Bells toll for church captain of 70 years

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John Kinchin with Linda Beach, who organised Saturday’s celebration of his long spell as a bell ringer at St Lawrence Church in Mickleton. (M24/10/17/1)

MICKLETON’S John Kinchin has had bells ringing in his ears for 70 years — but on Saturday he retired as tower captain at the village church. However, he will still be pulling on the ropes with fellow bell-ringers whenever he can.

It was back in 1947 when, aged 11, John first became a bell ringer in Mickleton following in the footsteps of his father, Denis Kinchin, who was also a bell-ringer. John said he used to go to church with his family, who have been in Mickleton for generations.

There he found himself drawn to the skill of bell-ringing and has been hooked ever since. “During the war years I never got to hear my father ring the church bells because they were only to be rung in the event of an invasion. I’ve found bell-ringing to be an interesting and gripping hobby, you don’t have to be particularly good at music or mathematics but somewhere in between helps.”

He added: “We’ve had our funny moments too. Ringing the church bells is how people have been summoned to church for centuries.

“One day we were ringing for a good half hour but nobody turned up and we couldn’t work out why? Then I checked the running order for that day and realised that the service we thought we were attending was in fact being held at different church.”

Last Saturday at St Lawrence Church, John’s last term as tower captain was celebrated with a quarter peal with 1,240 changes, which lasted 45 minutes. He was also toasted with a glass of sherry and port by his friends including Chris Mew, from Warwick, who is former president of the Bell-Ringers of the World Association.

“I will continue to be a bell ringer because it’s good for the brain and a nice physical exercise,” added John.