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Fund-raiser lifts weight of bell tower

13 November 2015

diocese of west yorkshire & the Dales

“Tower of Strength” challenge: Glenn Stewart lifts weights to raise funds towards the St Stephen’s church-tower repair project

“Tower of Strength” challenge: Glenn Stewart lifts weights to raise funds towards the St Stephen’s church-tower repair project

A 64-YEAR-OLD weightlifter has boosted the restoration fund for his church’s tower by almost £2000 by powerlifting the building’s equivalent weight in his gym.

Glenn Stewart, a former churchwarden at St Stephen’s, Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, lifted 40,000 kilos each week, hitting his target of 500,000 kilos in 13 weeks. The funds he raised will go towards the £250,000 needed to restore the Grade II listed church’s 185-year-old stone tower.

Mr Stewart, who runs a computer software firm, said on Monday: “I have been a regular at St Stephen’s for a long time, and got the idea when I was trying to think of something I could do to help the fund-raising.

“I got one of the other congregation members, who is an engineer, to figure out what the bell-tower weighs, and then I did some maths, and worked out what I could cumulatively lift each week. I had to lift 40,000 kilos a week. The church was all for it; they thought it was a terrific idea — as long as they didn’t have to participate!”

He did a series of 100 lifts in each session, raising up to 500 kilos a time. To meet the challenge, he adopted a special diet. “I ate a lot of vegetables, but not much steak or chicken. I get most of my protein from baked beans; that keeps me fuelled up, and I do have a lot of mineral and vitamin supplements, but basically I eat half a dozen meals a day.

“I tried to lift a little bit more than my usual routine, but I was confident I was within my capabil-ities. I usually train at a weight which is above the world record for my age group, which is around 200 kilos for a squat lift. My personal best is 320 kilos.”

Each week, to interest the children he works with at St Stephen’s, he brought in a picture of something equivalent to his running total. “After the first week, it was five double-decker buses” he said. “The second week was ten elephant seals, and the tenth was the Statue of Liberty. I culminated with two-and-a-half blue whales — the equivalent of the whole tower.”

He first started powerlifting when he was 40. “I got hooked because it is physical rather than cerebral. My day job was all brainwork, but powerlifting is just being able to move very large weights.”


Tower o' Strength


In ’Uddersgate, famed for its weather

Up north weir it’s borin’ and slow

Lives a strongman called Glenn Stewart

’E lifts big weights reight high and reight low


He’s set issen ter lift yon tower

Weir t’ bells ring aht nah and then

Ter call fowks t’t worship is what they’r fer

An’ they stop people going rand t’bend.


Now t’t bell tower’s a mighty construction

Ahr Bernard sais usin’ t’ times table

Weighs 500 tonnes na more

An’ Glenn mabe’ll lift it, if ’e’s able.


In t’ gym each week Glenn recons

’E’ll lift 40,000 kilos er more

An’ just ta mak sure that ’e does it

They shut and padlock t’ door!


Each week t’ lad’ll tell yer ’is total

Ov horses, an elephants an buses

An ’e’s gorra carry on doin’ it

Till 2½ Blue Whales ’e pushes.


Wi’ ’is arms an’ legs akimbo

Wi’ grunts, an’ pants, an’ blushes

’E’ll carry on this monstrous feat

Till t’ blood to ’is head it rushes


Nah, tha’s got ter do thi part

An ’elp ’im fer t’ tower, ter raise t’ cash

And then, when ’e’s done ’is haif-million

In t’t Community Rooim we’ll come, an ’av a bash.


A poem written by Mr Stewart to mark his weight-lighting achievement

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