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Bellringer’s 1,200-mile bike ride for Southwark Cathedral appeal

Peter Valuks, master of the Southwark Cathedral Society of Bellringers, has embarked on a 1,200-mile sponsored bike ride to raise money for the restoration of the bells.

Bellringer’s 1,200-mile bike ride for Southwark Cathedral appeal
Peter Valuks rode his bike up the nave of Southwark Cathedral after receiving a blessing from the Bishop of Southwark during the Easter Sunday Choral Eucharist

He received a blessing from the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, on Easter Sunday morning before heading to Cornwall for the start of his ride.

Valuks is cycling on his own, carrying a tent to sleep in and does not have any logistical support. The cycle ride started at Lizard Point in Cornwall, will visit Land's End and John O'Groats and finish at Duncansby Head. The idea of the ride is to visit the furthest points on the British mainland to the south, south-west, west, north-west, north and north-east.

He visited the south-east and eastern points of the British mainland on his warm-up ride in mid-April.

Southwark Cathedral bells are one of the oldest, heaviest and most challenging rings of 12-bells hung for English-style change ringing. They were cast and hung in 1735 by Samuel Knight.

The heaviest bell, or tenor, weighs 48cwt (2,438kg or nearly two and a half tonnes). This makes it the seventh heaviest tenor bell in the world.

The last major work to be carried out on the bells of Southwark Cathedral was in 1965 when the lightest six bells were re-hung on modern fittings.

With regular use the fitting are now worn out and it is now necessary to replace them and re-hang the bells.

The intention is to remove the bells from the tower in order to tighten and strengthen the frame, make alterations to some of the bells to enable them to hang in correct alignment, make alterations to some of the bells to enable the clappers to hang straight within The Bell and re-hang the bells in the existing 1735 frame with new fittings.

Valuks, who works for the Financial Times at Southwark Bridge, is raising money towards the estimated 100,000 cost of this work.

The FT is matching the first 1,000 of sponsorship raised by the cycle ride. At the time of writing he had raised more than 4,400.

• Follow his progress on his blog or sponsor him at Virgin Money Giving.

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