Tributes paid to man who rang bells at Melton church for 30 years

Former St Mary's Church bell ringer John Sutton, who has passed away aged 83, pictured, right, at his farewell party last year with tower captain William Saywell and group leader of the handbell ringers Wendy Saywell EMN-170610-165100001

Tributes have been paid to a man who rang the bells in St Mary’s Church in Melton for 30 years, following his death at the age of 83.

John Sutton was tower captain at the church for 14 years and his name remains inscribed on bell number four due to his dedicated service.

John Sutton, a long serving bell ringer at St Mary's Church, Melton, who has passed away aged 83 EMN-170610-165121001

Earlier in his life he worked as an ambulance paramedic.

Diana Foord, who was tower secretary for seven years while John was tower captain, said: “As tower captain for many years, John Sutton carried out his duties in a quiet, unassuming manner, teaching raw recruits how to ring, and creating the right atmosphere at all times.

“In addition, he maintained the bells and fittings in very good working order, spending several hours in the belfry, often alone.

“Ringing 54 steps above ground level, it was comforting to have a good paramedic around - it was a bonus.

“Everyone who knew and worked with John had the greatest respect for him.

“He was a true gentleman, who will be missed for years to come.”

Diana’s daughter, St Mary’s bell ringer Wendy Saywell, who is also group leader of the handbell ringers, said: “John put in a huge amount of time and effort as tower captain.

“He taught many ringers and has always been a great encouragement to me.

“His work as tower captain meant he was also steeple keeper, which involves making sure that the church clock always has the right time.”

John’s love of bell ringing happened by chance. He was persuaded by wife Marian to volunteer to take people up the church tower on Melton Day one spring bank holiday in 1986.

While he was there he got talking to the then tower captain, Liz Carter, and she showed him the church bells.

She invited him along to a practice night and he was hooked.

John enjoyed bell ringing so much that three years later, when Liz left, he became tower captain, a role he cherished for 14 years before handing over to present incumbent William Saywell. He then took on the role of deputy tower captain before ill health forced him to give up the hobby he loved so much last year.

At a farewell party held by hand bell and tower bell ringers at the church last year, John told of his sadness at having to give up bell ringing.

His name was inscribed on one of the bells, along with those of two churchwardens, when it was re-cast after cracking in 1994.

John died peacefully at home on September 27 and his funeral service will be held at St Mary the Virgin Church, Thorpe Arnold, on Friday, October 13, at 10.30am, followed by cremation at Loughborough Crematorium.

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