School holidays may be over but September seems very much like summer at the moment. Whilst I did manage a short break in the Lake District, there were a few ringing items still occurring in July and August.
Over 7th/8th July we held the annual Diocesan Bell Advisers Conference in Warwick, part of the Council’s work with Church Care. Chris Pickford gave a comprehensive overview of bells in Warwickshire and Keith Chambers, adviser to Coventry Diocese, made an enthusiastic survey of work done and potential for the future, particularly making best use of old bells and installations. The sometimes emotive subject of radio masts in towers was my own talk and Alan Frost illustrated the key points of recording bells and bell frames. Church Buildings Council updated their side with reference to new faculty rules which were introduced in January. Finally, Andrew Wilby and Simon Adams talked about current challenges for the bell founder before we dispersed for a tower tour.
An official launch of the Heritage Open Day programme, headed by National Trust, took place in London on 18th July as a precursor to the September activities. No doubt as you read this many will have been involved in organising open days and demonstration ringing at your own towers, this is a most important event which I hope will continue to get ringers’ support in future years. The following day I had two more meetings in London, one regarding Safeguarding upon which an update will be appearing in the Ringing World soon. The second was our regular joint meeting with Church Care and Heritage England on bell related matters.
The Ringing World has not surprisingly been recording summer ringing tours and there was also an important article (pages 847-849) outlining opportunities for ringing at Universities. Anyone having young ringers going off to University should encourage their continued participation which could be of mutual benefit both to themselves and their University society. I would not normally single out a ringing performance but the peal at St James, Garlickhythe, London (report page 820) was the first by a local band newly trained on the “Royal Jubliee bells” by Dickon Love and which included no less than four “firsts” – well done.
You will have seen [published the list of volunteers who have joined the Council Review Action Group (CRAG) and will be conducting an independent review of the Council’s activities. They will be contacting many organisations and individuals throughout ringing circles and I trust that you will give them support and assistance when requested.
The fact that a review is taking place does not affect the ongoing work of the Council. We have just been involved in a number of radio interviews, myself covering 10 stations in 2 hours on Sunday 10th September with PRO Kate Flavell taking a similar range. As always one is hostage to the questions and assumptions made by interviewers but the positive aspect of ringing were brought to the fore.
Finally, the first of a series of Regional seminars is to be held at Southwark Cathedral on 1st October to which “home counties” societies have received invitations. The aim is to share experience and best practice in the way that ringing is run and highlight resources and new ideas available. It is the intention to cover as many societies as possible at different centres in coming months.
I hope you have all come back to ringing refreshed and with energy to do the best in your respective towers and societies, ringing only survives by what we do as individuals.
Chris Mew, September 2016