Bell-ringing champion: Shoreham church bells ring out for first time in many months to celebrate bell-ringer’s 90th birthday

All the bells at Shoreham’s town church will be ringing out for the first time in many months to celebrate the 90th birthday of one very special bell-ringer.

Jim Lilley is the most dedicated bell-ringer at St Mary de Haura Church, in the town centre, having been ringing the bells there for more than 60 years.

He learned the traditional art at Cuckfield in 1944 and attended the church there until 1956, barring a two-year gap for National Service.

From there, he moved to St Mary’s in Shoreham where he was captain for 40 years from 1969 to 2009.

Eight bells in the belfry at St Mary de Haura

Jim has rung bells at 3,409 different towers to date - including at Westminster Abbey for his 80th birthday.

Hamish Mckenzie, current captain of Saint Mary de Haura Bellringers, said: “We are celebrating the birthday of Jim Lilley today at 6pm outside the main entrance of St Mary de Haura.

“For the first time in many months, all the bells will be heard, as they will be chimed a total of 90 times by one sole bell-ringer, to comply with Covid restrictions.

“This will also be an opportunity to bring this predominantly English pastime to public attention after a significant period of ringing silence.”

Jim Lilley with the Saint Mary de Haura Bellringers