Almost all the towers this year, have similar messages.
Recruiting and retention are a constant worry especially when we think to the future. Variable attendance of some newer members slows their progress and prevent more advanced ringing. People are willing to come along to open days to find out about ringing but are unwilling to commit. Most towers are able to manage service ringing, weddings and funerals, often with the help of ringers from neighbouring towers. Andover can manage a monthly practice only. Having only 5 ringers they would really welcome support from visitors on practice night.
A few have managed to ring quarter peals for special occasions (WW1 commemorations, royal and family events and for church members who are moving away). Visiting bands also have occasionally have rung QPs this year.
Other tower visitors have included school parties, Rainbows, scouts and cubs as well as those who drop in during church fetes if the tower is open. These visits have yielded new recruits at several towers in the last few years and hopefully the younger ones will return at a later date.
Some towers mention particular events.
A new kitchenette is in the process of being installed at St. Mary Bourne. No ringing is possible there at present but Hurstbourne Priors has welcomed the band to their practices. Abbotts Ann is pleased with the progress made and local interest expressed in their hand bell group. They have also started to ring methods! Whitchurch is trialling a plastic rope top to see if it will help in preventing breakages.
The joint practices held at Woolton Hill and Burghclere with additional ringers from Kingsclere and Kintbury continue to pay dividends. Their new recruit made his public debut at the carol service on Christmas eve.