The wait is finally over for a band of bell ringers in Grappenhall who have returned to ringing after a hiatus of seven months in order to remove old bells and cast and install new ones.
The Ringing Master, Nick Thomson, says everyone is relieved that the wait is finally over. “We’ve been waiting seven long months for this evening. They sound brilliant and although we've been practising up at Stockton Heath in the intervening months, it's good to be back at Grappenhall again.
"I’ve been ringing since I was 11 and it’s both mentally and physically challenging.”
Nick Thomson donated a bell in memory of his parents who were loyal members of Grappenhall parish church
The challenge for the ringers has only increased as the number of bells has risen from eight to ten.
Nick says: “For a village church you'd expect six or eight but because we have an active band we thought we would like the extra two.”
According to Nick, the old bells were, “getting beyond being tuned, a bit thin and tonally not too good.”
The ringers have been raising money for 20 years to replace the old bells but began fundraising in earnest just two years ago. They raised a total of £25k with the money coming from various grant-giving bodies, parishioners, and individuals.
Bell ringers of Grappnehall with the new tenor bell (Credit Nick Thomson)
Four of the old bells, cast by a founder called Henry Baguley in 1700, will be kept and used as service bells and clock bells.
The team at Grappenhall is made up of men and women ranging in age from as young as 9 right up to 92.
Nick has rung in more than 4600 churches, of which the furthest away was Honolulu Cathedral. He says: "It’s the camaraderie of it all. When we were younger we'd go away on weekends and kip down at the church hall with our sleeping bags and have cooked breakfasts and whatever. We have ringing practices in the week and you're almost always going to find a pub next door to the church. For me, ringing is a large part of my life."