Is this a wind-up Volunteer is banned from climbing ladder to wind church clock after 40 years in health and safety clamp-down
11:26 GMT, 26 November 2012
A pensioner who has climbed a ladder to wind a church clock for more than 40 years has been banned from the tradition due to health and safety concerns.
Tom Monk, 82, started winding the clock of St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex way back in 1969.
Every week, without fail, for nearly half a century Mr Monk has gone up the same wooden stepladder to be able to reach the winder handle for his church clock and turn it 400 times.
82-year-old Tom Monk has been banned from winding the clock of St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex after 43 years
Yet despite carrying out the task on more than 2,200 occasions and winding it nearly 900,000 times, Mr Monk has now been told that health and safety concerns mean his time as the church’s clock winder are over.
Roy Belsham, of the St Nicolas Church Parochial Council, which took the decision, said health and safety concerns were paramount.
He said: 'Of course when the clock first went up, people did not think about health and safety in those days but times have changed.
'Climbing a ladder to wind the clock was just the normal thing to do back then. It's a sensible decision really – Tom has not done anything wrong, it's just about dealing with a danger which can be avoided.'
Familiar journey: Mr Monk has to climb the wooden stepladder to reach the winder handle for the church clock and turn it 400 times
The clock was given to St Nicolas Church in Witham, Essex as a gift to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887
He said Mr Monk's age had been taken into account in the decision but stressed there had not been any problems throughout the years.
The church has instead launched a fund-raising drive to raise 4,500 for a mechanism to enable the clock to be wound by someone standing on the ground.
Tom Monk started winding the clock way back in 1969
Mr Monk said the decision had left him bemused, especially as he has never had an accident when he carried out the weekly wind.
He said: 'The church wants to wind the clock in a different way by bringing a winding handle down to the floor.
'But I have never had any problems and would have been quite happy to carry on. Everything seems to be about health and safety though these days so I guess it was inevitable that this might happen.'
The decision to stop Mr Monk’s weekly wind-up means the church clock is no longer in use, with the hands set to 12 until the money can be raised for the new winding mechanism.
He admitted he was ready for a rest after so many years of winding the clock which he did, religiously, every Wednesday.
The father-of-four is, however, planning to carry on as a bell ringer with the church. He admitted that his dedication to the task did cause a few tensions down the years.
He said: 'My children have been saying that it is about time I packed it in, but I never take any notice of them.
'One Christmas morning several years ago, we went to church and I wound the clock, yet somehow the stepper ladder had started to come loose.
'I brought it home with me on Christmas morning to repair it so I was not very popular that day.'
The winding task would take retired draftsman Mr Monk 15 minutes each time and to stop getting worn out, he alternated between his left and right arm.
He said: 'I climb the 28 steps to the church’s ringing chamber and then get the step ladder out and climb to the top of it. There is a knack to the winding, but once you have done it for 43 years, its pretty straight-forward.'
Mr Monk, whose wife Jean died in 1992, said he had not ruled out returning to his task of winding the clock once the new mechanism has been installed.
The clock was given as a gift by the author Mary Bramston to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887.
The church has said it will install a mechanism to enable the clock to be wound by someone standing on the ground, Mr Monk has not ruled out returning to his task once the new mechanism has been installed