The bells of Pembroke Church had a virtual ring of celebration this week when one of the prizes for their grand Easter Raffle got blown away by the wind.
A voucher for a free fish and chip supper for two at Rowlies Fish and Chip Shop got snatched away from tower captain Anne Bunker as she was collecting the prizes for this weekend’s raffle draw.
“Last Friday was a particularly windy day and before I knew what had happened, the voucher had disappeared,” she told The Herald.
“It was extremely embarrassing to go back and tell Rowlies what had happened after they’d been so generous, and I was extremely cross with myself for being so careless.”
But three days later, the voucher was returned to Rowlies by Pembroke resident Anna Willington, who had found it fluttering past her home in the main street.
“We want to say a huge thank you to Anna for retrieving the voucher and handing it back to Rowlies so it can once again be included in the list of raffle prizes.”
The Easter Raffle has been organised to help raise funds for the restoration of the eight bells which have been rung at St Mary the Virgin Church in Pembroke for the last 200 years.
Last year three of the bells had their ropes hung up for the final time after they were deemed unsafe to ring.
The ringers are determined to continue ringing the remaining five bells until they have sufficient funds to send them all away for a complete overhaul. As a result, a massive £100,000 fund raising initiative has been launched to salvage and restore each of the tower’s eight bells and to purchase an extra two.
“It’s a major initiative but we’re determined to do everything we can to ensure the St Mary’s bells carry on ringing as they’ve done for over 200 years,” explained Anne Bunker.
“No work has been done to them since the 1950s, and that was of a very poor quality, and the last time before that was in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee when two new bells were added to the tower.
“The problem has been made worse by the fact that Pembroke is situated close to the sea so the moisture that gets into the tower is salty.”
The restoration process is expected to take around six months which means the ringers will have to join their neighbouring bell towers in St Florence and Haverfordwest to continue practising their skill.
“We’re particularly fortunate in that we have a really keen band of ringers here in St Mary’s including Dave Whiting who’s been ringing for the past 40 years and a group of teenagers who come to ring with us every Sunday morning. And there are also a few youngsters waiting in the sidelines until they’re old enough to start ringing.”
The Easter Raffle will be drawn this Sunday, April 2.
Prizes include a signed Welsh rugby photograph, a family golf voucher, a family pass to Pembroke Castle, a back massage, free entry to Manorbier Castle, a tanning session and, of course, the chance to visit the bells of St Mary’s and ring them.