Man in stable condition after rescue from St James’ Church tower

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An 83-year-old man who was rescued from the bell tower at St James’ Church while a Sunday morning communion service took place below remains in a stable condition in hospital.

The bell-ringer, who has been named locally as Norman Abel, collapsed in the bell tower shortly after the 10.30am communion service got underway on Sunday February 16.

Four fire engines attended the scene, alongside paramedics and specialists, and a hydraulic platform was used to carry him down from the tower on a stretcher.

Mr Abel is believed to be in a stable condition at Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby.

Part of Westgate, between Schoolhouse Lane and Bridge Street, was closed off for less than one hour while the emergency services carried out their rescue.

Ben Westoby, who lives near to St James’ Church, said: “I spoke to one of the bell-ringers, who was in good spirit, and he reported that it was indeed his colleague who had collapsed returning down the stairs in the church spire.

“He said that he was ‘getting looked after’, but getting him down from the church appeared to be the biggest problem.”

The tower’s narrow staircase, coupled with the man’s condition, meant that the hydraulic platform had to be used for the rescue operation instead.

Mr Abel was removed from the tower through a door on to the roof, and was then stretchered on to the hydraulic platform to be brought down.

Robert Haynes, a church warden who was on duty during the service, said: “I was quickly alerted to what was going on above.

“I went up the tower, assessed the situation, and called the emergency services on 999.

“The paramedics arrived within five minutes.

“Due to the general difficulties with getting up the bell tower, they decided that the Fire and Rescue team were required.

“The rescue team and the paramedics were excellent and very responsive, so we would like to extend our thanks to them.

“The Sunday service carried on in the church below, and there was very little disruption. Westgate was closed for around half an hour.”

Mr Haynes added: “We would like to wish the man a speedy recovery.

“He is a regular churchgoer, and has been bell-ringing for around thirty years.”