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Donald clocks up five decades

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A community stalwart who has notched up five decades powering a church clock is calling time on the role.

Donald Ashbury, 75, has retired after nearly 50 years of voluntarily winding the clock at St Barnabas Church in the picturesque Peak District village of Bradwell.

Every three days, Mr Ashbury walked up two steep ladders to reach the top of the 19th century church tower where he spent 20 minutes winding the clock mechanism.

It is estimated Mr Ashbury made the steep trip a staggering 5,000 times.

Mr Ashbury, who lives in Bradwell, said: “When I took up the job I said I’d only do it for a while.

“I never thought I’d clock up almost 50 years!”

The amateur dramatics fan described his 49-year tenure as “very interesting”.

He said: “I’ve had lots of smiles – and a few panicky moments.

“One night I woke up at 3am and remembered I’d completely forgotten to do the clock. So I got out of bed, went to the church, climbed up the ladders and did my job.

“The police spotted me and thought I was pinching the church silver!”

He added: “I won’t miss working during the winters – it gets very cold up in that church tower.”

Mr Ashbury said he was the first port of call for villagers who noticed the clock had stopped.

As he climbed down the ladders after giving the Derbyshire Times a demonstration of his clock-winding skills, Mr Ashbury said: “I look back fondly on my job – I will miss it.”

Churchgoers have held a special presentation to thank Mr Ashbury and villagers needn’t fear as new volunteers have come forward to take on the important timepiece role.

 

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