Veteran bell-ringer will sound the bells for VE Day – again!

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SEVENTY years ago today, Mavis Whitehead grabbed the ropes in the bell tower of Leicester Cathedral and rang to mark the peace.

Now the 81-year-old, of Old Portsmouth, is set to do it all again.

HEAVE Mavis Whitehead ringing the bells at Portsmouth Cathedral. Picture: Sarah Standing (150824-9524)

HEAVE Mavis Whitehead ringing the bells at Portsmouth Cathedral. Picture: Sarah Standing (150824-9524)

Mavis is a regular ringer at Portsmouth’s Anglican Cathedral and has been a member of the band for more than two decades.

At the age of 11, she was encouraged to ring the bells by her father on VE Day.

Yesterday Mavis joined the other members of the Portsmouth Cathedral band for their weekly rehearsal and to prepare herself for the anniversary ringing tomorrow.

She said: ‘I don’t remember much about VE Day but I’m really happy to be here 70 years on to do it again.

‘I really enjoy bell-ringing. The people are what make it so enjoyable and everyone is so friendly.

‘My father got me into it and in those days you always did what your father told you. I didn’t want to at the time, but once I got a feel for the bells I loved it.’

A former Wren and current member of the Royal Naval Guild of Bell-Ringers, she has rung for more than seven decades completing hundreds of peals – a performance of bell-ringing which consists of at least 5,040 bell strikes.

It is a performance which normally takes more than three hours to complete.

Mavis rang her first peal at the age of 12 in November 1945.

She also rang for the royal wedding of the now-Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh in November 1947.

The Very Reverend David Brindley, Dean of Portsmouth, said: ‘This is an especially remarkable achievement, we applaud Mavis’ enduring commitment to her hobby and the community involvement that bell-ringing has brought to the Cathedral and the city.’

The bell-ringers at Portsmouth Cathedral practise on Thursdays and support the Sunday services.

The cathedral’s bells will be rung simultaneously with dozens of other towers across the county and beyond at 11am tomorrow.

In addition to the anniversary ringing, the cathedral will observe VE Day with a choral evensong marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe on Sunday at 6pm.

The bell-ringers are looking for new members. For more information visit portsmouthcathedral.org.uk

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