Thursday 26 April 2018

Hunt has a clanger ringing bells

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has broken a bell during an Olympics celebration on the deck of HMS Belfast (Locog/PA)
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has broken a bell during an Olympics celebration on the deck of HMS Belfast (Locog/PA)

Jeremy Hunt has narrowly avoided injuring bystanders when a bell he was ringing flew off its handle during an Olympics celebration.

The Culture Secretary was ringing his bell in his right hand on the deck of HMS Belfast when the brass become detached from its wooden handle and shot through the air above the deck of the Second World War cruiser. He watched helplessly as the bell disappeared among a group of Olympics fans, his face betraying the fear and horror that a bystander may be seriously hurt.

But fortunately the bell missed hitting anyone, with a clearly relieved Mr Hunt caught on a Sky News camera saying: "Oh, oh dear! Are you all right? Health and safety! Are you OK? There we are, disaster averted."

The Belfast is permanently moored on the Thames near London's Tower Bridge, with Mr Hunt aboard as part of the All the Bells celebration as people across the country rang bells to mark the start of the 2012 Games.

The Tory minister later made light of the near-miss, comparing it with a scene from the BBC comedy Twenty Twelve. He wrote on Twitter: "Oops bell broke taking part in Martin Creed's ringing in of the one hurt but classic #twentytwelve moment."

Mr Hunt later told the BBC: "I was ringing a bell in a very excited way and it collapsed in my hand and went flying off. I had my very own 2012 moment. It was a clanger."

Big Ben has chimed non-stop for three minutes to ring in the Olympic Games. The London landmark was joined by hundreds of churches and other organisations across the nation as bell ringers greeted the official start of London 2012.

The hour bell of the landmark Palace of Westminster clock began chiming at 8.12am on Friday. It pealed 40 times over the following three minutes. Special permission had to be gained for the hour bell at the Palace of Westminster to be allowed to toll out of its regular sequence.

It is believed to be the first time that the strike of Big Ben has been rung outside its normal schedule since February 15 1952, when it tolled every minute for 56 strokes for the funeral of King George VI. The bells at the National Assembly for Wales, Stormont in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Parliament also rang so that all four Parliaments chimed in unison at 8.12am, London 2012 said.

The cacophony of sound is for the All The Bells event, the brainchild of Turner Prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed, who is encouraging everyone in the UK to ring a bell to mark the beginning of the Olympic Games.

Press Association

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