THE SOUNDS of success are peeling out over Dorstone village after the church bells were rung for the first time in more than 70 years.

And who better to officially mark the occasion than three of the village's oldest inhabitants.

Most of the residents would never have heard the bells, which were silenced before 1950 when the bell tower at St Faith's was declared unsafe and had to be lowered by 30 feet.

Not only are the four original bells back ringing, two others have been added, which means the church now has a ring of six for the first time ever.

A special ribbon cutting was arranged to mark the completion of the £150,000 Dorstone Bell Restoration Project, although the bells had actually been rung two weeks earlier as they were tested.

A large crowd of funders, supporters and parishioners turned up at the ceremony and listened in the churchyard as the six bells rang out.

They were rung first by Dorstone’s own bell ringers and then by ringers from other towers who had taught them their skills.

The ribbon was cut by Betty Lane, Ray Birchenough and Ernest Morgan.

The original four bells (1350, 1639, 1650 & 1654) are now fully refurbished and repaired, and placed on a metal bell frame, with new fixtures and fittings.

The four have become six thanks to a gift from the Keltek Trust of two second-hand Warner bells dating from 1904 from St Mary’s church in Richmond, Yorkshire.

CCTV cameras have been installed so that the ringers and the moving bells can be seen from inside the church.

There is also a training bell for potential ringers to try out their skills in safety and silence.

The project was made possible by a £90,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Other funders, including the Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and the Hereford Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers contributed to the total of £150,000.

It is rare for bell ringers to get the chance to ring such ancient bells, so it is expected that many ringers will be attracted to the tower in the future.