Church wardens single-handedly repair condemned spire in Slimbridge

Gazette Series: Roger Meredith and David Carrington on the stairway they repaired in the tower of St John's Church in Slimbridge Roger Meredith and David Carrington on the stairway they repaired in the tower of St John's Church in Slimbridge

TWO church wardens single-handedly repaired a condemned church spire for the benefit of the community.

It took six solid weeks, using traditional ropes and pulleys and climbing hundreds of stairs and ladders, but retired friends Roger Meredith, 63, and David Carrington, 71, restored the spire in St John's Church in Slimbridge.

Their work is quite a thing to behold, when you see how high the spire is, how unstable it was before they started and just how difficult it is to get up and down the spiral staircase to the clock landing.

The pair had to create a rope pulley system up the outside of the 80ft church to get the long pieces of wood, sourced from a scrap yard, into the spire.

The project, which started off as a plan to repair the walkway over the clock bell, turned into a major job to create new staircases, handrails and lights, helping people get to the top where they can expect a beautiful view over the vale.

"When I went up to see what work needed to be done I stood on one of the steps and it snapped in half, it was riddled with woodworm," said David, a builder and carpenter by trade.

"Our primary aim was to get the spire open so we could hold tours and raise some money for church funds."

The pair managed to complete the whole job for £250, buying scrap wood and doing all the work themselves.

Many residents in the village had no clue about the work of these two quiet men until the spire was opened up earlier this month for tours.

Martin Cooke, Slimbridge resident, said he believes the two men are "unsung heroes", helping to restore a piece of local history.

"What they have done is quite honestly amazing," said Mr Cooke. "The workmanship is excellent and to think they done it all without much of the village knowing is incredible. I think they have done the whole community a service."

It may have been hard work but Roger said they enjoyed every bit of it.

"It was a lot of fun I must say, we are very proud of it."

And not content with just the spire, the resourceful duo, nicknamed Dodgy Rog and Skip, are already planning more repairs in the church and are also hoping to fundraise to repair the stone work on the church roof.

"The whole purpose of all these projects is to keep the church in a good state of repair for future generations. We can only do that with donations," added David.

Donations can be made out to St John's Church, Slimbridge.

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