Sat, 28
10 °C
Sun, 29
7 °C
Mon, 30
10 °C

Bray community news: 94-year-old church bell ringer retires

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams
Bray community news: 94-year-old church bell ringer retires

Derek Fowles, 94, is retiring from bell ringing at St Michael’s church, Bray because he can no longer get up the stairs of the tower. Holyport

A veteran bell-ringer is retiring after more than 75 years of church chiming.

Derek Fowles, 94, has been a bell-ringer since the wartime ban on the activity was lifted in 1943.

At the time, church bells were rung to announce an invasion.

Derek is a member of the bell-ringing band at St Michael’s Church.

He said: “I moved to Bray when I got married in l967, although I had been ringing with the Bray band for a few years before that.

“Like many ringers, I met my wife through bell ringing. Our 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated with a peal of bells.”

A peal of bells is often recorded on a peal board. The peal that celebrated Derek’s wedding anniversary was recorded on the wooden peal board in the bell tower of St Michael’s church.

The St Michael’s bells ring every Sunday from 9.15am-10am.

The church has a ring of eight bells and the bell-ringing band at Bray dates back to the early 1900s.

“In those days, ringers were elected to join the band and were fined for non-attendance at Sunday service ringing,” said Derek.

Over the years, Derek has served as tower captain, deputy captain, steeple keeper (responsible for maintenance of the bells), tower treasurer and secretary of the Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund.

He has also been a treasurer of the East Berks and South Bucks branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild, where he continues to be a trustee.

“I have made a lot of friends over the years, through my ringing activities,” said Derek.

“I shall miss ringing but I will continue to have contact with the local band.”

Victorian stink pipe falls on fence

A Victorian stink pipe on the pavement in Old Mill Lane collapsed during a storm.

Mary Wiles, who lives opposite, said: “I was expecting the usual branches strewn across the road, on my arrival from a weekend away, and was astonished to see that the structure, which is taller than a lamppost, had disappeared.”

These pipes were traditionally used to vent gas from the sewers deep underground, releasing it high above street level to keep it out of smelling range.

Some existing stink pipes, or stench poles, still serve this function.

Mary found the stink pipe uprooted and lying across a garden fence, leaving a hole in the path.

“The base of the pipe was very rusty. It could have been dangerous if it had landed somewhere different,” said Mary.

Thames Water sent contractors to remove the pipe on Friday. It needed to be cut up and taken away, as it was clogged with silt.

Trust secretary stands down after 10 years

The secretary of the Holyport Community Trust, Peter Abrahamsen, stood down after 10 years of service at the group’s AGM last month.

Two other trustees also stood down, including Sylvia Jones, another long-standing member and organiser of the local WI, as well as Judy Humphries, who helps to run the Bray and Holyport Cub and Scout group.

Another big change regarding the trustees was the decision to move the Holyport Community Trust from a traditional charity to a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).

A CIO operates like a limited company, with trustees running the management committee.

The trust, which is responsible for the management of the memorial hall, hopes this change will help to attract more trustees to the committee and move financial risk away from individual members.

The trust also plans to carry out small, fast refurbishments to the memorial hall to improve the facilities in the short term, while continuing to raise funding for bigger projects.

Fundraising has been a key focus of the trust’s activities over the last year, and so far it has raised nearly £19,000.

Mike Dyde, the chairman, expressed the trust’s thanks to all those who made contributions, including the Heathrow Community Fund (£1,776), the Berkshire Community Fund (£2,000), and Louis Baylis Trust (£2,000).

Wine tasting at village show spring meeting

The organisers of the Holyport Village Show will be holding their spring meeting in the Holyport War Memorial Hall on Friday, April 3 at 8pm.

It is an opportunity to pick up the 2020 show schedule.

There will be a raffle with many prizes and also a wine tasting event. Chris Peverell of the Belgian Arms will be presenting six different wines. Free admission.

Help organise summer fair

Preparation is under way for the 2020 Holyport Fair, which takes place on Saturday, June 6.

The organisers are looking for committee recruits. Interested parties should email:


Tomorrow (Friday): Pilates keep-fit classes, Holyport War Memorial Hall, 1.35-2.45pm. Contact Tina Berry on 07557 127141.

Monday: Art classes, Braywood Memorial Hall, 10am-12pm. Contact Bill Collier on 07811 953071.

Apna Virsa Bhangra Adults mixed classes. 8-9pm. Contact

Tuesday: Gentle Yoga, Holyport Scout HQ, 9am. Contact Tara Sutthoff Crist at

Tumble Tots, exercises developing balance and co-ordination for two to three-year-olds. Holyport War Memorial Hall 10.25-11.10am. Contact Helen on 07709 496876.

Art classes, Braywood Memorial Hall, from 2-5pm and 7-9pm. Contact Bill Collier on 07811953071.

Young Dragons martial arts class for children aged four to 12 years. Holyport War Memorial Hall 5.30-6.30pm. Contact Neville Wray on 07860 431739.

Circuit training, Holyport War Memorial Hall, 7-8pm. Call Jennie Saunders on 07766 461242.

Wednesday: Pilates, Holyport War Memorial Hall, 7.30-8.30pm. Call Matt Bryant on 07834 595322.

SMILE, chair-based to standing exercise, Holyport War Memorial Hall, 1.30-3pm. Call Sarah Hill on 07876 586445.


Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Paid Stories

Most read

Top Ten Articles