The Education Committee delivered a brilliant learning experience by organising a fantastic Plain Hunt and Trebling to doubles methods course on Saturday.
The day began by meeting at Oakley St. Leonards Centre, near Basingstoke, for coffee and an introductory tutorial presentation delivered by Sallie Ingram. The 15 learners were split into three groups (I was in the blue group) with each group having its own itinerary of two churches to visit, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a lunch at a specified pub in between. Before we left for the first church we had to select our lunch choice from our allotted pub menu. This would be phoned through to the pub so that the day was as time efficient as possible.
Our Blue group of 5 learners and a few helpers then carshared and got to our first church at Sherborne St. John, meeting up with the rest of our cohort of helpers. I forgot to count but I think there was 5 learners and 7 or 8 helpers. Plenty. All experienced. All kind. Our lead(er) tutor was Mike Winterbourne who made sure that everybody got their fair share of learning, focused us on details of techniques and, of course, putting theory into practice.
In every learning environment, confidence has to be managed well. Mike and all the helpers were endlessly helpful and respectful of the challenges us learners faced and happily rang Plain Hunt all day with a purpose.
Our group had lunch at The Vine, Hannington on a long table reserved for us in their conservatory, the odd pint being had to offset the heat of the sun room and take advantage of the car sharing!
With lunch and a few unplanned puddings eaten, we moved to the afternoon’s tower of ringing, Wolverton.
Us five learners carried on learning to hunt inside, trying different bells in different places. My highlight was ringing on bell 4, and pulling of in tittums, me being in second place. Never done that before! And then hunting a bit and ending, surprisingly, back in the same place I started!
I had an impromptu introduction to the mysterious world of Geocaching by one of our coaches, Paul, which was really interesting, before racing back to Oakley for a debrief of tea and cake to round off a brilliant day of ringing and learning.
Thanks to all involved in a terrific education day. Looking around at what other guilds do around the country, it seems that here in our patch of bellringing we’re really lucky that we have such a large collection of willing helpers, both front of stage and backstage.
Wolverton Church has two large circular windows which let in a decent amount of natural and directional light. I was too busy with my ringing to capitalise on this so I passed my camera to Isla Ingram, Andy and Sallie’s 12 year old daughter to make a photo record of the session as she was having a break from ringing. I set the camera to Shutter Priority 80th/sec, gave her a brief driving lesson on some of the buttons and off she went. She did a super job.
As bellringers, we spend an enormous amount of our leisure time in a pursuit that rarely gets represented in documentary form through photography. Peal boards and Bellboard are all well and good but hardly represent the everyday physical and emotional effort that we put into the art nor the pleasure we get out of it. How can we share this easily to non-ringers? Will our families be able to flick or click through albums and reminisce over images of us, vibrant and engaged in our hobby of choice? Pictures are worth thousands of words. To make those pictures you need light. Flash is too obtrusive and most ringing chambers are too dimly lit even for modern smartphones to capture images worth sharing. Hence the lack of photos. If you’re wondering what to get your ringing chamber for Christmas, how about a nice large window? Or maybe just some nice big lightbulbs?
Thanks to those windows and thanks to Isla’s photography we have some great photos that show the work of the Education Committee and all the helpers, and I’ve got photos of those who have taught me to ring. I’ll be looking at those pictures in years to come, always able to put the face to the name.
Photography by Isla Ingram