President’s Blog #38

When my parents chose the name Simon it was because it was unusual. Lots of other parents around the time thought the same and there was a bulge in Simon production, with three in my class at Junior school. But we are now a long way past Peak Simon, and the name languishes outside the top 100, replaced with the likes of Maverick (a famous Tomcat pilot at 73) and Leonardo (a famous turtle at 93). Bellringing Simons are a select yet strong group, with some perseverance enabling us to ring a quarter of Little Bob 14 in hand on Ringing Room. A last hurrah for the Simons on the platform? No – which shows how Ringing Room is going to continue to have a place in bringing groups of ringers together who might not otherwise meet easily and help develop progress in change ringing. As well as keeping many of us sane for the last year, Ringing Room and Ding’s ability to bring ringers together will be one of their legacies.

One of the joys of ringing is that so many resources are developed and provided by so many different people and without charge. Every so often something that is valued is at risk or possibly even lost. So we have a team led by the T&T workgroup looking to identify all the software programmes and assets that we as ringers care about and seeing what can be done about making sure they are as safe as they can be. What would you miss if it went down? I am not missing the Bellringers Facebook group, but would miss BellBoard, Ringing Room, and the Changeringing Wiki, which is the easiest place I can find my PPE articles. You can email the team at it4ringers@cccbr.org.uk and watch out for their forthcoming survey.

Ringing for the birthday of the NHS was well supported and covered by the media – quite a few towers managed to get TV coverage. We had been a bit sceptical when Bruno Peek had first mentioned this about nine months ago. The practicalities of ringing 73 times were mere detail when we didn’t really know what sort of ringing would be possible. Thanks to all who took part and registered their events. It’s supposed to be annual now, but I bet this is something that will wear out.

Unlike the Fourth of July, which will no doubt last forever! Washington ringers celebrated Independence Day with a full peal at the Cathedral – the first ten bell peal outside Australia since March 2020. Five years to the big 250 – the US Semiquincentennial Commission has already started a countdown https://america250.org/

Sadly, questions on whether it was appropriate to dedicate ringing performances to England’s win over Italy in the Euros became academic late on Sunday night.

Meanwhile quite a few peal bands are lining themselves up to ring peals on 19 July, on the reasonable expectation that restrictions are going to get relaxed. When I received an invitation for a 9am start for a peal of Bristol Maximus I assumed it was a joke! But no – some people really are that keen, and will be reminding local populations that have missed their bells quite how long they sometimes get rung for.

Personally, I am going to stick to handbell peals for a while. Making a late entry into the world of handbell ringing has made me realise how much more difficult it is to learn when you are older. For all those who have learned young and found making progress in ringing easy, discovering that learning can be quite hard when you’re just the wrong side of 50 is a good lesson.

I still haven’t finished the Cornwall edition of the Ringing World, despite it being kept handily in one of our rooms of quiet contemplation. Presumably we are now working on County issues and will be working north? I hope Rutland is going to manage a complete issue. I was fascinated by the article in the Cornwall edition about Rounds ringing. I was aware it was ‘a thing’ but not exactly what people do, or that there was a complete society dedicated to it.

I also liked the alternative vocabulary. I would be interested to know of regional variations in other distant outposts of the Exercise. When I learned to ring at Cannock the signal to start ringing down was “Look to the fall”. Who else says that? I only realised that wasn’t universal when I said it in Essex and no one knew what I was talking about.

Picking up on a thread from Ringing Chat (sent to me by my in-house social media monitoring team) there is a lot of discussion about how churches might be used more. In my business life I am close to this subject as I am working with the Church of England on the development potential of church buildings. Churches are often simply too big, and using the space better, or using less of it, is high on the agenda (see what the CCT did at All Souls Bolton – perhaps the best example of creative reuse). If a building can still maintain some worship space but with the rest put to good use this would be a welcome outcome. Bells are now seen as part of the solution. If we can attract visitors and use for buildings that is welcomed.

Once a year the Council has a meeting with Historic England and the Church Buildings Council to catch on various matters churches and bells. The relationship with them is as strong as ever but it was still useful last week to discuss such matters as church closures, historic bell frames, progress on the Dove database project, the Clerical Guild’s proposed ‘Theology of Ringing’, and how ringing is part of the fabric of the church.

Diana Evans of Historic England followed up with “How positive the CCCBR’s approach is. The amount of energy you are all putting into recovery from the pandemic is amazing. Bell ringing is an important part of the life of many historic places of worship and Historic England is keen to encourage the continuation of this tradition.”

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content taken from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

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