British Empire Medal for Tower Captain

Bell Tower Captain Bryan Birkett has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for services to bell ringing and the community.

Bryan, 79, has dedicated his life to bell ringing at his local church – St Bartholomew’s, Sutton cum Lound – and across the district. He celebrated 50 years’ service in July 2016 as the Tower Captain of St Bartholomew’s.

The BEM will be presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire Sir John Peace, and Bryan will also attend a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace later this year.

“I can’t believe it, it was totally unexpected,” said Bryan, who is a member of the Southwell and Nottingham Guild of Church Bell Ringers. “It is truly an honour to be acknowledged in this way.  Bell ringing is my life and I hope to be ringing for many years to come.”

As Tower Captain he has been responsible for the ringing of the bells at Sutton cum Lound, which have played an important part in many weddings, funerals, special occasions and church services.

One of Bryan’s proudest achievements has been seeing the three bells become eight over the last 50 years. Bryan himself donated the second bell in memory of his parents Arthur and Mary Birkett,

The bells of Sutton cum Lound are popular among ringers in the area who meet on a Wednesday evening to practice. Over the years Bryan has taught many new people to ring to keep the ancient art going, and the bells of St Bartholomew’s have featured numerous times on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Bells on Sunday’.