87-year-old Sidbury church tour guide ends 15th year

A popular Sidbury tour guide says showing people around the village church keeps his spirits up after the loss of his wife.

Alan Softly has been leading curious Christians around St Giles every week of the tourist season for the last 15 years.

The 87-year-old has vowed to return for 2013 ‘if he’s still standing,’ after finishing for another year yesterday.

Alan and his wife Barbara became heavily involved with the church after moving to the village 27 years ago.

“She was the brains of the outfit, I was the front man,” said Alan.

Barbara died early last year, and Alan said that guiding people around the church helps him stay positive.

He finds that putting on a performance helps to bring the history to life more easily.

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Barbara was a published writer and compiled several books on St Giles’ Church, with profits from the sales going to the parish.

“As the years have gone on, I’ve changed from saying ‘They did this and they did that,’ to ‘We did this and we did that,’” he joked.

Alan said he always has always a very interesting load of people for his talk, which is accompanied by a cup of tea and a biscuit.

There is plenty of history in the building, and over the last decade and a half, Alan has been able to identify its various peculiarities and pick out his favourites.

The crypt there is one of only six in the country, there are intricate stained glass windows with the artist’s signature, and flecked paint hints at fascinating murals painted over during the Reformation.

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