THE bells at Nevern church look set to ring again before the end of the year.

It is 120 years since the bells at St Brynach last rang out across the village but now, thanks to a huge two-year fundraising effort, the project to restore the church tower and bells is entering the most exciting phase.

All the bells and old bell frame have been taken down to be refurbished and building work is scheduled to start on the tower and roof.

And, in an exciting development, what started out as a scheme simply to restore the tower and the original six bells dating back to 1763, has expanded and it is now planned to install 10 bells, including two news bells specially commissioned and to be cast in Milan.

“Having 10 bells will put the church on the world ringing map,” said committee chairman Duncan Fitzwilliams.

“There are only six other churches in Wales that have 10 bells – five of the other peals of 10 being cathedrals.

“Not only are 10 bells musically superior, but the Nevern 10 bells will be much lighter than in other churches and a greater attraction to bell ringers of all ages, especially the young and those of a more mature age.

“One of the bells we have been given for the new peal by the Keltec Trust is the Garthbrengy Bell, cast by William Wettmore in 1593. This bell has a preservation order on it and is considered very special. There are only four other bells known to have been cast by this bell founder and two are in the Royal Chapel at Windsor."

The project has attracted huge community support, which match-funded a £123,600 National Lottery Heritage Fund donation.

A leading Welsh musical charity contributed a grant of £40,000, while Pembrokeshire County Council provided an £11,000 grant.

Committee secretary Maggie Campbell said: “We are so grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and all those organisations and individuals who have supported us all the way.

“It has brought the community together and there is excitement and a real buzz around what we are trying to do. We have more than 20 people learning to bell ring aged from 18 to 77. They have been practicing at Cardigan on a Saturday morning and we cannot wait for them to ring at Nevern for the first time.

“And in another spin-off, we have a hand bell ringing team as well which is great fun and has brought people together as well.”

But there is to be no let-up in the fund-raising drive.

“When the bells and beams were taken out and the walls of the tower exposed, it because clear that the roof and walls were in a worse state than previously thought,” added Duncan.

“That will mean more money to put it right but if we had not discovered this, the chances are it would have reached a stage where we could not carry out repairs and the church would have had to close.

“The position is manageable but we cannot relax and must carry on raising money to see us over the line.”

Ian Hastilow, the St Davids diocese bell advisor, said: “Nevern has cleverly utilised the existing six bells, a bell from a local church, with important historical connections to the fallen in The First World War, two bells from Canada and two other important ancient bells.

“Combining these with the two new cast bells, will cleverly blend traditional workmanship and knowledge with current technology. This will give a superb set of bells for change ringing.”