Tireless John Girt calls time on 15 years of dedicated clock-keeping at Ipswich’s St Margaret’s Church
PUBLISHED: 11:54 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:44 29 May 2017
An Ipswich octogenarian who has devotedly wound the clock at his local church for the last 15 years has made his last turn of the timepiece as it heads for restoration.
St Margaret’s Church parishioner John Girt has been a committed bell ringer at the church since the late 1970s, but first began manually winding the clock 15 years ago when the regular volunteer left.
From there the chirpy campanologist continued to wind the clocks twice a week – once on a Thursday and once on a Sunday – until it was removed for restoration last month, where it will be overhauled with an electric winder and regulator.
“I have been ringing the bells for a large number of years and there was somebody else doing the job with the clock,” the 82-year-old said.
“He just got too old and then stopped coming so I just picked it up. I didn’t give it any thought that I would still be doing it – it’s just one of those things you take on and that was it.”
But despite having made the role his own, Mr Girt says moving the heavy winder, known as a strike mechanism, is not one he will miss.
“I shan’t miss it in terms of having to do the physical work,” he said. “I am quite happy it will be automatically wound and hopefully keep it in time. It’s a bit of a beast to keep it exactly in time!”
While Mr Girt may have called time on his clock work, the active octogenarian has no plans to unwind himself as he keeps busy with his role as captain of the bell-ringers.
Last week the 450-year-old bells were removed for restoration as part of the church’s quarter-of-a-million-pound restoration, largely financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund. When they are returned in November a new viewing gallery will be created, while Mr Girt is the chief behind a programme to get youngsters involved in bell-ringing.
“We are actively teaching people, and this is part of the project,” Mr Girt said.
“It’s not just to have the bells re-hung but also to introduce more teaching.
“We have got one or two of the school children we are teaching ringing, and with the gallery being publicly viewable it will look very good.
“I am very proud of everyone, but there is a lot more to do as yet!”
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