Little girl helps London’s Big Ben

Londons Big Ben bongs will stop working due to the renovation.

When a little girl, devoted BBC Radio 4 listener heard this news, she met with dismay. Eight-year-old Phoebe Hanson wrote a letter and offered her service to replace Big Ben to provide a replacement. She will shout “BONG” and play chimes on the microphone in BBC studio while the clock is being repaired.

A few days later Roger Sawyer, the show’s editor responded to Phoebe’s letter admitting that: “some of the cleverest and most important people at BBC are scratching their heads wondering what to do,” but he kindly warned her how burdensome this task can be.

BBC letter continues: “As you know, the bongs are live … and the beginning of the Westminster Chimes is always at a slightly different time. It depends on things like temperature and atmospheric pressure and stuff like that.”

“So it would be quite a task for you, doing the bongs: you’d have to rush in after school each day (and at the weekend), rush home for tea, homework, a bit of chillin’, then a quick sleep. And then – here’s the hard bit – you’d have to rush back in again at midnight because there are live bongs again before the midnight news. That’s an awful lot of work for someone who is still quite young. I know I wouldn’t like to do all that.”

Jon Hanson, little girls father told to BBC RADIO 4: “She was listening to Radio 4 in the car and Eddie Mair was saying that Big Ben would stop chiming next year, and she said, ‘Oh no, we have to do something about it. I want to write a letter.’ She takes things very literally as she is on the autism spectrum, so I think she still wants to do the bongs.” He posted the story and the letter on his Facebook page.

The clock which is the heart of Big Ben is 157 years old and chimes will have to pause for several months during next year while £29m worth renovation is finished.