Vivien Willmott & Raymond Clayton

Vivien Willmott & John Clayton
Vivien Willmott & John Clayton
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Wedding bells were already ringing as soon as Vivien Willmott and Raymond Clayton met.

The couple, from Withnell, Chorley, were in the ringing room at Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton when their eyes met.

Vivien Willmott & John Clayton

Vivien Willmott & John Clayton

Vivien, a customer services advisor at Ghostbikes, Preston said: “It had been 28 years since I had done any ringing but, spurred on by my friend, Ann, while we were out horseriding, I decided to return in January 2013.”

With Raymond, a horological engineer mainly looking after public clocks also being in charge of ringing at Holy Trinity, their paths inevitably crossed.

Vivien, who is originally from Altrincham, Cheshire, says the couple got to know each other through ringing together and drinking at the Royal Oak, Riley Green.

She added: “Our first official date was at the Naga restaurant in Abbey Village.

Vivien Willmott & John Clayton

Vivien Willmott & John Clayton

“However, we were spotted by a Hoghton ringer who was out for a meal herself that evening so the secret was out!”

Though there was no official proposal, the couple set a date to marry after they were approached by the Reverend David Ward, vicar of St James’ Church at Brindle, after a practice session at the church one evening.

“We were enjoying a beer in the Cavendish Arms with the Brindle ringers when he can over to us, diary in hand, and said, ‘what date are you getting married, I’ve got my diary with me’”, says Vivien.

“No pressure then!”

A date was set and on July 26, the couple were married at the very church where they met.

The bride entered the church to a piece of music played by a string quartet written by her father, the late Kenneth Willmott, who had been a professional violinist with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

Accompanying her were her sons, Simon and Paul Davies, who gave her away, and later by the couple’s springer spaniel, Holly, who carried the rings up the aisle during the service.

Husband of the matron of honour, Dr Simon Wright, who had accompanied his wife up from the Cotswolds for the occasion, played the organ throughout the ceremony.

And the bride’s vocal tutor son, Paul, gave a beautiful rendition of ‘You Raise Me Up’.

There was no rest for the groom though.

In his role of sexton and verger at Holy Trinity for more than 30 years, he officiated on the day!

And after the newlyweds were pronounced husband and wife, what else was there to do but climb the staircase to the ringing room to join in the ringing to celebrate their special day with all their friends in appropriate style.