"DING dong merrily on high" - parishioners of Bampton, near Shap, are hoping to ring in Christmas with a new set of church bells.

The £90,000 appeal launched at St Patrick's Parish Church last October has proven so successful that sponsors have now been found for all six bells.

A coach party is expected to travel to Loughborough, home of the world's largest bell foundry, on Wednesday, September 27 to witness "the historic occasion" of the new bells being cast from an alloy of tin, copper and bronze.

John Taylor & Co bells are described as "beautifully harmonically tuned" to produce "purity and sweetness of tone". It is hoped the ring of bells will be installed before Christmas so they can peal out over the Lowther Valley for the festive season.

Local families have sponsored four of the bells, to be named Bampton, Burnbanks, Butterwick and Knipe.

The Lowther bell, named after the river that runs through the parish, has been sponsored by a collection of people including bell ringers from Bampton and across Cumbria, whose names will be inscribed, together with the words: "A bell for those who have their roots, have lived and walked in Westmorland".

The bell is also to feature the Westmorland coat of arms, in memory of the fact that the church's five 18th century bells made their final peal on March 29, 1974, to bid farewell to the old county.

Meanwhile, the Bomby bell has been sponsored by Clair Crowther, who spent "many happy holidays" with her parents and sister Eve at the Crown & Mitre in Bampton in the early 1980s.

"Our bedroom was always at the front of the pub and, being a light sleeper, I was awoken every quarter of an hour by the 'unusual' chimes," said Mrs Crowther, whose husband Jim is also sponsoring the appeal.

"It was because of my happy memories of this wonderful part of the Lake District that I thought it a fitting tribute to offer to fund one of the new bells in memory of my dad, Trevor Howell, who died, much too young, aged 49 and I greatly appreciate that my offer has been accepted.

"The knowledge that my dad’s name will be on one of the new bells for generations to come makes Bampton an even more special place for our family."

A key part of the Bampton Bells Appeal is to restore the five old bells at St Patrick's Church, which can no longer ring full-circle but continue to chime the hours and quarter-hours of the Edwardian church clock mechanism.

Mr Pitt told the Gazette that although the six new bells had found sponsors, there was still a need for more money to cover the cost of the bell fittings. If you would like to donate, visit facebook.com/bamptonbells