Bellringers praise Mr Moss’ sterling work

Fellow campanologists spring a surprise presentation on retiring Colyton belltower captain

Silence reigned when bell ringers gathered at Colyton parish church last week.

‘Mum’ was the word as they travelled from across East Devon to spring a surprise on retiring tower captain Dennis Moss.

He has stepped down after leading the team at St Andrew’s for 42 years – part of a bell ringing ‘career’ that started before the Second World War.

Mr Moss, 82, took up campanology in 1938, at the tender aged of nine, following in the footsteps of his granddad, Nathanial, and his dad, Edwin, who were tower captains at Northleigh and Colyton respectively.

He honed his bell ringing skills at Colyton, Southleigh and Northleigh churches until the bells were silenced in 1940 and throughout the duration of the War. He returned to the tower, having completed his National Service, in 1952 and has been ringing regularly ever since.

He took on the role of Tower Captain at Colyton at the beginning of 1971 but now, after 41 years, painful arthritis in his hands has forced him to give up the post, although he will remain a member of the ringing team.

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He told The Herald: “I am not giving up, just not doing so much. I have really enjoyed it all these years and the presentation was a big surprise. There were around 30 ringers there from all over the district waiting in the tower for me – I knew nothing about it.”

Amongst the gifts he received was a framed photograph of the refurbished west window at Colyton Church and a host of cards, one bearing a replica of the bell tower key.

Paying tribute to his years of dedicated leadership Rector Hilary Dawson said: “We are immensely grateful for all he has done as captain.”

The new captain will be Keith Smith.

* Mr Moss started work as a mechanic at Colyton Garage in 1942 and took over the business in 1971, before retiring in 1995.