Floodlit spire is all thanks to Vera

March 05 2019

VOICE readers have probably noticed the stunning floodlit spire at Holy Trinity Church in Stapleton, but how many know the fascinating story behind it?

The lighting on the church's spire, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is all thanks to the late Vera Ashford whose house looked out towards the tower.
Vera had a dream about seeing the church's spire lit after getting the idea whilst holidaying in Cornwall in the late 1960s.
Her son, Barrie, said: “My mother and I looked out and saw the floodlit church when we were on holiday in St Ives. It was such a moving sight. Everything was black apart from the little floodlit chapel set on a hill between the town's beaches. She was stunned and immediately said how wonderful it would look if Stapleton Church, with its prominent setting on Bell Hill, was also floodlit.”
Vera wouldn't let her idea drop so Barrie set about making her dream come true.
After securing the agreement of the local councillor John Vowles who, as luck would have it was a lighting specialist, and the vicar of the church, Canon Norman Campbell, Barrie set to work.
The project was very much a team effort. Cllr Vowles' boss, Graham Amos of Design Lighting, donated the first lights, local electricians Dennis Greaves and Paul Convey contributed the skilled work, whilst Barrie, John Vowles and Peter Phipps provided the labour.
“Mum had a lots of input into it, hurrying us along to finish the installation without delay. It was pretty dodgy as we had to run a cables from the parapet down through to the inside of the north door, which is quite a drop. We had to use long ladders to get power to the lights placed on the gallery at the base of the spire. It would definitely be frowned upon with today's health and safety regulations.”
After a week of hard labour and testing the group was ready for the big switch-on but it was Vera who most eagerly anticipated what would greet them.
"She was over the moon when she saw the spire lit up for the first time. She could see it from her house and every evening she would go outside to look at it. I think there was something a bit spiritual about it for her. It contributed greatly to her spirits in her latter years at home.”
Barrie, who still lives in Stapleton, said: “It somehow gives a feeling of well being when people see it, many finding it quite moving and reassuring. The lighting of the spire certainly seems to be very popular with all who see it.”
Following Vera's death aged 91 in 2004, it was suggested by the church's parish council that the illuminations be renamed "The Vera Ashford Memorial Spire Lights" in her memory.
For the past 50 years the spire has been lit for special religious occasions such as Christmas Day and Easter and at the request of anyone who wishes to commemorate a special occasion or memory.
New replacement light fittings have recently been installed and are now undergoing alignment and focusing tests to get the best effect possible and to last for many years to come.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the lights, Fishponds Voice will light the spire later this year for all its readers to enjoy.
You can find out more about having the spire lit to mark a special occasion by calling the church office on 0117 958 5556 or emailing office@holytrinitystapleton.org.uk
The church charges £15 to light the spire for an evening which helps cover the cost of electricity and raises money for church funds.
Dedications will also be printed in the following month's church newsletter.