Children from Deerhurst and Apperley Church of England Primary School gathered on Friday within hearing of their much-loved memorial village clock, which was restored in time to mark Remembrance Sunday.
The clock towers above the village’s war memorial and its comforting chimes are a popular feature of village life. The clock has been out of action since August 2022.
A former churchwarden, who looked after the clock for 40 years, was winding it when a weight dropped off and plummeted through two wooden floors, smashing the floor tiles beneath. No one was hurt, but the memorial clock needed extensive repairs, costing over £14,000.
Messages poured in from villagers missing the comforting chimes of the clock. The church team, led by churchwarden Danny Vince and treasurer Jim Burrows, began fundraising and applying for grants to restore the clock to its former glory. Local people donated just short of £4,000, The War Memorial trust contributed £4,650 and The Benefact Trust (All Churches Trust) gave £2,300 towards the work. There were also contributions from The Severnsider Coffee and Cake Morning, Deerhurst Community Care Group and Deerhurst Parish Council.
They have just over £3,000 still to raise for the work done so far and are hoping to raise a further £4,000 to restore the clock face when the weather is better next year.
Jim said, “We had a huge and heartfelt response from the local community about the importance of repairing the clock. It’s a huge part of our lives and we felt that the restoration was essential. It’s very unusual for a memorial to have a physical function as well as being a focal point to gather and we are proud of our history and of the men who lost their lives.”
The clock was built in 1948 as a way to remember the nine people from the small parish of Deerhurst with Apperley who were killed in WW2.
The parish currently has a population of around 1,000, but back in 1948 this would have been around 600. The names of the men who died are listed on a memorial plaque in the church and some of them having relatives still living in the village today.
Local historian and President of Tewkesbury Historical Society John Dixon has researched the men and shares what he has learned in his publication Commemoration of local war dead in World War II.
He writes that Navy CPO Edgar Banfield (above left) was the first local service man to lose his life in WW2. A professional seaman, he was 38 when his submarine HMS Tarpon was reported as ‘overdue’.
Petty Officer Stoker Albert Henry Hannis (right) was 28 when his ship was bombed and sunk in the attempt to defend Crete from the Nazi invasion.
The Vicar, the Revd Isle Ferwerda, said, “We are delighted that the clock, which is such a poignant memorial to those who lost their life, is back in action in time for Remembrance Sunday. Once again we shall gather on The Green outside church to hear the bells toll – fortunately with the clock and bell in good working order after their repairs. The community of Deerhurst and Apperley have really worked hard and come together to show their support, and thanks to their efforts and those of the churchwardens and treasurer who initiated the fundraising campaign, the community can hear the bells again.
“We can never say enough thank yous to everyone who has supported and donated to help achieve this. Thank you all so much for all you did and do!”