16 April 2024

‘Help us get clock chiming again this year’

by Rebecca Hannant

Organisers of the bid to restore Withernsea’s war memorial clock have said they are close to achieving their fundraising goal – but they still need more donations to ensure the clock can start chiming once more.

The group hopes to restore the clock at St Nicholas Church ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day in 2025.

The full restoration is expected to cost £50,000, which includes refurbishment of all the associated clock faces and levers and updating the clock to be self-operational.

The appeal has recently benefited from a grant of £5,000 from the War Memorials Trust grant scheme. The funds will join the support and grants given by Withernsea Town Council, Withernsea Big Local (the main grant funder), the Town War Memorial Clock working group, and the Churches Conservation Trust.

Other funders include Withernsea Lions, the Royal British Legion, the Withernsea Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, public donations and church fundraisers.

Frances Moreton, director at the War Memorials Trust, said: “War memorials remind us of all the millions of lives ended, or impacted, by conflict. Preserving them not only ensures we continue to commemorate them but also shows future generations the consequences of war and encourages them to avoid such suffering.

“The War Memorials Trust was delighted to award this project a grant. The charity hopes the work will help ensure its future as a focal point for commemoration. Anyone concerned about any other war memorials that might need help should contact the charity, or if you believe it is important to preserve our war memorial heritage, please donate to help us protect them.”

Darrin Stevens, of the Town War Memorial Clock working group, said: “We are delighted to receive a grant from the War Memorials Trust to enable us to proceed with the work needed. We are also thankful to all the people and funders involved in the project.”

However, after the latest round of funding, Darrin said they now faced a shortfall of £7,500, and is calling for donations from businesses and residents of Withernsea.

Darrin added: “I believe the people of Withernsea will want to hear the clock again and we will have it working this year. We can get a lot done, but there are some bits we can’t do. So, for instance, all the clock faces need to come down, be cleaned, be put back up, and to be restored with new brackets.

“Now, if everybody put £1 in – that’s 6,000 people living here – we would be nearly there. I’m sure there are some businesses out there that might give us a tenner. But for every 10 who do give us a pound, 10 might not, so you could argue, if 3,000 people could give us two quid, we’re still nearly there.”

The appeal has also benefited from the donation of a “doll house view” 3D model of the church and the clock tower.

Darrin said: “We’ve got a 3D model where you can walk through the door. So, for those who can’t get out of the house, they can walk through the door in this 3D model. They can ‘walk’ all the way around the church, in every room, down every pew, everything. Then you can walk through the doors, up the stairs, into the clock room. It was completely donated by a local man named Paul.

“You can do it on your phone as well. It’s brilliant.”

The group also plan to preserve the history of the clock through the legacy of its original fundraisers.

Darrin said: “We also have got the original accounts from 1945. I’ve now converted them into a spreadsheet and that’s going to go onto the website, and people can populate their grandparents or their parents, or whatever, with where they lived.

“We’ve already started to cherry-pick some of the names off there and there’s going to be a history of each of those people if we can find families to do it. It’s becoming a living document of Withernsea heritage – it’s really going to be about the people.

“Florence Cavell [sister of famous First World War nurse Edith Cavell] donated a pound. The irony was, she left £7,500 to her nephew in today’s money. That’s about £250,000 now. Imagine if we could populate that with the 400 people who donated the money.

“In 1945, people had no money. We’d been bombed, we had rationing, and yet predominantly, when you look at the list, you’ll see a lot of women donated £10. That’s like me coming and saying, can I have your wages for this week, please?

“How did these people do it in 1945? But they did. We were coming out of a war. There were a lot of people who had lost their partners, their brothers, their sisters, so I think they were compelled to give as much as they could.”

The organisers now hope that the clock will chime again before Christmas.