A fearless teenager who strapped a camera to his head to film himself scaling Chester’s 120ft-high cathedral has been slammed by police, who branded his antics ‘fraught with obvious danger’.
Jack Bellis, 17, is an avid follower of ‘Parkour’, a form of free-running, where one runs, climbs and jumps through urban environments at speed, and regularly practices the sport in and around his home town of Wrexham.
In the past he’s scaled road bridges, leapt from rooftops and somersaulted off street furniture.
But his latest video, showing Jack and training partner Ben Pleavin using scaffolding to climb to the top of Chester Cathedral, has sparked criticism from Cheshire police, who warned the scaffolding surrounding the cathedral tower was ‘anything but a playground’.
Sgt Andy Burrage told The Chronicle: “Whilst some may consider the activities of these two lads impressive, their behaviour is fraught with danger.
“The scaffolding surrounding a 120ft high tower is anything but a playground, and these activities may constitute a civil trespass too.
“The building is delicate enough and any damage caused during climbing or free-running when trespassing might be deemed a criminal damage matter.
“Whilst acknowledging a certain degree of athletic ability I’d urge anyone considering copycat activities to reconsider.”
But Jack insists his actions aren’t dangerous, and says he’s avoided any serious injuries, apart from minor cuts and bruises. “People do say what we do is dangerous although I definitely wouldn’t say it is, as everything I do is well within my limits, it’s a never-ending progression,” he said.
“We often get moved on or our details taken by police or security at different spots, although it doesn’t frustrate me as such, it gives us reason to come down and explain what we’re doing.
“You can’t afford to let fear get in the way, fear is what stops a lot of people doing what they really want but since training parkour I’ve realised that fear is the only choice.”
Simon Warburton, Chester Cathedral’s director of operations, said: “We’re aware a small number of young people have been making use of cathedral property for parkour activities.
“For health and safety reasons, we would discourage this behaviour. On the occasion featured in the YouTube video, the young men were removed from the site by our cathedral constable and Cheshire Police.
“If you’re keen to take in the view from the cathedral’s central tower you should go on the much safer Cathedral at Height tour instead!”
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