Time on his hands as winder clocks off

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Pensioner Donald Ashbury has finally called time after notching up nearly half a century winding up a church clock.

The 75-year-old scales two steep ladders three days a week to reach the top of the 19th century church tower to spend 20 minutes winding the mechanism.

When he took on the job at St Barnabas Church in the Peak District village of Bradwell, Mr Ashbury never thought he would clock up 49 years.

“I only said I would do it for a while but the months turned into years and I just decided to carry on,” said Mr Ashbury, who lives in the village.

“I never thought I would still be going up those ladders at my age but time has flown by. I have a had a few smiles over the years and I suppose the exercise has done me good.

“But there have been a few panicky moments. One night I woke up at 3am and remembered I had forgotten to wind the clock so I walked through the village, climbed up the ladders and did my job.

“When I was leaving the church the police spotted me because they thought I had been pinching the church silver but I was able to convince them everything was OK.

“The villagers always notice if the clock has stopped and I am the first port of call.”

Churchgoers held a special presentation evening to thank Mr Ashbury for his hard work and several volunteers have come forward to take over.