A NOVICE bell-ringer sparked a full-scale rescue when she was
knocked unconscious after getting caught up in her rope and hauled
off her feet.
Rescue services took almost an hour to bring Helen Springthorpe
to safety from the first-floor gallery in the 15th-century tower of
St Nicholas's, Bathampton, near Bath, in Somerset, on Monday.
Paramedics suspected that she had damaged her hip and gave her
morphine, while emergency crews, including a specialist
cliff-rescue team, lifted a section of the gallery floor and
lowered her on a stretcher 20 feet to the ground.
Ms Springthorpe was taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath,
but discharged shortly after. She told reporters later: "I have no
memory of being caught up. I started pulling the bells, and the
next thing I knew I was looking at a paramedic."
Ms Springthorpe, 58, a typist from Bath, has been a bell-ringer
for only three months. "I just like the church bells," she said.
"I've always liked hearing them; so I thought I'd have a go."
The tower captain, Peter Powell, aged 79, said: "Helen was just
taking her first pull of the session. It went all right for the
first stroke. Then, all of a sudden, she just lost the rope and it
went all round her, and she collapsed on the floor."
The Rector of Bathampton, the Revd Paul Burden, said: "This is
the first time that that has ever happened in Mr Powell's
experience, which is a very long time. It's a reminder that
bell-ringing is a very skilled hobby, and there needs to be careful
A spokesman for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers,
Barrie Dove, said: "Bell-ringing is a very safe past-time. I know
of only one fatality in the past 50 years. But you need to be
careful: bells weigh several hundredweight and should be treated