Bristol

Bathampton bell-ringer tangled in rope in belfry

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Media captionHelen Springthorpe was placed on a stretcher and lowered 20ft (6m) from the bell-ringing gallery floor

A bell-ringer became entangled in ropes and was knocked unconscious at a belfry near Bath.

A fire service spokesman said Helen Springthorpe, 58, had been "thrown around the belfry" at St Nicholas Church, Bathampton, on Monday night.

A section of the bell-ringing gallery floor was lifted up and Ms Springthorpe was lowered 20ft (6m) to safety.

She said she had only been bell-ringing for three months and that she had been "just a bit unlucky".

Ms Springthorpe said she was unconscious for part of the rescue as she had tripped and hit her head on the wall.

She said the bell-ringing gallery floor that she fell on was at the top of a "very tiny and twisty spiral staircase".

'Trap door'

Fire and ambulance crews were not able to rescue her via the staircase and had to lift up a section of the floor in order to lower Ms Springthorpe to the ground on a stretcher.

Paramedics gave her morphine and made her comfortable while she was waiting to be rescued.

"I remember lots of people around," she said.

Image caption Paramedics treated the woman while she waited to be rescued

"The bell tower was full of firefighters and paramedics.

"I remember being strapped to a stretcher and lowered through the trap door, seeing all the plaques on the wall in the church as I was lowered down."

She said the accident happened on her first "pull" of the night.

The tower captain, 79-year-old Peter Powell, who lives in the village, said: "It all happened so quickly. Whether she fell off the box at the same time or what, we can't say.

"Everybody was just sitting around very worried, not quite knowing what to do, but left the two that did know what they were doing to carry on.

"I do care. She was learning to ring, had just started, and then this happened."

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