'Baby watch' comes to a ringing end

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013
george hill
NATASHA MARTIN/ Fairfax NZ
ROYAL WELCOME: St Mary's Church vestryman George Hill checks the CD of church bell music which was played to welcome the royal baby.
george hill
NATASHA MARTIN/ Fairfax NZ
ROYAL WELCOME: St Mary's Church vestryman George Hill checks the CD of church bell music which was played to welcome the royal baby.

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For 48 hours Timaru's St Mary's vestryman George Hill had been on "baby watch".

As arranged, and in keeping with the centuries-old Anglican tradition, he headed to the church yesterday morning to ensure the church "bells" rang out across the town to announce the arrival of the new royal heir.

And it was one of those tasks which came with the added complications of the church being closed due to earthquake concerns, and it having neither a resident priest nor a set of church bells.

But none of that was going to stop royalist Mr Hill from letting the town know the Prince of Cambridge had arrived.

There was a plan. If interim priest Reverend Canon Chris Rodgers had been in town he would have been in charge of "bell-ringing".

But as he splits his time between Timaru and Gore, Mr Hill had taken over the baby bells assignment earlier in the week.

He had even popped down to the church on Monday to make sure a CD of suitable bell music was on hand.

"We had decided if the baby was born overnight we would ring the bells at 9am," Mr Hill said.

So when the news came through that a baby boy had been born at 3.24am New Zealand time, he knew it was time to ring the bells.

For almost 10 minutes just after 9am the "bells" of St Mary's rang out thanks to the church's sound system and the CD Church Bells of England.

It turns out the church has only one bell, but since 2006 it has had a sound system which gives the impression the bells are being rung in the bell tower.

The sound of the church bells had not been heard since the 104-year-old church was closed in February last year after an engineer's report showed parts of the building were strengthened to only 10 per cent of current building codes.

And that sound was enough to have inner-city workers heading outside as the working day began, checking out exactly where the sound was coming from.

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- The Timaru Herald

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