A fitting tribute

A fitting tribute

Friends of a veteran bell-ringer celebrated his 80th birthday by putting on a surprise performance – of more than a thousand rings in perfect synchronisation.

Derek Wilkinson, who has been ringing tower bells since he was just 20 years old, celebrated his birthday with the ‘gold standard’ of bell ringing – more than 1,200 of rings lasting over an hour.

The Kent County of Change Ringers banded together to surprise the octogenarian with a birthday treat by ringing the prestigious ‘quarter peal.’

The group spent more than an hour ringing bells in perfect timing at St Botolph’s Church in Northfleet, Kent as a tribute to the local man.

A peal, which consists of at least 5,040 changes on up to seven working bells, is the peak of any ringer’s career.

Keen campanologist Derek, who has been ringing continuously since 1948, has rung three full peals and many more quarter peals in his career.

Derek said: “It makes me feel very honoured.

“I knew something was going on, that people were up to something, but it is still a nice surprise.”