Torquay vicar Sam Leach has a fear of heights so he is planning to climb 165ft up his church spire to raise funds for repairs

The scary steeple facing scared vicar Sam LeachThe scary steeple facing scared vicar Sam Leach

A TORQUAY vicar with a fear of heights is planning a daunting fund-raising challenge – to climb 165ft to the top of his church spire.

St Mary Magdalene Church in Upton is currently covered in scaffolding for external repairs which were funded by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

But while the work has been going on, £7,000 of repairs are now needed in the kitchen which is a vital part of the church’s outreach to the community.

Church rector the Rev Sam Leach said: “We may fail health and hygiene standards.

Rev Sam Leach will climb 165ft to the top of his church spireRev Sam Leach will climb 165ft to the top of his church spire

“That would be a shame because our kitchen and sitting area is vital to our work in the community – the Living Room and Play Room which are open during the week.”

Contractors have erected 10 lifts of scaffolding and an 80ft ladder to repair the tower and steeple and it is up this precarious structure that the Rev Leach will attempt the climb.

He said: “It makes me feel sick just to think about it as I’m increasingly scared of heights looking up. Even going up an escalator, I have to hang on to the rail.

“I will be attached to a rope, I’m worried about whether I will freeze on the rungs and not be able to go up or down. Even if I don’t manage to get to the top I hope people will still be generous.”

He’ll be joined in the sponsored ascent by church warden Ed Williams (whose is OK with heights but frightened of ladders), Living Room pastor Petrina Jones and verger Gary Clarke.

He said keeping the community space open is a priority. The kitchen serves the community café called the Living Room which, in normal times, is open Wednesdays and Fridays. It is attended by many vulnerable people. On Mondays and Tuesday it provides refreshments for the Play Room which (pre-Covid) is used by 40-70 children and their parents/carers.

The climb will take place during the week of August 17 – weather permitting.

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Further details from Revd Sam Leach or Claire Clarke on 01803 211868.