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Health and safety rules threaten lights out at church

Health and safety rules threaten lights out at church Credit: MEN Syndication

Candles which light up a town centre church are at risk of being snuffed out due to new health and safety rules.

The 90 candles suspended high up at St Michael’s Church on Market Place create a magical atmosphere for events including Christmas carols, brass band concerts and weddings. There are two main Jacobean and Victorian brass chandeliers which hold some of the candles and five smaller chandeliers.

For 20 years they have been lit by David Smith, 60, who climbs 20ft up a ladder to reach them.

But now health and safety rules mean that David, of Tytherington Park Road, Tytherington is only permitted to climb 9ft – which means he can no longer get close enough.

He and other church members have launched an appeal to raise £7,000 for an electronic winch and pulley system which would mean the candles can be lit from the ground. The chandeliers would have to be removed from the chains they currently hang from and suspended on new cables. David would use a remote control to bring the chandeliers down to be lit. David, who with wife Sheena is a member of the church choir, said:

The candles are a feature of our services especially in the winter.

Sadly new health and safety regulations have restricted my duties so I can no longer go up a 20ft ladder. It’s disappointing but it’s happening everywhere. Now we want to raise the money we need for the winch and pulley.

I enjoy seeing the church lit up and people have come to expect to see the candles. I like the joy people get and when they say how beautiful they look. It will be very sad if we can no longer light the candles.

– David Smith

The church is hosting a whisky and hot pot supper at 7.30pm on Friday, June 3 to raise money. Neil Raval will host the event, which features an explanation of Scotch whisky distillation and a selection of whiskies with tasting notes. David said:

I hope as many people as possible come along. We need people to support our appeal so we can keep the candles lit for everyone to enjoy.

– David Smith

Tickets are £25 available from David, payable in advance to D A Smith, c/o 21 Tytherington Park Road, Macclesfield, or from the parish office, town hall and Portland Wine Company on Chester Road.