Ringing the changes after three decades of service at Nuthall church

John Hatton, centre, joined by bell-ringers including Richard Doar, far left, Gillian Trowbridge, centre back and wife Pauline, front left. L-R: Richard Doar, Chris Mettan, Gillian Trowbridge, Geoff Lee, Richard Black, Sue Crotley, Alan Crotley, Don Beech, Front: Pauline Hatton, John Hatton and Mary Beech
John Hatton, centre, joined by bell-ringers including Richard Doar, far left, Gillian Trowbridge, centre back and wife Pauline, front left. L-R: Richard Doar, Chris Mettan, Gillian Trowbridge, Geoff Lee, Richard Black, Sue Crotley, Alan Crotley, Don Beech, Front: Pauline Hatton, John Hatton and Mary Beech

Captain of St Patrick’s bells John Hatton, 76, is stepping away from the ropes after three decades of service to the church.

Fellow bell-ringers honoured John’s 31-year career volunteering at the Nuthall church with a surprise celebration on Tuesday.

Church volunteer and wedding co-ordinator Gillian Trowbridge helped organise the surprise party.

She said: “We thank John for all his hard work and dedication.

“He’s kept the bell-ringers going and that is so important.

“John has spent many, many hours of his time training new recruits, ringing for Sunday services and weddings, and leading practice sessions.”

A retired farmer of New Farm Lane, John said he only came into the church on Tuesday to drop off his keys when he was ambushed with gifts from fellow bell-ringers.

He added: I’m so grateful for what they’ve done, and for all the co-operation of all the ringers that have been willing to come and learn for the last 30 years.

“It’s time to step down now and let someone else take over, and take an interest in it.”

John is passing on the baton to Richard Doar, who he taught to ring when Richard was just 11-years-old.

“I taught him everything I know and I know he’s quite capable.”

And there is a knack to it, added John. “It’s not just pulling a rope you know - it’s all about practice, and getting a feel for the bells.

“You’re watching what’s happening with the other bell ropes and counting, keeping an eye on what’s going off with the bells.

“There’s a method to it, and it can be difficult. I had one lad who took a year to learn.”