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After months of silence, the sound of church bells has returned to the West Berkshire village of Mortimer following the support of two AWE apprentices.
In 2015 St John’s Church in Mortimer discovered that their 120-year-old church bells were in urgent need of repair.
The bells at the church were installed in 1896 and had not been structurally updated since this time.
Following a request for community support from the church, AWE donated the time of two apprentices to help professional bell hangers, Whites of Appleton and local ringers, carry out repairs to the timber bell frame and overhaul some of the ringing fittings.
After almost three months of restorative work, the bells were finally sounded at a church service on July 31.
Andrew Slater the Steeple keeper at St John’s Church said: “We'd like to thank AWE for donating the time of apprentices Tom and Kieran. Their hard work helped us to undertake this project.
The work was completed on Friday as planned and we rang all six bells for the Sunday service for the first time in over a year.
With any luck the bells will now ring out for the next 120 years without major maintenance.”
Over the three month period AWE apprentices Thomas Dowson, 28 from Basingstoke and Kieran Monger, 20 from Tadley helped turn and repair the six bells at the top of a 100 foot bell tower.
This support meant that professional bell hangers, Whites of Appleton, could replace rotten timbers before hoisting the bells back up into the bells chamber.
Thomas said: “This was a really great opportunity for me to learn new skills. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to touch bells that are over 120 years old. It feels really good to be able to give back to the community in this way.”
Marcus Hutchings AWE, Skills Academy Manager said: “Apprentices are crucial to AWE filling our critical skills gap and events such as this illustrate how dynamic an apprenticeship at AWE is.
AWE is committed to being a good neighbour and working with local communities is really important.”
St John’s Church in Mortimer is also currently trying to raise funds to make roof repairs.
Applications for the 2016 apprenticeship intake will be open from autumn. For more information about the AWE apprentice scheme go to www.awe.co.uk