�30,000 needed to fix Cromer church bells - and make them easier to ring

The ancient art of bell-ringing needs skill, timing and dexterity.

But in Cromer, campanologists in the tallest church tower in Norfolk also need something else - strength.

For the bells at St Peter and St Paul are among the heaviest around, and the bell-ringing team is - to put it politely - not as robust as some of those from years gone by.

Now, �30,000 is needed to spruce up the bells, which have not had major refurbishment work for 140 years, and to make them easier to ring.

More than �2,500 was raised at a flower festival in the summer.

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And the bell-ringers, a team of 12 led by steeple-keeper Maureen Gardiner, are planning a New Year drive to raise the rest of the money - and give their weary arms a break.

The first initiative is to appeal to anyone with a love of the bells to sponsor a particular aspect of the restoration, and to have one of the bells or fittings dedicated to a family member.

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Dr Gardiner said: 'We need to replace the 140-year-old fittings and make the bells easier to use. Every bell is going to be taken out and rehung.

'They are grand bells, but they are not that easy to ring. You've got to have a fair bit of strength. When the bells went in, it was the stout men of Cromer who rang them. That's not necessarily true today.'

Dr Gardiner added: 'The flower festival made us realise that events in the middle of Cromer involving the bells can be very popular. We are starting to think about the coming year.

'Because there aren't many bell-ringers, we will plan larger events, rather than dozens of coffee mornings. Also, if anyone has a personal reason why the bells are important to them or a family member, they might like to sponsor some of the work.'

Dr Gardiner said she would also be applying for grants to bolster the fund.

She said one of the bonuses of refurbishing the bells would be that local groups, including Guides and Scouts, would be able to visit the bell-tower, learn about the bells - and be strong enough to ring them.

? If you are interested in supporting the appeal, call Dr Gardiner on 01263 825779 or 07909 916752.

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