Church bells rang out for weekend of remembrance

The bell-ringers at All Saints Parish Church, Gainsborough.
The bell-ringers at All Saints Parish Church, Gainsborough.

The bells rang out from All Saints Parish Church in Gainsborough over Remembrance Weekend to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Led by tower captain Robin Heppenstall, the church’s bell-ringers ensured the occasion was suitably honoured. He conducted Delia Heppenstall, Janet Clarke, Stephen Clarke, Alison Elwess, Jennifer Swatton, Jonathan Swatton, Debbie Scarf and David Whetton so that all eight bells in the tower could be rung.

As a mark of respect to those who died during the Great War, the bells were fitted with muffles. The casualties included Sergeant Percy Ballance, a former bell-ringer at All Saints, who was killed in action in Turkey in August 1915 at the age of 27.

A coal carter, Percy was a member of the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. He left a wife, Edith, and has no known grave, although his name appears on the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli.

Inside the church tower is a commemorative certificate recording the service of Gainsborough bell-ringers during the 1914-1918 war, including many who survived.

The muffled bells were rung on the Saturday evening for about 50 minutes, and again on the Sunday morning, firstly as people gathered for the Remembrance Day service at the church and then as they dispersed after the laying of wreaths at the town’s war memorial.

On the Sunday evening, the muffles were removed for more joyous ringing to reflect the celebrations when the war ended.

The church bells are run every week before Sunday services and also for weddings and national celebrations.

The bell-ringers would welcome new members to help keep the age-old tradition alive. Practice sessions are held on Monday evenings, and anyone interested should pop into the church cafe.