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Bellringers delight

PUBLISHED: 14:46 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 July 2010

DELIGHTED bellringers welcomed scores of visitors to the tower of Dereham's parish church and swelled the coffers of their mission to add two more bells by more than £900.

DELIGHTED bellringers welcomed scores of visitors to the tower of Dereham's parish church and swelled the coffers of their mission to add two more bells by more than £900.

Saturday's open day and raffle are also expected to have yielded more learners - one of the aims of the four-year, £60,000 fundraising project that is under way at St Nicholas's Church to preserve ringing in the town for future generations.

Appeal spokeswoman Celia Barker estimated that between 60 and 100 people visited the landmark steeple, where they were escorted up the steps to see the present ring of eight, were shown around the ringing chamber and had a chance to chime the treble bell.

“From the moment people heard the bells ringing to start the day, they were coming in and asking to look around,” she added.

“We were absolutely blown over by the response. What delighted us was the number of comments we received from townspeople saying how much they loved hearing the bells, and how they would like the clock chiming again.”

Among those chatting to visitors during the day was musician and Press Gang stalwart Colin Burleigh, who related one of the more unusual - and tragic - episodes in Dereham's change-ringing history.

He is the great-grandson of Samuel Burleigh, whose death in the ringing chamber on

May 7, 1904 is recorded in a plaque on the wall there.

As Samuel reached the last 500 changes of a peal of the 5,040-change Bob Major, the rope of the seventh bell dropped from his hands, he fell to the floor and he died of heart failure.

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