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President’s Blog #28

I have got over my daughter Charlie using the term “the olden days” for anything earlier than about 1980, even if for me the olden days would be those of Bill Pye or James George. I don’t think hearing ringers over the age of 25 described this week as “oldies” helped either. However 25 is the upper age limit for the proposed young ringers’ organisation that is currently being put together and consulted on.

A team of six young ringers has been working on this for about three months now and although they still haven’t worked out a name for it, they have what seems to be a really good plan. Last week we set up two Zoom focus groups for them so that they could present their ideas to other young ringers. It is an international organisation being designed by young ringers for young ringers, responding to their needs as seen by them, one of which is to have merch and pins. I didn’t want to point out that we had ringing pins (formerly known as badges) in the olden days – I had a collection of about 20 association badges on my denim jacket until Paul Williams advised me that they were naff.

Ian Roulstone, who is our Workgroup Leader for University & College Ringing, and a Professor of Mathematics at Surrey, is working on a programme to open a new specialist sixth form maths school in 2023. Three of these new schools now exist – King’s College London, Exeter, and Liverpool – and others are planned at Durham, Leeds, Lancaster, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Guildford (Ian’s one). Each school is associated with a university and teaches Maths, Further Maths, other STEM subjects and music, to students with innate ability. Ian sent an outline of a plan to what appeared to be the crème de la crème in the centre of the ringing/maths/computing Venn diagram. I felt honoured even to be copied in. The idea is to provide material about the mathematics of change ringing, and potentially the crossover with computing, that can be used by the schools in special project work. Might capture a few new recruits with ideal skillsets.

What managed to persuade 40 young ringers to spend an hour in a workshop last Saturday painting stones? Hosted by the Worcester Cathedral young ringers, this was painting stones with themes of bells, memorial and remembrance. Now these 40 ‘Foundation Stones’ will join thousands of others to form part of the UK Holocaust Memorial to be built in London in 2023 (subject to planning permission!). Any other young ringers who take part will go on a ringing outing to London when the memorial is finally unveiled near Westminster Abbey.

The Foundation Stones project is being led by the Big Ideas Company. If that name rings a bell, it is because the BIC was responsible for the Ringing Remembers campaign, working with Vicki Chapman who went on to become the Central Council’s PRO. We are supporting Foundation Stones partly to support the BIC, who are very interested in doing another campaign with us, but also because if we could get hundreds of stones with bell themes on the final memorial it would be a powerful symbol of the link between bells and memorial. The BIC will run workshops for any ringing groups that want one – something a bit different if you’re running out of ideas.

Finally, for what is turning into a bit of a young ringers special, we had a young ringing ‘symposium’ a couple of Saturdays ago to make sure those involved in youth ringing strategies on a wider level are singing from the same hymn sheet, or at least know what others are doing. Following a presentation from Matt Jerome on the proposed young ringers association, we heard what the Schools, Youth and Universities Workgroups are doing, about Roger Booth’s progress on an HLF funding bid for getting bells into schools (working with the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain), the latest plans for the RWNYC, and of course ART’s work in this area.

Not to be outdone by last Saturday’s quarter peal day on Ringing Room organised by the intriguingly named Badgers Handbell Ringers, which saw 60 handbell quarters rung to mark the first anniversary of Ringing Room, the Cast of 1000 is having a quarter peal day on 13 March. There have been 50 practices now with over 100 participants, with lots of ringers either making progress with Surprise Major, or just enjoying being helpful and ringing with different people. That is one of the great things about online ringing – you can ring with people you would not otherwise get to see.

Sometimes the timing of news is just wrong. The Ringing World’s production deadline means my blog needs to be finished on Monday night so that the Editor has just enough time to slot it into its reserved space prior to his Tuesday lunchtime deadline. He’d love it to be earlier! Monday afternoon’s announcement on the possible lifting of Covid restrictions in England doesn’t give me much time to reflect on the implications for ringing, and by Friday we will have needed to catch up with the CofE Recovery Group and publish new guidance. What we just hope is that this is not a false dawn.

One comment from a young ringer when comparing ringing with one of her other activities was “why are ringers so nasty to each other?” The Bellringers Facebook group can be such a force for good but it can also be a forum which proves that young ringer right. Many have stopped using it as a result. We really need the main Facebook groups to be a safe place for our fellow ringers, where the fine line between banter and bullying does not get crossed. We cannot just leave it to the hardworking admins and expose them to even more abuse. Let’s help them stamp it out.

Finally, February 15 was World Hippo Day. How on earth did I miss that?!

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

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

Survival and Recovery – Newsheet 3

The third newsheet from the Survival and Recovery team – an ART, CCCBR partnership – has just been published. It’s a one-stop shop for news – what’s happening and what we are planning to happen – which complements the BellBoard Virtual Hub.

http://ringingteachers.org/download_file/view/1955/1556

This issue features the Survival and Recover Toolbox which contains a plethora of resources, case studies and opinion pieces for ringers, Tower Captains and Guilds and Associations. It is a work in progress and if you think we’re missing something or have something that you think would be useful to others then please let us know.

http://ringingteachers.org/survival-and-recovery-toolbox

If you find the newsheet useful and interesting then why not forward it to your ringing friends – the more the merrier!

Winchester District ADM – Sat 13th Feb at 3PM

Dear All,


Our first formal meeting of the year and since Lockdown was imposed will take place via Zoom, on Saturday 13th February. As you will see from the attached agenda we shall open the Zoom ‘room’ fifteen minutes early to allow people to sign in and be admitted. The link for the meeting is:-

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88388969942?pwd=VGhHOGFaTmYxZlBQbHlLU0ZxaE8vZz09


or, if you with to sign in with the meeting id and passcode these are:-
Meeting ID: 883 8896 9942 Passcode: 135246


I fear that because I can only compose in plain text the link will not work simply by clicking on it, but it should work if you copy it and paste it into your browser. The link will work, however, from the agenda.
The accounts (long since signed off) and District Report will follow in due course, with my apologies for creating two instalments of the process of notification.


Advantages: We do get to meet; no travelling; your choice of sandwiches and cakes for the virtual ringers’ high tea.

Disadvantages: I have zero experience of hosting, we’ll just have to see how this goes; thank goodness Andrew knows what he’s about. No ringing … though I could set up a Ringing Room if anyone fancies catching hold afterwards.


Best wishes,


Bruce

District Secretary

Link to download a PDF of all documents

President’s Blog #27

People who know me know not to write anything important in the second paragraph of emails. Make your point early and don’t bother with the “How are you? Hope you are staying busy in these difficult times” section. So, to test you out I am going to ask a question in my opening paragraph and answer it at the very end, to check whether you have read that far. By how much can a bellframe move before it causes noticeable problems for the ringers?

I ask that because last Wednesday I enjoyed a fascinating talk by Gordon Breeze about how to model and measure the movement of towers. Towers can be extremely complex structures, and this is modelling with a PHD level of complexity, thankfully explained to us in a GSCE/A level sort of way (almost). Gordon is Head of Wind Engineering at the Building Research Establishment and has developed a way of modelling the movement of towers, based on an initial project at Wingrave. The methodology can potentially be used in other scenarios to help us determine where to position a bellframe to avoid risk of tower movement, and hence ringer discomfort. We still need some bucking broncos of course to give us our war stories, but not for everyday use please.

Hopefully you saw one of the news stories about how the Dove database is now being adopted as the central registry of bell information for all heritage bodies, including the Church Buildings Council, which has always maintained its own database of bells and bellframes. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, but the importance of the agreement was clear from the delight of those who brought it about – Mark Regan, Chris Pickford and Dickon Love. Bells and bellframes aren’t ‘listed’ in the same way that buildings are. I have always thought that it might be desirable to be able to list a ring of bells at its current number in order to stop anyone augmenting great examples of rings of bells. Should Chewton Mendip be protected as an eight for instance, or Maidstone as a 10?

A long discussion on the changeringers email list centred on the “Zone Articles”, articles I originally wrote about 15 years ago which established the now well used descriptions of different levels of ringing as being Blue, Red and Black Zones. It actually became a discussion of how we find ringing information. No one searching for “Zone articles” could find them, and I could only find them because I knew what the articles were originally called when they were printed in the Ringing World (“Room at the Top”, for reasons which are unlikely to become clear). So a topic for our epic-length Executive and Workgroups meeting next Sunday is going to be how best to help ringers navigate all the ringing websites and find what is important to them. Does everyone know about ringing.info? Does anyone use the changeringing wiki? What do you actually expect to find on the Central Council or Ringing World websites? Links to the articles can be found at the bottom.

Quite a few people have tolled a bell 100 times either to remember the 100,000 Covid deaths in the United Kingdom or in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore. We discussed ringing a single bell for Captain Tom’s funeral at our fortnightly discussion with the CofE Recovery Group, but they have already got into a pickle on this subject (search for deleted tweet controversy) and cannot take a formal position on it. Off the record they were supportive though, and saw that it could be viewed as a single act of worship.

There is a survey worth completing if you don’t mind spending eight minutes on it (when you have read to the end of this), on behalf of the Church of England. It is about the impact on communities of not having access to churches, but as you complete it you will see how it doesn’t really recognise bellringing. We would like the answers from bellringers to emphasise our role. It is in our interests to be seen as part of the church and contributing to its success. https://churchesandcovid.org/survey

One of the rewards of occasional visits to ring at Worcester Cathedral is being able to stock up on the very excellent locally produced marmalade. If you are reading the web version of this you have a day left to submit your marmalade into the ‘Campanologist’s Marmalade (for bellringers)’ category of the Dalemain Awards, the Blue Ribband event in the artisan marmalade producers’ calendar. If you are reading the RW edition, there’s always next year. Don’t worry – I will bring you the results in due course to save you constantly checking the website.

50 or so “Survival & Recovery Champions” joined a Zoom call last Saturday for an introduction to the jointly produced CC/ART Survival & Recovery Toolbox, an extensive set of resources to help individuals, towers, branches, even associations continue to keep ringers motivated and bands together, while looking forward to how we get ringing going again. Hayley Young from Truro DG gave a great talk on the current efforts of her Guild, I gave my view on why I think this is important and why we set up the team, and Lesley Belcher introduced the Toolbox itself. All nicely compered by Annie Hall. Lots of great feedback, lots of great ideas, lots of energy.

Some associations are putting in a phenomenal effort to keep their members motivated and skilled. I have previously mentioned the NAG’s ‘GatheRing’ and this week it’s the turn of the G&B Winter School to get a much deserved mention. Orchestrated by Steve Coleman, the Winter School followed the pattern of their Summer School in having 21 training seminars over seven days with multiple tutors and a wide range of topics. Over 1000 attendees from across the G&B and Salisbury Guild. A terrific feat of organisation.

You have got to the end. The answer is less than a couple of millimetres.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Zone articles

New introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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

President’s Blog #26

I am currently working with a Dutch colleague whose family lives in Perth, Western Australia. Imagine our mutual surprise when he joined a Teams call from his local bar and it turned out he was in the Lucky Shag, the bar next to the Swan Tower and its ring of 16 bells. Explaining why I had, on more than one occasion, flown halfway round the world to visit that building and that pub was difficult – I may have spent equal time in both – but we soon found common ground dishing Victoria Bitter. On my last visit too long ago, the tower was a relatively isolated and dramatic feature of the Perth waterfront – now it is surrounded by tall buildings with rather less impact. Still pretty cool though.

The Cast of 1000 initiative, which in its virtual phase comprises focused Ringing Room practices for those wanting to learn and develop Surprise Major ringing, has now had 25 practices and its 100th participant. So far, all the practices have had the right people at them at the right time and in the right place knowing the right methods, thanks to the efforts of Stephanie Warboys and an absolute beast of a spreadsheet. We are starting to get people just asking to join the initiative either as helper or beneficiary, and we seem to have enough willing helpers to meet demand. More details can be found here.

Last Saturday I went to two Cast practices, rang a ‘Simons’ handbell quarter peal in between, spent two hours practising for said handbell quarter in the morning (I am the weakest link), ran the Brumdingers RR session, and met up with Vancouver ringers in the evening. It felt like a Saturday from before the pandemic with no time for proper meals or seeing my family. A couple of other people were fitting in Cast of 1000 practices amongst other practices and ringing events. And the quarter was Simon Rudd’s 200th quarter on Ringing Room. Yes, take a moment to let that sink in. Over a fifth of all quarters on Ringing Room have had Simon in.

Nearly a quarter of all the quarter peals on Ringing Room have been in the last month. What do we infer from that? More bands are using it (5,000 accounts have accessed in the last 30 days), more ringers have progressed to the level of expertise that enables them to ring quarters, more people have worked out how to use ethernet connections, or some bands have finally managed to score quarters they have been attempting for ages. It could also be that the server upgrades that have been implemented in the last month have had such a positive impact that computer problems are less of a success factor. Soon you won’t be able to blame t’interweb – it may just be you.

Ding also continues to prosper and add users and bands. The key difference with Ding is that it set out to be much more of a simulation of ropesight – the key press starts the rope moving rather than giving the immediate sound. This makes it much more of a challenge (more like ringing in that respect) but quarter peals are now being rung with the moving ropes. Ding also now has 16 bells, so if you project your screen onto your living room walls, as creator Giles Wood has done, you can replicate the look of amazement we get on visitors faces when they come into the ringing room at the Bull Ring. It’s a lot of ropes. Giles is also looking for people with Virtual Reality headsets to test an experimental version of Ding – if that’s you then please email gilesrwood@gmail.com

One is clutching at straws looking for the benefits to ringing of this pandemic, but one is the opportunity to ring with people you might not otherwise meet. Last Monday I was able to zoom up to a Beverley and District practice, specifically as I wanted to meet and ring with Rebecca Legowski and Damien Garwood. They are both blind, with Damien having learned to ring online after being attracted to ringing by hearing his local tower. Discussion with them on Sunday was whether virtual ringing could provide an entry path for blind ringers, both into handbell ringing and tower bell ringing. They were also keen to establish a group for blind ringers, and also build a network of people with experience of teaching blind ringers. I can collect contact details to pass on.

Has anyone managed to persuade any lapsed ringers to come out and do some virtual ringing? Reactivating lapsed ringers needs to be part of a ringing recovery strategy as they don’t take as long to teach (obvs) and there are lots of them – at least as many as there are active ringers. Depending on what caused them to lapse, some virtual ringing to break the boredom of lockdown might be attractive. I have one target who I am going to invite to a Cast of 1000 practice. Has anyone else activated a lapsed ringer in lockdown? LMK [Stop press – I have found one, courtesy of my sister in Skipton!]

When I saw that the Truro DG was preparing for a G7 conference in Cornwall I immediately thought it was a mega Grandsire Triples workshop, with much needed guidance on exactly where to make those pesky calls. However, it turns out that the crowds descending on Carbis Bay in June are not going ringing, but just attending a conference of the G7 leaders. The Truro DG’s PRO Jane McCutchan is working hard and successfully to promote the sounds of Cornish bells being rung to celebrate the arrival of global visitors.

Finally, eBells can seriously upgrade your online ringing experience and are selling like hot cakes. They’re not cheap (despite being not for profit – they’re expensive to make), however sponsorship from The Whiting Society is enabling ART to provide eBells to young ringers (under 25) for £25 a pair. Although the sponsorship is limited, if demand exceeds funds available, we will find the money to support those who want them. Expressions of interest to lesley.belcher@bellringing.org

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

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

Listening skills webinar recordings

The aim of the webinar is to help you to pick out your bell from the others and to count your place. We talk about ‘odd struckness’ and there are a series eight practical listening exercises to try. We also show you how you can practice honing your listening skills at home during the pandemic, whether this be on simulator software, CD’s and DVD’s, or virtual ringing with others using Ringing Room or other applications.

The recordings of the webinar can be viewed here:

Part 1 – Theory: Link to recording

Part 2 – Practical: Link to recording

Useful resources

Listen and strike: Tips and videos on the Learning the Ropes website

Abel website: Abel, Mabel and Mobel Ringing Simulators (abelsim.co.uk)

Abel – Eight ‘how to’ videos: Abel Ringing Simulator – YouTube

Virtual Belfry website: Virtual Belfry (belfryware.com)

Virtual Belfry – Seventeen ‘how to’ videos Virtual Belfry Ringing Simulator – YouTube

Central Council Publications: Listening CD’s

Whiting Society Publications: Come on Listen to it – book and DVD

Fun with bells podcast: 15 tips to improve your striking – Fun With Bells – a podcast

President’s Blog #25 (2)

I’ll start with two different levels of good news and bad news. The first bit of good news is that it is mid-January and we are still eating Christmas cake. I might actually finish reading the Christmas Ringing World before running out of Christmas cake. Tempering that joy is the fact that there still seems to be a bag of sprouts in the fridge. There are some good things to have come out of Bedfordshire, but Brussels Sprouts are not included.

More seriously the latest lockdown has seriously blunted our hopes of a quick recovery to ringing. I updated the Covid guidance on the CC website but felt it was so obvious what the guidance would be that it didn’t really need to be broadcast. Although many churches remain open there is pressure from churches themselves to close even if governments permit opening. Work on guidance doesn’t stop, and the good news of course is that vaccines raise the hope of some sort of return to ringing.

Young ringers’ practices, which had been enabled by guidance on running out of school children’s activities, didn’t manage to get started at all when Lockdown 3.0 set in, and Tier 4 was excluded from that guidance anyway which would have greatly restricted applicability. When we drop back into Tiers again we may be able to resurrect that in lower Tiers at least.

Christmas ringing was curtailed through no fault of our own, although hopefully all those who wanted to ring at Christmas managed to do a little bit. Many communities would have heard bells for the first time for many months.

How many places’ New Year’s Eve celebrations have bells as a focus? I was amazed to see a video from York Minster of crowds previously surrounding York Minster – the ringing of the bells at the Minster is a key part of that city’s celebrations, and suspending the ringing this year was a key part of York trying to stop people gathering. I remember in the short period when I was a member of the band at St Martin in the Fields how challenging it was to get to the tower on New Year’s Eve to ring out over Trafalgar Square, and the astonishing noise outside that drowned out the sound of the bells anyway!

Which leads me onto an idea that I want to get going this year which is an annual competition to find “Britain’s Favourite Bellringers” (name to be decided). The idea is that this would raise the profile and awareness of bells and bellringers in local communities, with the competition voted on by members of church congregations and the general public. What would motivate people to vote, and what would be a good prize for a winning band?

Did you watch Swap Shop or Tiswas? You need to be a certain age to understand that question! Our house watched Swap Shop because it was on BBC and we weren’t allowed to watch ITV… The basic principle was that deluded kids phoned in with offers of something they didn’t want (usually complete tat) and wanted to swap it for something else (usually more desirable), with mixed success. Adam Crocker has adopted “Swap Shop” to describe a new programme of finding a home for ActionXL controllers which are no longer needed by those who have splashed out on eBells. It’s not really a swap of course – in return for your ActionXL controllers you get thanks and the knowledge that you will be helping someone else’s virtual handbell ringing, which is reason enough to do it of course. If you have spare controllers please email motioncontrollers@hotmail.com – mine have already found a new home.

The St David’s Diocesan Guild featured in an excellent four page spread in the glossy West Wales Life&Style magazine. It is sometimes difficult to steer journalists in the right direction in pieces like this, but Guild Master Anne Bunker is quoted extensively, and clearly managed to get the best out of the reporter. The article also features some very good photography – I am guessing commissioned by the magazine. Journalists struggle to get good photographs of ringing, and we struggle for pictures for our own publicity material. We are shortly going to launch a photo competition along the lines of the YouTube comp that will enable us to create a photo library for ringers and journalists to use (with due permissions of course).

One of the highlights of my last couple of weeks was attending the Ruislip Ringing Room striking competition (fashionably late due to a diary malfunction). Sonia Field put it together and really showed what can be done in terms of maintaining and developing an inexperienced band. Eight ringers who nine months ago could hardly press a key in the right place, ringing courses of Doubles methods – each member had their own team drawn from the other members of the band. All creditable, all fun, and enthusiastic. That is just one example of how bands are keeping going with their ringing survival activities and even building skills.

The joint CC and ART Survival and Recovery group has been in touch with guild and association secretaries looking for ‘Recovery Champions’ who can help with the flow of new ideas and initiatives to keep people involved and motivated until we can return to our towers. Might you be the person your branch or district is looking for? Annie Hall (anniehall@covdg.co.uk) is already sending information out to the first responders.

And finally, a word for my print edition publisher. It’s an exciting time at the Ringing World. With neither song nor dance the announcement appeared of four additional Directors to the Ringing World who are no doubt looking forward to rolling up their sleeves and plotting the future direction of the business alongside the existing team. It is a challenge I understand they relish, and I look forward to joining the first enlarged board meeting next week. Now where is the Christmas issue I still haven’t finished …

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

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

CCCBR/ART Newsheet Survival and Recovery – January 2021

Here is the latest Newsheet from ART on Survival and Recovery.

ART also issued some ideas from Matt Lawrence entitled ‘Top Tips for Survival and Recovery‘. This is available in two formats to download below. The full article is available in the lastest edition of Tower Talk

Forthcoming Courses

The following courses will be held via Zoom.

Saturday 20th February 2021 – from 9.15am

Beginners session from 9.15, Intermediate/Advanced from 10.15.

Virtual Ringing Room Practice

Saturday 27th February 2021 – 10.15am

Learning Methods webinar (part 1) with Martin Daniels

Saturday 13th March 2021 – 10.15am

History of bells in Hampshire, with Phil Watts, Diocesan Bells Advisor

Saturday 27th March 2021 – 10.15am

Recruitment and Retention –  How to get more new ringers and how to retain them with Matt Lawrence.

PAST COURSES

Saturday 16th January 202110.15am

Listening skills webinar with Andy Ingram and Roger Booth

Saturday 23rd January 2021 – 10.15am

Virtual Ringing Room Practice

Saturday 30th January 2021 – 10.15amCANCELLED

Learning Methods webinar (part 1 of 2) with Martin Daniels

Saturday 6th February 2021 – 10.15am

Virtual Ringing Room Practice

Saturday 13th February 2021 – 10.15am

Calling simple touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles webinar

Virtual Ringing Room Practices

Aims

  • To give those who have not used Ringing Room before the opportunity to try Ringing Room.
  • Give those who attend the Education Committee webinars the opportunity to practise some of the things that have been covered in the webinars, whether this is improving their striking, learning a new method, or calling a bob for the first time.
  • Give those who are familiar with Ringing Room the opportunity of ringing with other experienced Ringing Room users, and perhaps try something more advanced.

Dates:

  • Saturday 23rd January 2021 – 10.15am
  • Saturday 6th February 2021 – 10.15am
  • Saturday 20th February 2021 – 10.15am

We may add more dates later. There will also be opportunities to find out more about other virtual practices being held in your local District.

Joining the Virtual practice

If you have not used Ringing Room before, take a look at this helpful introductory video: Link to introduction to Ringing Room video

If you are not a Ringing Room user, you will need to register beforehand as a user at http://www.ringingroom.co.uk, the video explains how to do this.

On the day, click on the following Zoom link: Link to W&P Webinars

If needed, the Zoom Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422

The Zoom link will be open from 10.00am for you to log in, and the practice will start promptly at 10.15am. We intend to finish by 11.45am

Breakout rooms

We will split people into breakout rooms for the practice sessions and will give you the tower numbers for the Ringing Rooms on the day.

To save time with allocating people to the breakout rooms, it will be helpful if you could complete this short questionnaire, so that we know what you would like to ring: Link to Breakout Rooms Questionnaire.

The morning will be split into two 40 minute sessions in the breakout rooms, with a ten or 15 minute ‘coffee break’ in between. This will be an opportunity for people to swap breakout rooms, if they wish to do so.

Listening Skills webinar

Saturday 16th January 2021 at 10.15am

With Andy Ingram and Roger Booth

Joining the webinar

There is no need to pre-register. To join this webinar all you need to do is click on the following Zoom link:

Link to W&P Webinars

If needed, the Zoom Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422

The Zoom link will be open from 10.00am for you to log in, and the presentation will start promptly at 10.15am. We intend to finish by 11.45am

We will be recording the webinar for publication on the Guild website afterwards. Therefore if you do not wish your name or face to appear in the Q&A sessions, please turn off your camera or change your Zoom name to something else e.g. John Smith

What will be covered?

The aim of the webinar is to help you to pick out your bell from the others and to count your place. We will talk about ‘odd struckness’ and there will be series eight practical listening exercises to try. We will also show you how you can practice honing your listening skills during the pandemic, whether this be on simulator software, CD’s and DVD’s, or virtual ringing with others using Ringing Room or other applications.

Follow up

Between now and Easter we will be holding a series of virtual ‘Ringing Room’ practices to help you practise your listening skills and striking. If you would like to find out more, click this link.

Ringing Room Practices

Christmas ringing and Tier 4 – England

Update from 21st December 2020

I write this with a heavy heart, and it is not made any easier knowing that most of you will be expecting it. The impact on ringing of the decisions of the government in England to introduce Tier 4 and to change Christmas bubble arrangements in other Tiers is as nothing compared with other impacts on people’s lives. Just when we thought we had turned the corner our lives need to be more disrupted.

The new rules for Tier 4 state that no non-essential mixing outside of households (other than in a support bubble) is allowed, with only necessary travel outside the house. Whilst public worship is still permitted, there is no mingling with anyone outside your household or support bubble, so ringing will not be allowed in Tier 4. As with the current Tier 3 guidance, tower bells could still be rung by members of the same household, single bells, or by the use of Ellacombe chimes. The Church’s and our view is that this is part of an act of worship.

We are not changing our guidance in other Tiers at this stage, although the increasing speed of transmission of this mutated virus may cause a review sooner rather than later. The Christmas easing and adoption of Tier 1 ringing guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be limited as far as possible – think very carefully about whether it is strictly necessary and consider which church services are most important. The guidance is not a boundary at which to push, and you or your band can decide not to ring for whatever reason. By following the basic principles of reducing travel out of the home and contact with other people as much as possible, we can protect ourselves and our communities. Face masks and social distancing only reduce the risk – they don’t remove it.

I read a lot of ringing social media comment at the weekend, and what was clear was that most ringers are perfectly capable of working out for themselves how national guidance translates to ringing. The most powerful contribution to the debate that I read came from a ringer who works in a hospital in the south west of England, and I hope he will forgive me for quoting him in full:

“Winter pressures within the NHS are tough at the best of times. The system is already creaking under the pressure, and the graphs strongly suggest hospitalisation and deaths are going to increase dramatically. I would STRONGLY URGE anybody thinking of stretching/breaking the rules/advice to get their fix of ringing to reconsider – now is not the time and all you are ultimately doing is risking lives and putting my colleagues and other NHS staff under extreme pressure and risk.”

The one saving grace is that it appears that the end is in sight. Whilst we have some difficult months ahead of us, the promise of a vaccine is now real, and it is highly probable that the course of spread of this pandemic will be fundamentally changed in the first half of 2021. In terms of opening up more ringing, having published guidance on children’s groups, our next effort is going to be looking at more open ringing settings including chancel crossings and ground floor rings, where our setting for ringing is similar to the more open settings enjoyed by singers. Equally though, the virus mutation may make things worse yet in some areas.

The President of the Central Council would usually finish a message written on 21 December by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, but that somehow doesn’t seem quite right. So instead I will say that I hope that whatever you do, and whoever you manage to be with, you can stay safe and remain positive.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Article from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/12/21/christmas-ringing-and-tier-4-england/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

Winchester District Newsletter December 2020

Ringing returns

For the last nine months, there has been very limited activity, and many ringers may not even have touched a bell-rope in this time. Even if they have, they will not have rung any methods.

However with the roll out of the vaccination programme, there is the real prospect that from late spring or early summer next year we will gradually be able to return to ringing  all the bells and holding practices in  our towers. But we still have this winter to get through.

Things have been happening behind the scenes to prepare for the recovery and we plan to issue regular District newsletters with news and interesting items to help keep members engaged and informed.

In this issue we include details of a programme of webinars which the Guld Education Committee will be launching in January.

During lockdown a number of District towers have been holding regular virtual pub sessions and quizzes.  using Zoom. Some have also been holding virtual practices using Ringing Room, one of these being the Mayflies group which Micki Nadal has written about on page 2

Please do send us articles for inclusion in the next issue, which will be published at the end of March. Articles should be sent to: comms@wbells.org

Christmas ringing relaxation

The Central Council of Church Bellringers have agreed special arrangements for ringing over the Christmas period with the House of Bishops Recovery Group. Essentially between 23 and 27 December no matter which tier, we can ring for 15 minutes, provided that the ringers are 1metre + socially distanced, and those not in the same bubble are wearing face masks. Further details on the Central Council Website

Have you subscribed?

Around 50% of Winchester District members have now subscribed to the Guild’s new membership and communications database. We are now able to send this newsletter to each of you direct instead of it being ‘cascaded’ via tower correspondents and posted on tower notice boards. This is not practical in the current pandemic.

However, as we are only reaching about half of the membership, do tell your friends about this newsletter and pass a copy on if they have not seen it.

If you have not yet subscribed and this newsletter has been forwarded on to you, please do subscribe to the database by visiting the following link: Subscribe to Guild Membership and Comms Database

Training Webinars

On Saturday 14th November, Edmund Wratten delivered a webinar on ’coursing order’ and how it can be used to help your ringing. There was an excellent turnout with 35 members Zooming in.

Following this success, a series of interesting webinars is planned for the period up to Easter. These will be held on

  • Sat 16th Jan
  • Sat 30th Jan
  • Sat 3th Feb
  • Sat 27th Feb
  • Sat 13th Mar
  • Sat 27th Mar

The final programme and joining details will be published in the next Guild Newsletter, to be issued at the beginning of January. Topics will include

Listening Skills:  Have you struggled to pick out your bell from the others? How do you know if it you or someone else that is wrong?

Ways of Learning Methods: This will cover the circle of work, the blue line and place bells, and how you can break this down into chunks of work that you can learn.

Calling simple touches: Starting from the perspective of someone who has never called a bob before, we will cover the basics up to the stage where you can call a 120 of Plain Bob or Grandsire Doubles.

History of bells and ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses: This webinar will look at some of the more interesting aspects of the bells in our towers.

Recruitment and Retention –  how to get more new ringers and how to retain them: This workshop developed by the Central Council’s Volunteer and Leadership workgroup will look at the problems facing us and how we might overcome them.

The webinar link will be open from 10.00am for people to logon and perhaps have a  chat. Each presentation will start promptly at 10.15am, followed by the opportunity for questions and answers.

Depending on the content, each webinar will last between 60 and 90 minutes

If you’ve  not already done so, complete our questionnaire and we will make sure you receive details of the upcoming webinars.

Link to questionnaire

Between Webinars

Each Saturday between the webinars we will hold Ringing Room practices using Zoom and breakout rooms, so that people can practice the topics that have been covered in the previous weeks, with an experienced band in a supportive environment.

Restoration at Twyford

The £91,000 scheme to carry out a major overhaul of the frame and fittings, including recasting of three of the bells is being supported by a grant of £7,500 from the Guild’s Bell Restoration Fund. The work will be carried out by White’s of Appleton.

However, Jennie Richardson reports that, because of Covid-19, fund-raising has ground more or less to a halt, so the start date for the works is not yet certain.

Currently, because of the pandemic, most Sundays just one bell is chimed, although the band did manage to ring three bells in memory of William Davies, who was on horseback and lost in fog on the local downs until he heard the bells ringing.

His will of 1754 left money to the ringers to ring for 30 minutes on 7 October each year.

Further details of how to donate are on the appeal website.

Mayflies – a Ringing Room Tower in action

Towards the end of May this year, when the Mayflies were emerging from the River Test in droves and buzzing round my head in the garden, I decided to take the plunge and set up a virtual tower in Ringing Room. 

I didn’t want to call it after a particular tower, as I realised virtual ringing would not be for everyone and I wanted to attract people from all over the place, which seemed to me one of Ringing Room’s advantages. 

The Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge on Facebook showed that evening sessions often experienced some time lag, so 5pm seemed a good time – before people’s supper and the evening online rush.  With the mayfly hatch in full swing, the name seemed a ‘no-brainer’.  

So, at the beginning of June and with the help of fellow ringer Derek Smith, we had a go, just the two of us and then let various ringing friends know that Mayflies would be open for business Monday to Saturday at 5pm.  We were immensely lucky that our brilliant District Ringing Master Edmund Wratten joined us to give us direction and advice from his base and our former Kings Somborne Captain Sue Spurling joined us from her new home in Sussex. 

With old ringing friends from Kings Somborne, Braishfield, Sparsholt, Winchester and Houghton and new ringing friends from London, Epsom and Staffordshire we can generally count on between 6 and 10 people each day, although if there are only 4 or 5 initially, we’ll ring Minimus methods. 

A little gossip tops and tails our practices, but on the whole ringing is what we are there for.  For our local band the advantages of Ringing Room are huge – we normally ring at six-bell towers, so the chance to practice and learn 8, 10 and 12 bell methods is fantastic.

We have really progressed with learning touches and for those prophets of doom, who say that in the ‘real’ ringing world  we will all be back to square one, I have this to say:  the brain will, I’m sure, retain a lot of what we are learning about ‘what to do instinctively at a bob or a single’ and although we may have to relearn straightforward bell handling and using rope sight (and we fully appreciate this may take some time), when we are settled into a plain course of Bob Doubles and a bob is called, we will remember what we are supposed to do. 

I don’t see Ringing Rooms just as a lockdown facility either – it will be just as useful for learning methods when things are back to normal, but with the added advantage of being able to practice in a real environment too. 

Just as lockdown changed our lives, I believe Ringing Room has changed ringing practices too and given those of us lower down on the learning curve the opportunity and the confidence to metaphorically punch above our weight and try things we would be light years from trying in a real tower. 

Micki Nadal

Stockbridge

Kings Somborne and Mayflies Towers

Ropley Church is being rebuilt

In June 2014, our beautiful church was destroyed by fire. Two of the bells were cracked, one beyond repair and will need to be recast. Now at last, the rebuilding of the church is well under way, with the new roof installed and new tower built!

The aftermath of the fire
Progress Rebuilding

The rebuilt St. Peter’s will provide a wonderful venue for services as well as a place for the Village to gather. The space created will complement other village facilities and will be widely used by the village school, social clubs, concerts and meetings seven days a week, not only an hour on Sundays.

Artists impression of the new interior

St. Peter’s was insured by Ecclesiastical Insurance for £2,854,962. Thus far a substantial sum in addition to this has been successfully raised. The current shortfall for Phase 1, to achieve a useable building was £201,500 (October 2019). Phase 2 fundraising for stained glass windows, bells, clock, furniture etc will follow.

Work undertaken so far includes the installation of the base of the new bell-frame by Matthew Higby & Co., and an order has been placed to recast one bell and weld and heat treat the other five bells.

Because of the damage done by the fire, the bells will be hung within an independent steel structure within the walls, and the ringing room will move to the ground floor level.

The bells will be the largest hung in a free standing tower, but we are assured that they will handle well!

Carol Ward (nee Herring) RIP

I have, I am afraid, sorrowful news to impart.

Carol served many years as the tower correspondent for the Candover Valley Ringers, and hers was a welcome presence at District meetings – including last December’s carol service at Northington, at which she – with the rest of the CVR – was a most gracious host.

Carol was also a doughty campaigner in the cause of combatting the cancer which eventually took her.
I shall miss Carol very much indeed, as I am sure many in the District will.

Bruce Purvis

News from around the towers

Hursley: The band have been meeting for a Zoom call and quiz on Tuesday evenings as well as  other chats, ringing room sessions and quarter peal attempts on other evenings. As tiering allows we have been exploring our Minimus range on 1, 4, 6, 8 of the 12 and that we have been using the 14 on Ringing Room to practice our handbell carols. The band are also holding a virtual Christmas dinner on 18th December. Peter Hill.

Lockerley: Have been meeting on Zoom on Thursday evenings for a chat followed by some virtual ringing and also on Sunday mornings. During the summer months the band were also able to meet socially distanced outdoors.  Gary Davies.

Old and New Alresford: Have been meeting fortnightly on Friday evenings for virtual pub and quiz sessions on Zoom. We have installed extract fans in both towers to improve the ventilation which has enabled us to ring some of the bells on Sunday mornings and for a wedding, before we entered  Tier 2.

Romsey Abbey: The bells are sounded on Sundays and for other special occasions by the Ellacombe apparatus, so most of the band have not rung a bell for nine months. It was fortunate we decided not to remove the Ellacombe apparatus when the bells were rehung in 2007!

Sherfield English: Various numbers of bells have been chimed for services by single households in the band. We have run our regular Thursday training sessions with the Romsey improvers using Ringing Room and Zoom. Nearly all are now able to ring inside to Plain Bob Triples and Cloister Triples without crib sheets! Using visual aids most can ring Stedman.

The new learning environment has encouraged counting places and listening to the ringing as well as upskilling internet knowledge. More ringers have run the practice and called touches. We have also learnt about and used place notation and coursing order, sparked by Edmund’s webinar. Ringing Room allows us to go past Sherfield 8 bell restrictions – if we have lots of ringers we open up a second tower so everyone rings more. We also have completed plain hunt Maximus (16 in here we come!).

We have just realised that we should achieve ringing all the methods set out in Martin’s 2020 wish list without attending the tower!  Martin Daniels.

Sparsholt: The band have been meeting every Monday since first lockdown in March. At first it was a weekly quiz evening with attempts at Ringing Room on Tuesday evenings. We also met socially outdoors in the warmer summer months, for a drink and also a picnic. Since September we have met virtually in the Ringing Room with the sessions led by Edmund Wratten. Anyone wishing to join us on Monday evenings at 7.15pm would be very welcome. Jenny Watson.

Winchester Cathedral:  The band have been meeting for a chat most weeks and when tiering permits have been ringing six bells for fifteen minutes before Sunday services. The large ringing room helps with social distancing. To keep the fellowship up some members have also been meeting up for walks and cycle rides. Steve Lamb.

W&P Diocesan Guild

Muster, Hants & Wilts.

Monday, 7 December 2020

1260 Bob Minor

1–2  Mary Edelsten (Winchester)

3–4  Ian Redway (New Alresford)

5–6  Gary Davies (Winterslow)(Cond)

First virtual quarter peal: 1-2

A new ring of eight for the District

When we retired to New Alresford three years ago, we had intended putting the Charmborough Ring in the loft at the back of our garage, when not in use.

However, we soon came to the conclusion that hosting it up and down  was not something that we wanted to do regularly.

Instead Matthew Higby has recently cast us a new ring of eight, with a tenor of about ¾ cwt in E which will be permanently hung in our garage in the spring

Although light, they will have galvanised steel wheels and handle like bells considerably heavier than they are.

The intention is that besides being available for quarters and peals, we will also run regular training sessions – a bit like Tulloch and Alderney. We also plan to work with local schools to help bring fresh blood into our local band.

As for the Charmborough Ring, they will remain available to help with recruitment post-pandemic. If you would like to hire them for an event next year, please visit the website: www.charmborough.org

Roger & Cathy Booth

Chairman’s message

Greetings to all members in what has been a very difficult and challenging year due to the pandemic.At the ADM last February I indicated that I would not be seeking re-election as chairman in February 2021.

Please feel free to contact me either by phone or email if you are interested in filling this post.It would be good if someone did come forward as I feel the district would benefit from a fresh face.

I am willing to continue as Executive Council Representative if re-elected.

As I write there is hopeful news of vaccines. I hope that next year we shall be, in time, to be able to meet and ring more normally.

May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2021. Stay well and safe.

John Croft

District Annual General Meeting – Saturday 13th Feb 2021

The District Annual General Meeting will take place on Saturday 13th February 2021 at 3pm by Zoom teleconference. To join, click on this link:

Join Zoom Meeting

Alternatively open Zoom and enter the following:

Meeting ID: 883 8896 9942

Passcode: 135246

This meeting will include the presentation of officers reports and the District Accounts for 2020.

At the meeting nominations will also open for all the officer posts in the District. John Croft has indicated that he does not wish to stand again for the post of Chair, and Bruce Purvis does not wish to stand again as Secretary. We also need to fill the vacant Newsletter Editor post, to help the Guild Comms team.

The District relies on volunteers such as John and Bruce to carry out all of its work. It’s not what the District does for you and your tower, it’s what you can do for the District, and there will be a lot to do to help ringing recover after the pandemic. Please do consider how you can help. The more people that share the load, the better.

Following a decision at the Guild AGM in September, no subscriptions will be collected next year, membership will last two years and a combined Annual Report will be published in 2022 for 2020 and 2021.

Winchester District

Officers
ChairmanJohn Croft
Secretary Bruce Purvis
Treasurer Anthony Smith
Joint Ringing Master
Jennifer Watson
Edmund Wratten
Web-Master Andrew Glover
Newsletter Editor Vacant
Executive Committee Rep John CroftJohn Croft
Independent ExaminerJohn Colliss


Under the Guild’s privacy policy you may ask to see a copy of the personal data we hold about you. You may also request that we correct any errors in your data, do not use it for a particular purpose or delete it entirely. You may withdraw that consent at any time and ask us to stop the processing.


Copy for the next issue of this newsletter should reach us by Sunday 14th March comms@wpbells.org

President’s Blog #25

I first saw a 3D barcode about 25 years ago when I worked in the nascent internet industry. I couldn’t really see the point of them, just like I couldn’t see the point of a start-up company called Shazam which we had the opportunity to invest in (big mistake – huge). Now 3D barcodes, or QR codes, are ubiquitous, and we are starting to see them on ringing chamber notice boards.

The Truro DG has come up with a great idea using QR codes to broadcast the sound of church bells in the community. A QR code is generated that is linked to an MP3 recording of the bells at a particular tower, and this QR code can then be put in the church porch, the local library or even the pub! A short video on the idea can be found here  The action starts about 15 seconds in, possibly after a Galaxy advert.

Thomas Ashwin-Siejkowski has had a letter printed in a new BBC book called “Letters from Lockdown.” Thomas talks about how much he misses bellringing, how many friends he has made from it, and how much he is looking forward to the future. In his Foreword, Evan Davis says “This book is a collection of some of these Chronicles, written in the midst of one of the most unexpected and intense moments in our history. Together they give us an unforgettable portrait of ordinary people caught in extraordinary times, with all the humour and tragedy and uncertainty we’ve been through.” Good job Thomas – a great future awaits you.

Ringing is going to come earlier for bands of young ringers. For some time, Mark Regan of the CC ‘Covid guidance team’ has been pursuing the possibility of using the ‘supervised children’s activities in out of school settings’ guidance to get groups of ringers aged under 18 to ringing again. This has now borne fruit and in the New Year youth groups will be able to ring across all tiers under controlled conditions. Detailed guidance will be published in the Ringing World on Friday.

A letter in The Telegraph last Friday from a lady called Ann Cottee asked for a ‘reasonable explanation’ for why her Tower Captain has said it was illegal for them to ring the bells at her church of Gislingham. By the power of t‘interweb I tracked her down to being the neighbour of the tower captain, and a churchwarden, which enabled me to send her a nice email explaining how her bellringers were dutifully following the guidance of the House of Bishops but would hope to be ringing again soon. “I am sorry to have caused fluttering in the dovecotes” she replied.

As usual there is good work going on in the background in the Workgroups. Take the work of the T&T Workgroup – their report to the Executive was over two pages of small print covering such detail as the work on compositions (lots of old collections being added in and now 40,000 compositions online with 30% input by workgroup members), v2 of the Framework which is coming soon, the Dove database development continuing apace with the team expanding to include expertise in carillons and mini-rings, and on top of that the Council teams are hoping to transfer onto Office365 and have decent email addresses by Christmas! No more simonhippo…

Sometimes Facebook polls capture the imagination, and none more so than one I posted asking whether we confess to being ringers on our CVs. 850 people answered the poll, with only about 10% saying they didn’t confess. There were great stories from ringers who had secured interviews and even jobs because of it, finding ringers on interview panels. Good to see we look after our own!

16th December is a date for the diary for ringers in England, as it is when the Tiers will be reviewed and hopefully some more towers will drop down into Tier 1. The Covid team has just released the plans for ringing over Christmas in England at least, provided nothing gets disastrously worse before the 16th. Bells will be ringing for Christmas.

The first practices under the ‘Cast of 1000’ initiative have started. Three Surprise Major practices last Saturday had 40 of our initial 70 volunteers ringing methods from the Core 7 plus some of the PPE extension methods such as the rather excellent Lancashire. It was a good start to this trial run, with six more practices before Christmas, in advance of rolling out more focused Surprise Major practices in the new year. It was good to welcome Dylan Thomas from New Zealand who rang some surprise major before going off to his Sunday service ringing commitments at Wellington, much to the envy of his fellow Ringing Roomers.

The deadline for the ART Awards is the end of December. These awards have become increasingly popular as a way of recognising achievements in ringing. They don’t just have to be of people involved in ART or the Learning the Ropes scheme, although there are awards specifically for that. The prizes are significant (£2800 in total) so well worth looking at so that you can nominate special achievement.

After six months of trusting the determination of the YouTube competition winners to experts, we are throwing caution to the wind and letting you decide on which of the winners should get the ‘People’s Choice’ award, for the best of the best. This is your chance to decide whose Christmas is going to have a £200 budget increase. This is more important than voting for HRVY or Bill – and its cheaper! Just go to https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-competition/  and cast your vote wisely or otherwise.

And finally, I learned to ring in the Stafford Archdeaconry Society, now the Lichfield & Walsall Archdeaconries Society of Change Ringers. Their entire committee has gone on my ‘beer tea or cake list’, not for the Society teaching me, though I will always be grateful for that, but for a very kind letter.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

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

Christmas Ringing – Advice from CCCBR released 8th December

Below is the latest guidance taken from the CCCBR website on ringing over the Christmas period for all tiers. Ultimatley the decision is with your incumbent, so please make sure you have their permission if you are proposing to ring.

We have agreed with the House of Bishops Covid recovery team that an exception should be made to the current ringing guidance across all Tiers in England for those bands that wish to ring for services over Christmas, in the period where the household restrictions are also being lifted. This will allow bells to be rung for key services including those on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and also for the 6pm Christmas Eve ringing which has been widely suggested.

This is on the assumption that the announcement on 16th December does not introduce some catastrophic restriction on the opening of churches (which seems unlikely). We are still consulting on whether this can be adopted in other countries in the British Isles which may be subject to other restrictions.

The current guidance for ringing in Tier 1 will be adopted for towers in all three Tiers just for Christmas, that being to ring up to six bells, with 1m+ separation and using facemasks. The recommendation is to ring for 15 minutes but to assess your tower’s characteristics. Ventilation is key to reducing the risk of aerosol transmission.

There is guidance here for you to assess the risk of your own ringing chamber and for members of your band to assess their own personal risk (see towards the bottom of the page for Guidance Notes). No doubt many ringers (especially those at special risk personally or in their family) will decide not to ring, just as many towers will lack sufficient ventilation to sufficiently mitigate risk even for this one-off occasion.

You may ask why it is suddenly ‘safe’ to ring at Christmas when it wasn’t before and it won’t be again afterwards. Risk of transmission is closely correlated with the amount of contact with others. With ringing having been restricted for so long, this limited ringing on one or two occasions at one of the most important times of the year for the Church does not represent a major absolute risk, particularly as some ringers will be in church anyway. It is also pragmatic given some ringers will want to ring anyway and will be under pressure from their incumbents. However, repeated ringing would increase the risk substantially, and we are not suggesting that this should now restart.

We may not be far away from ringing being less restricted. As one member of the Covid recovery team said “with the light at the end of the tunnel let’s not fall down a sink hole”.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Latest update from CCCBR on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Restrictions – Updated 26th February 2021

See the CCCBR website for more details.

Standing Guidance

The guidance for ringing in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland is considered separately here in line with different national rules and guidance from the respective Churches. With the latest level of lockdowns the guidance in each country is very similar.

England

Lockdown 3.0 has suspended the Tiers-based guidance and replaced it with a mandatory requirement to Stay at Home ‘unless you have a reasonable excuse.’ Our guidance is to adhere to that principle and not go out to ring. This is in line with our guidance during the first period of lockdown when the medical situation was not as bad as it is now.

One difference between the first lockdown and now is that attending a Place of Worship is specifically allowed by law as a ‘reasonable excuse’ provided it is to worship alone or as a household group (the Church of England’s guidance can be found here). The ringing of a single bell or Ellacombe chime (or bells in the case of a ringing household) as part of an act of worship is not prohibited, and if you think it is important enough for a bell or bells to be heard in your community, and you can do it without putting yourselves or others at risk, then that is your decision to make.

Scotland

Scotland has gone a step further than England and has closed Places of Worship until at least the end of the month. This therefore means that bells should not be rung.

Wales

Wales is in Alert Level 4. This is very similar to the lockdown in England with Places of Worship allowed to remain open but a general Stay at Home requirement. Ringing guidance is as for England.

Ireland

Both jurisdictions are on the severest lockdown level, thus precluding ringing.

Updated 26th February

On Monday 22 February, the UK Government published a roadmap for exiting lockdown over the coming months, detailing how and when restrictions will be eased if everything goes to plan. It is a welcome and cautious framework for a return to normality. The roadmap provides us with an opportunity for ringing to return over the coming months.

While there is still detail to be studied, and every chance of change, all indications are that ringing in England at least will come out of lockdown as follows:

Stage 1 – 29 March

Rule of six outdoors will benefit handbell ringing (up to 15 for young people)

Stage 2 – no earlier than 12 April

Young ringers groups possible following the ‘out of school settings’ guidance (expect social distancing restrictions)

Stage 3 – no earlier than 17 May

Rule of six indoors enables ringing subject to social distancing rules to be confirmed (could still be 2m)

Stage 4 – no earlier than 21 June

All legal limits removed
(it remains to be seen whether facemasks will still be suggested or mandated – that is not absolutely clear yet)

During any of these stages, ringers may still be cautious as not all ringers will be vaccinated, particularly young people. There is still risk of transmission and infection for us to be aware of; vaccination is not a passport. An article will be published in next week’s Ringing World with updated analysis of transmission in ringing chambers and the benefits of ventilation. This will just be for guidance though to be interpreted in accordance with local circumstances – the law will be the primary driver for what ringing is possible.

Yesterday’s announcement applies to England only, and so we continue to work closely with our contacts in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to understand the situation here over the coming weeks. Scotland for instance has rule of six outdoors from 5 April and churches reopening for limited numbers from that date also. Then from 26 April at the earliest Scotland intends to go back to a “tiers” system of local restrictions.

This is the clearest we can be at the moment based on the information available, and after discussion with the Church of England Recovery Group this afternoon. It is a roadmap, with more detail to be considered as we move forward. We appreciate ringers are all now starting to plan ringing events from late June onwards, and being asked whether bells will be available for weddings, etc. The main word of caution is that the Government is at pains to stress that these dates are the earliest possible, so commitments made for shortly after those deadlines should be made with that in mind.

It does now feel like the end of an incredibly difficult year for ringing is in sight. Thank you for your ongoing trust and support.

Updated 19th February

There is no change to any guidance this week, however next week’s round of government updates on a road map may give more indication of when some ringing can resume.

Updated 8th January

Guidance has been updated to remove all guidance that was based on Tiers and replace that with simple interpretation of lockdown conditions.

Updated 4th January

England and Scotland have entered lockdown again. In England, Places of Worship remain open but in Scotland they will be closed from Friday 8th.

The exact guidance for ringing will be published before the end of the week.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said the following this evening:

“The Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England at this time and we will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible. The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.

“However, some may feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only digital services for the time-being. Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home.

I would urge everyone in our churches to pray for those on the front line in our public services – the NHS and those working in social care, for schools and many others on whom we depend; and for parents and carers of children at this anxious and stressful time.

“There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.”

Updated 27th December

The guidance for ringing for children’s groups has been updated in the light of the introduction of the new Tier 4.

Unfortunately the Government guidance that allows the running of activities for children in out-of-school settings specifically excludes Tier 4, so young ringers groups can only operate in Tiers 1-3.

Updated 21st December

Christmas guidance for England has changed following the Government’s scaling back of relaxations.

Tier 4 guidance added as in the table above.

The adoption of Tier 1 guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be for the most important services over Christmas only, at your discretion and based on local circumstances.

Updated 16th December

Christmas guidance for England is unchanged from the announcement made on 8th December.

The current guidance for ringing in Tier 1 will be adopted for towers in all three Tiers just for the five-day Christmas period – 23rd to 27th. That is to ring up to six bells, with 1m+ separation and using facemasks. The recommendation is to ring for 15 minutes but to assess your tower’s characteristics. Ventilation is key to reducing the risk of aerosol transmission. Note that bellringing guidance no longer has 72 or even a 48 hour recommended gap between sessions, but to maintain good ventilation and hand hygiene.

Review the Guidance Notes on this page to assess the risk of your own ringing chamber and for members of your band to assess their own personal risk. No doubt many ringers (especially those at special risk personally or in their family) will decide not to ring, just as many towers will lack sufficient ventilation to sufficiently mitigate risk even for this one-off occasion.

The Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer are urging us to exercise caution and to “keep Christmas celebrations small, short and local to reduce these risks.” We can do that in our ringing of bells to celebrate Christmas – small, short and local.

Updated 14th December

The specific guidance on ringing for children’s groups has been added to the Guidance Notes. This covers groups of up to six children under 18 ringing together and can be done in all Tiers in England.

The guidance for Northern Ireland has been replaced with guidance for all of Ireland.

Guidance for Christmas services will be confirmed after the 16th December update on tiers in England.

Updated 7th December

There is no change to the guidance this week. Specific guidance on Northern Ireland has been added to the standing guidance by country.

Updated 30th November

New guidance has been published for ringing in various Tiers in England in advance of the end of the lockdown on 2nd December. Guidance has also been updated for the protection levels in Scotland, and for the situation in Wales where ringing is permitted subject to the Council’s guidance.

See the CCCBR website for more details.

Updated 20th November

There has been no change in guidance since the 8th November update.

Updated 8th November

Bellringers in England have been asked to support the Church of England’s call to prayer during this month of lockdown by ringing a single bell at 6pm each day. The request came directly from Lambeth Palace, and has been repeated by many individual Bishops.

The Recovery Group is of the opinion that a single bell ringing is an act of individual prayer, and as such complies with their own guidance and that of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. 

Updated 6th November

This update is specifically for England, and is responding to the lockdown that started on Thursday 5th November and lasts until 2nd December. 

The government in England is asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Churches are closed except for private prayer and broadcast worship. ‘Group bell ringing’ is specifically not permitted in a Place of Worship during this period. 

Detail can be found in this statement from MHCLG

However, the ringing of a single bell on Remembrance Sunday has been specifically agreed by the House of Bishops Recovery Group (with permission of the incumbent and churchwardens). The tolling of a single bell is a powerful symbol of remembrance understood by communities and will mean a great deal to many. Please be particularly aware of the risks associated with entering a tower and ringing on your own – make sure someone knows you are doing it and can watch for you. A muffle is not needed when tolling a single bell.

Updated 23rd October

Following further discussions with the Church of England Recovery Group, there is no longer a blanket restriction on ringing in Tiers 2 and 3 in England.

See this news release.

Updated 16th October

news item has been published on the CCCBR website today announcing the disappointing news that we believe ringing should be suspended in areas of England designated as being in Tiers 2 and Tier 3. Towers in Tier 1 are unaffected. This is our interpretation of the legislation which is shared by the Church of England Recovery Group.

Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).

The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:

Participation in gatherings indoors

No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”

The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:

Participation in gatherings indoors and in private dwellings

No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”

Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.

Updated 13th October

Following the announcement on Monday October 12 of a new three-tier risk alert system for COVID-19 in England, we are considering the implications for ringing and will publish our opinion by the end of Friday 16th.

Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).

The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:

Participation in gatherings indoors

No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”

The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:

Participation in gatherings indoors and in private dwellings

No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”

Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.

Updated 9th October

There is no change to the guidance this week but an article has been published here which explains the Central Council’s current roadmap for guidance, paving the way for more localised decision making. We are also undertaking a wholescale review of guidance documents.

From now on, guidance updates are going to be published on Mondays, which gives time to digest higher-level guidance that is often published on Fridays.

The next guidance update will therefore be Monday 19th October.

Updated 2nd October

The Frequently Asked Questions have been refreshed to remove those which are now common knowledge and add in more recent concerns such as the implications of ringing in areas of increased lockdown.

All restrictions imposed by Governments override guidance either from our Churches or the Central Council. The UK’s ‘Rule of Six’ (in its various forms) for instance is a legal restriction aimed at reducing social contact, rather than guidance.

If (as in the North East of England at the end of September and parts of Lancashire shortly thereafter) no indoor mixing of different households is allowed, then it appears that it would be illegal for anyone other than members of the same household to ring, even if church services are allowed. Places of worship do not appear to have been given a specific exemption, however they have remained open. The position is unclear, although the UK Government’s intention is clearly to reduce social contact in non-essential settings, citing work and education as the only exemptions.

Elsewhere, if extra restrictions (but still allowing six to meet indoors) have been imposed where you live, then the transmission of Coronavirus is high, and the level of risk greater. The CCCBR’s guidelines do aim to be “Covid-Secure”, but you need to make a local risk assessment (focussing especially on the size and ventilation of your tower and the characteristics of your ringers) to decide if it is appropriate to ring – and it may well not be. Remember that the final decision rests with the Incumbent.

Updated 25th September

There has been no change to guidance this week.

The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to the team. David is a recently retired GP who during a long career spent time dealing with epidemics in Africa, and most recently managing coronavirus patients. As well as taking a share of the workload, David will be specifically looking at the next phase of guidance.

David rings in Gloucestershire.

Updated 18th September

Dicussions are ongoing regarding the potential reduction of distance between ropes, although in view of the upsurge in Covid cases and the number of areas of the United Kingdom entering increasing states of lockdown there is extreme caution over reducing distancing for bellringing at the moment. 

The ‘rule of six’ is now in force in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption provided those in church stay in groups of six.  

Update on 11th September

The period of time between ringing sessions has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is on the assumption that all hand hygiene guidance is being followed. 


We do not yet have the green light to reduce distance between ropes below current guidance, but it is under consideration on the basis that this will enable more towers (and ringers) to ring. The CofE Recovery Group is very sympathetic to the case but are consulting with others included MHCLG in the light of the upsurge in cases. 


The ‘rule of six’ is being implemented in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with slight regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption but the extent of that is not yet clear and further details are awaited. Although this is unlikely to impact on tower bell ringing, if there is any conflict between guidance and the law, the law prevails. 

Update on 4th September

There has been no change to the guidance this week. Updated guidance to reduce distance between ropes to enable more towers to ring more bells has been submitted for approval. Note that ringing is still limited to 15 minutes but does not have to be for a service, provided it is with the permission of the incumbent. 

Guidance on the use of simulators is being written and will be available shortly.

Update on 14th August

Following last week’s update on wearing face coverings for ringing (which is mandatory in churches in England and Scotland) the individual guidance notes have been updated to include references to face coverings. A number of people have enquired whether ringers who claim exemption from wearing a face covering can ring without them. It is our view that face coverings reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and therefore protect our fellow ringers. Anyone who is unable to wear a face covering should not ring.    

Local lockdowns continue and may increase. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens.  

Guidance notes 2 and 4 have been amended slightly to clarify the 1.5m allowed separation for ropes which fall in a straight line, i.e. that the middle of three ropes which fall in a straight line should be 1.5m from the two adjacent ropes.

Update on 7th August

The only two things changed this week are that use of the word ‘facemask’ in this guidance has been replaced with the words ‘face coverings’ to bring this guidance in line with the Church of England’s guidance. The churches in Scotland also refer to face coverings rather than facemasks, while the Church in Wales does not appear to have stipulated the wearing of face coverings yet. Face coverings does not include visors.

We would like to also clarify that ringing does not specifically have to be for a service, but should still be with the permission of the incumbent. Ringers have been asked to ring for weddings, and on Sundays where there is no service but where the sound of bells is welcome to remind communities of the presence of the church. It is still only 15 minutes though, whatever the purpose of the ringing.

The wearing of face coverings is mandatory from 8th August in places of worship in England and Scotland (Wales doesn’t appear to be mandatory but advice welcome). Wearing face coverings does not reduce the minimum distances approved for ringing which remain as :

  • 2m spacing between ringers (which will generally mean alternate bells)
  • 1.5m spacing allowable if ropes fall in a straight line (ringers facing inwards not towards each other)
  • Adjacent bells can be rung by ringers from the same household

An increasing number of places may have lockdown restrictions brought back as happened first in Leicester, then in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and most recently in Preston. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens

Standing Guidance

The Church of England and the Church in Wales both allow bells being rung in their churches now that cathedral and church buildings are open to the public. It is on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance on these pages. Public Health England (PHE) has reviewed the Council’s guidance, suggesting various amendments which have been incorporated into the guidance given here. It has all been agreed with the Church of England Recovery Group, whose support for ringing is greatly appreciated. The Central Council will continue to pursue a similar situation for other jurisdictions in which there are bells.

We appreciate not all jurisdictions are the same, even within the United Kingdom. The Scottish Association has done a thorough review of the positon regarding ringing in towers in Scotland and has published its guidance here.

The restriction on ringing is difficult for bell ringers who are missing the activity that is so much part of our lives. The Church is however very sensitive to the safety of its volunteers and the relaxation of restrictions will not necessarily be as rapid as it is in certain other settings where other factors are under consideration. Failing to follow this guidance could cause this limited return to ringing to be reversed, and we are very grateful to all ringers who have embraced the return to ringing so positively.

By no means all churches are open for services. Opening is very much down to individual Dioceses and incumbents, taking into account many factors. However ringing does not have to be for a service provided the incumbent is happy to have the bells rung. Bells are a powerful reminder that the church is still there in the heart of our communities. Note that there is a specific requirement in the Church of England guidance document that ringers have read this guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.

The Church in Wales includes the ringing of bells in their guidance issued to parishes, which can be found here. Section 1 Paragraph 15 refers to ringing and states “bell ringing is permissible, but bell ringers should observe two-metre physical distancing and hygiene and cleaning regimes should be implemented. Careful consideration of how bell ringers will access the building suitably distanced from other attendees needs consideration, e.g. different entry points or staggered arrival times. Bell ringing arrangements should comply with guidance available from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers [ref to this site]”We have also included in these guidance notes for checking bell installations prior to ringing. Please see our checklist below for some key areas that may need addressing. The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that for jobs that cannot safely be done by one person, two or three should enter the bell tower to undertake them, following social distancing guidance if they are not from the same household.

This guidance is being constantly inline with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This website will be updated weekly on a Friday, whether or not there is a change in guidance. Any requests for clarification can be sent to president@cccbr.org.uk – it will get looked at as soon as possible. 

Guidance Notes

  1. What are we worried about? (PDF)
    Recommended background reading for all
  2. Making your tower as safe as possible (PDF)
    Suggested for Tower captains and steeplekeepers
  3. Checklist for recommencing ringing (PDF)
    Summary for steeplekeepers but see also detailed document from SMWG below
  1. Running safe ringing sessions (PDF)
    Guidance for Tower Captains and Ringing Masters
  2. Can I go ringing safely? (PDF)
    Considerations for individual ringers
  3. How bell ringers are assessing risk (PDF)
    To be given to incumbents to explain how we are making our ringing safe

Click here to download the complete set of guidance documents as a single PDF. These documents are intended to be succinct and easily readable. They do not contain all the detail that could be put in them but instead focus on the key issues. A more detailed group of documents has been produced by the Stewardship & Management Workgroup and can be downloaded here.

  1. Ringing risk assessment post Covid 9 July 2020
  2. Tower and bells risk assessment after non use 15 June 2020
  3. Tower Safety and Risk Assessment 15 June 2020
  4. Risk assessment template (based on HSE)

Additional Guidance

  • The UK Government guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic can be found via this link
  • The Church of England guidance on Opening Cathedral and Church Buildings can be found via this link

Frequently Asked Questions

We have accumulated all of the questions we have been asked by ringers concerning the guidance, such as why the guidance is still 2m rather than 1m, and whether members of family groups can ring on adjacent bells. We will update these FAQs from time to time and this version is all questions up to 3rd July.

Additional Information

A detailed analysis from Dr Philip Barnes and Dr Andrew Kelso is available to download.

This document seeks to provide information and advice for ringers and those responsible for bell towers regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and what issues ringers and church authorities should consider in responding to changes in Government guidance as we start to ease the current lockdown. It is focused on the situation in the Church of England, which is responsible for the vast majority of churches with bells hung for ringing. While the specific advice from leaders of other churches and in other countries may vary, the basic issues for ringers and ringing are the same wherever we ring.

Ringing and COVID-19: What are the risks and what might we do about them?

Useful Links

The latest guidance from the Church of England is available on their website.

The latest guidance from the Church in Wales is available on their website.

The latest guidance from the Scottish Episcopal Church is available on their website.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

President’s Blog #23

If, like in our house, you play the game involving spotting Minis and shouting “Mini pinch Mini punch” while inflicting pain on your neighbour, you will be enjoying Susan Calman’s “Secret Scotland” series on Channel 5, which features the comedian touring Scotland in a nice red Cooper S (with black roof). The programme presents plenty of opportunities to inflict injury. Last week we finally got to the episode where she visited the Bell Tower in Inveraray and is shown the ropes (did I really say that?) by Ruth Marshall, Ringing Master of the Scottish Association. A great piece of PR by an A list celebrity – well done Ruth. I was also interested to hear Inveraray pronounced by the castle’s owner, the Duke of Argyll, during an earlier episode. His pronunciation rhymed with Demerara rather than Tipperary. (And just in case you were wondering, we allow Charlie to play the ‘different journey’ rule that enables you to claim the same Mini twice, so it does not pay to sit next to her on the sofa.)

We are coming to the end of our YouTube competitions, originally conceived as something to keep ringers interested during lockdown and beyond. The later rounds were designed expecting us to be back to normal and able to produce videos showcasing ringing by now, but the lack of live material is forcing filmmakers to be even more creative. There are a few days left to submit your film that “promotes ringing in the most positive way” – this might be something you have spotted in the past which would be worth revisiting. I cannot find one which was called “What’s up that tower?” or something like that. It was good though.

The pandemic has increased the interest in webinars and YouTube tutorials, with one of the latest being Mark Davies’s continuing Methodoku book promotion tour (available in all good RW bookshops). In the “Coming soon” category is a series of tutorials being produced by Richard Pullin on composing. He is covering different aspects of composing in six instalments, the first of which will be released very shortly. Worth looking out for based on my sneak preview. I even return to the silver screen myself in December in one of the St Martin’s Guild’s series.

The Council and ART are working together on a lot of survival and recovery strategies. We decided to create a ‘Covid hub’ where ringers can go and find Covid-related support and news, rather than searching on different websites. It is hosted on Bellboard (look for Virtual Hub on the menu). The hope is that all online ringing events will be posted there. This week’s featured video is a presentation delivered by Alan Regin for the St Martin’s Guild. Alan discusses his work as Steward of the Rolls of Honour, work undertaken to mark the centenary of the First World War, and the project to install a ring of eight bells in Ypres.

Alan Sparrow has launched a new Android app called Bell Finder, which does what it says on the tin, talking to the Dove database to deliver tower information on your phone. One of the intentions of making the Dove data available via an API was that it enables 3rd party apps to be written. Just need one for IoS now!

By the time you read this we will have come to the end of a series of 19 Zoom consultations on the merits or otherwise of some form of direct membership organisation for ringing. The first ten were with CC members, others with ringers of varying degrees of experience, and we have had four with ringers of school and university age. We have also had about 400 returns of an online survey sent to all the direct subscribers to the CC mailing list. It is now going to take quite a lot of thought to analyse all the views and see if there is actually a proposal that would have a meaningful impact and that has sufficient support to be deliverable. There are some nuggets in there to be sifted out.

The only thing that is certain is the lack of consensus! Looking at the results of the survey, the propensity to favour the status quo increases with age, with those over 70 twice as likely to want the future to stay as it is than those with most of their ringing lives ahead of them. The discussions with young ringers were perhaps the most interesting. Whilst not seeing any need to do away with the territorial associations which taught them, they see ringing as very fragmented, and wonder why all the different parts (RW, CC, ART, 12 bell contest, etc) are not unified. “Ringing’s a bit of a mess really.” Out of the mouths of babes…

Opportunity knocks! We are looking for a couple more people to join the Workgroups in leadership roles.  One particularly needs to do with branding and marketing as we consider how ringing is presented to the outside world, particularly when we come out of the pandemic and need to rebuild. We are prepared to pay for external advice and design, but this will all need coordinating and managing by someone who understands both marketing and ringing. If you are frustrated with how ringing is seen by the general public and have ideas about how to do it better, then we would like to hear from you.

Then we have a number of activities that are in the general area of recruitment, retention, supporting ringers etc. which sit under the very broadly based Volunteering & Leadership Workgroup. We have volunteers who will do things – but the work needs coordination or just more people with experience in pulling the strands together, interpreting the strategy and turning it into workable plans etc. Do you have room in your life for doing something additional that would be of wider benefit? Hours to suit…

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/11/25/21935/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

200 Club November draw

The November 2020 numbers for the W&P 200 Club were drawn by Robin Milford of Curdridge and Wendy Smart of Botley, and announced at the on-line Executive Committee meeting on Saturday 21st November 2020. The results were as follows:

 Draw Date20/11/2020  
 TDF contribution£37.00  
PrizePrize Accumulation£40.00Winning
Numbers
Winners
First50%£20.0010Tangley Bellringers
Second20%£8.0016Graham Nobbs
Third10%£4.0019Anne LeMarechal
Fourth10%£4.0035Piers Armstrong (2)
Fifth5%£2.0027Christine Hill
Sixth5%£2.0031Wendy Ling

I have delayed sending out prizes from previous draws this year because of the pandemic, and they are being sent out now. This year’s total contribution from the 200 Club to the Guild Training and Development Fund is £127.

The next draw will take place in March next year for the Guild Executive Committee meeting. Money received between now and the meeting will go into that draw. More members means more winnings and more money for the Training and Development Fund! Please send me your forms, which may be found on the Guild website under ‘200 Club‘.

Robin Milford

What’s happening after the pandemic?

Article below taken from CCCBR website.

At the start of the first lockdown we were still looking forward to ringing events in the summer. There were plans for a grand “Ringing Returns” festival to mark the end of the almost unprecedented few months off ringing. Three months without ringing would be painful but not seismic. We would get a bit rusty, but we could recover. 

It now looks clear that by the time ringing returns to ‘normal’ we will have missed at least a year. A year without ringing, a year without recruitment, a year without training, a year without the social intercourse that makes ringing what it is. Not only that, but we have months more in which to try and cope without the activity that some of us live for. 

We therefore face two challenges. Survival through a bleak winter with little in the way of ringing to keep us motivated, and then rebuilding at least some of what we had before. That is going to need a lot of effort from a lot of people, but we are not going to wait until next year to start. There are things that can be done now, particularly in terms of survival.

ART and the CCCBR are already working on ways in which we can help ringers and bands stay together and then recover. For instance, we are working together to produce a Survival and Recovery Toolbox from which ringers, bands and even ringing societies can pick the tools that will best help them keep going until ringing can resume and tailor them to local needs. The toolbox will give access to training, a variety of new (and old) ideas and the opportunity to learn from what others have done or are thinking of doing. 

Over the next few weeks, we’ll start to roll out tools, resources and ideas for replacing the routines, friendship and opportunities that we have lost because we’re not ringing. Let’s try and keep as many people as possible enjoying ringing this winter so that we can recover and rebuild when ringing returns to ‘normal’. Some of it will just be helping more people to find resources that already exist.

Questions about some sort of centralised recovery strategy have been popping up on social media, in email chat lists and have arrived by email. We want to assure you that a recovery strategy is being discussed and developed, with the Survival and Recovery Toolbox being just a start. The Council Executive and ART Management Committee are thinking about recovery strategies at a more fundamental level as well. If you have any ideas or would like to help in any aspect of this – building, delivery or engagement – then please get in contact with us. Working together is the best way of building a positive future for ringing.

President’s Blog #22

The ‘Cast of 1000’ was introduced in the Council’s Strategic Priorities document that was produced early in the year. The idea is to establish a roster of 1000 experienced ringers who are prepared to go to one additional practice a month provided it is reliably organised, well run, and for some folks’ specific benefit. It is an idea specifically aimed at middle and upper reaches of the ‘Red Zone’ where many aspiring ringers are getting stuck for opportunities. 1000 ringers could deliver 30 additional practices every Saturday and only have to go once a month each. It is an idea that has College Youth and Cumberland support in principle but which was put on the backburner when ringing stopped.

However, a version of it can now work now, especially as we have noticed that many more experienced ringers who could be very helpful are inactive and not getting involved in any ringing on Ringing Room. There is very little developmental Surprise Major ringing going on except ringers in isolation on simulators. So, two ideas – a personal project of starting some PPE-focused practices and getting the Cast of 1000 going – will coalesce with some trial PPE practices on Saturdays in December.

Accelerating this is just one idea of a joint CC and ART team looking at survival and recovery – how we not only look to rebuild ringing next year but also just how we help more ringers get through the winter. Everything is more difficult when it’s dark and cold (except growing mould and stalactites).

ART is launching its “50 Virtual Ringing Things” to supplement the very successful 50 Ringing Things (it is currently in final pre launch testing). ART is also going to start running workshops to help people run successful Ringing Room practices.

Is there a psychologist in the house, or someone with similar experience? The aforementioned Survival and Recovery team is quite keen to find someone who can help with developing some articles and other things that can help ringers cope in this continued period without ringing, and maybe managing the anxiety of returning to the end of a bellrope when it happens. Contact me or lesley.belcher@bellringing.org if you could help.

Our consultations on direct membership continue, with the first of our sessions with young ringers last week. And very interesting it was too. The young ringers expected that there would be an overall membership organisation but valued greatly the support of their local associations and the opportunities they provide. The lack of any overall coordination of major events was a puzzle, and Bellboard was favoured as the channel for ringing information and news, combined with a decent ringing app. We have two consultation events coming up where we would like to gauge the opinions of anyone who is just generally interested in ringing and doesn’t mind spending about an hour debating direct membership. 19th at 8pm and 24th at 8am (for morning people!) Email us – consultations@cccbr.org.uk

Ringing opportunities are of course few and far between everywhere, unless you live in a Covid free zone, but a few ringers were able to mark Remembrance Sunday with the ringing of a single bell, and in some cases Ellacombe chimes. Bells on Sunday on Radio 4 treated us to the haunting sound of half muffled Stedman Caters on the Minor 10 at Worcester Cathedral (credit to Phil Orme for his continued effort with Bells on Sunday).

Lewis Benfield, a young ringer from Leicestershire, had been hoping to visit St Martin’s Birmingham to ring on 16 for the first time on his 16th birthday. When that plan was not possible, the Conductor of the St Martin’s band, Stephanie Warboys, arranged a special performance on a bespoke 16 bell tower in Ringing Room, with Lewis successfully navigating 3-4 through a couple of leads of Littleport 16 (now the relevance of the top picture becomes clear).

I was delighted with how a feature on bell ringing turned out in the children’s newspaper ‘The Week Junior’. Every issue features a different activity to try, and the young Brumdingers, and Max in particular, did an ace job of selling their hobby to their peers. Interestingly the journalist used a picture of Italian bellringing as the main feature shot when we weren’t able to deliver bellringers and bells in the same frame. It did not detract from the piece though.

Bruce and Eileen Butler are still deliberating on the October YouTube competition. Although there were only 12 entries, given they were training videos they are quite long, and the Philadelphian jury is taking its responsibilities seriously. If you have not seen the Playlist you can find it here. We are into the last month of the series now (unless we think of some new categories? A Christmas special perhaps? Or Champion or Champions? You’re getting carried away…Ed) with November’s topic being the “Film that promotes ringing in the most positive way” – there is still time to give that some thought.

I think I have mentioned the Salisbury DG newsletter before, and had the good fortune of seeing the winter edition of ‘Face to Face’ this week. It really is a tour de force of newsletter writing, managing 36 sizzling lockdown pages. I particularly liked new CC Rep Vicki Prowse’s very positive report of the CC Annual Meeting, of the work of the Council and it’s workgroups. Vicki takes her place on the beer tea or cake list.

Most ringers will know that the management of The Ringing World is grappling with a difficult situation, not made any easier by it being played out on social media. Spare a thought for them and the difficult job they do on our behalf. Also remember that although the Board is unpaid, the Ringing World does have employees who may read all that is said about it.

And finally, this will be the first time my blog has not been printed in The Ringing World. The Friday 13th issue (unlucky for blog writers) is a special one as you will soon see, and a contribution from me would have spoiled it. So I have been a bit of a rebel and pushed my word count out to 1013 and an emoji 😊.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/11/10/presidents-blog-22/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Winchester District Coursing order – training presentation from Sat 14th November 2020

Winchester District held an online training course using Zoom on Saturday 14th November. It was presented by Edmund Wratten, District Ringing Master, and attended by over 30 members.

The presentation that Edmund gave is available to download here.

NB: This presentation requires LibreOffice, available to download and use for free from https://www.libreoffice.org/

You will only be able to view the presentation using Impress in LibreOffice. Once you have installed LibreOffice click on the link above to download the presentation. It will not work in PowerPoint or online.


Macro setting required to run the presentation: In Impress (the LibreOffice equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint) you will need to set the Macro Security level to ‘Medium’ in the security settings, the menu structure may vary depending on which operating system you are using – Go to the ‘Tools‘ menu (or on some operating systems the ‘LibreOffice’ menu);  select ‘Options…‘ (or ‘Preferences…’) ;  expand the ‘LibreOffice‘ heading and select ‘Security‘ then click on the ‘Macro Security…‘ button;  On the ‘Security Level’ tab select ‘Medium‘.

Edmund Wratten

Ringing Master

Winchester District

Remembrance Sunday Ringing and Poppy Wreath at Memorial – St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers – 8th November 2020

St Peter’s Church Bell ringer John Leary, one of the young ringers, tolled the tenor bell on behalf of the band paying tribute to the fallen, before the Sunday Remembrance Day commemorations in Petersfield. John, photographed in the St Peter’s Church Bell Tower is standing by the photograph, on the right of the picture of the Rev Victor Wardle former assistant Priest at Petersfield and a bell ringer.  He died in an internment camp in Japan on 4th January 1945. 

A poppy wreath was taken to the Petersfield War Memorial on Sunday afternoon and placed there on behalf of the St Peter’s Church Bell ringers by Caroline M Welsh, bell ringer, with the following card inscription.

From St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers

When you go home

Tell them of us and say

For your  tomorrow we gave our today

In remembrance

Ypres visit by the Alton & Petersfield District

We wanted to share with the Guild some fond memories from last years Ypres visit by the Alton & Petersfield District.

We felt especially at this significant time of year sharing a very moving and memorable clip of Emma Hornsby, Sam Marriot and Roger Barber from A&P District laying a wreath on behalf of the Guild would be fitting in time for Armistice Day.

The short clip was filmed during the Last Post Ceremony with over 2000 attending the Saturday 28th September 8pm ceremony at the Menin Gate Ypres Belgium. The band played ‘The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins’ as we watched the wreath laying by groups, families and societies from as far as Australia and Canada. There weren’t many dry eyes.

Just over a year on, our world is a very different place. We hope, and pray that by this time next year we’ll all be in a much better place and sharing once again the delightful sounds of our bells deliver across communities.

Simon Poyser

Link to video

Lockdown in England and Remembrance Sunday

Latest advice from CCCBR

The Covid guidance has been updated in response to the lockdown in England that starts tomorrow for four weeks.

The government in England is asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Stopping ringing during this time is consistent with that request. Churches are closed except for private prayer and broadcast worship. We realise England’s senior faith leaders, including the Bishop of London who heads the C of E Recovery Group, are challenging the government’s decision to ban communal worship during this further lockdown period, but at the moment no exception has been made, and even if it was, our guidance wouldn’t change. This is a much stricter lockdown than Tier 3.

However, we support the tolling of a single bell on Remembrance Sunday, if it is with the permission of the incumbent and churchwardens. This has been specifically approved by the House of Bishops Recovery Group. The tolling of a single bell is a powerful symbol of remembrance understood by communities and will mean a great deal to many. Please be particularly aware of the risks associated with entering a tower and ringing on your own – make sure someone knows you are doing it and can watch out for you. A muffle is not needed when tolling a single bell.

President’s Blog #21

I remember the first letter I ever wrote to The Ringing World. I had spent part of my school holidays adding up the tenor weights of all the rings of bells in Dove and had come to the conclusion that the average tower was a 13 cwt eight. And yes I have to admit this was in the olden days before calculators. I think now that calculation can be done with a keystroke, but I was 13, bored and keen. So here’s a supplementary for 10 points. What are all those bells worth?

I only ask because what we pay to be members of our associations is one of the topics of discussion in the series of consultations we (the Council) are engaged in at the moment – see Friday’s Ringing World for more detail or read about it here. We get to use an astonishingly expensive instrument at very little cost because we provide a service to those who own them. Quite fortunate really.

The pandemic has shown how change ringing can be practised without bells via a number of online platforms. If you don’t know what Minecraft is then this paragraph will be lost on you and you may wish to skip ahead or google it and come back. Innovation in online ringing took another step forward, or sideways depending how you view it, with the first collaborative ringing performance in Minecraft. The pioneering band, comprising Jake Reid (creator), George Vant, Lewis Benfield, Tim King and Luca Greenslade, rang Grandsire Doubles and Plain Hunt Minor in a realm created in this virtual world, with communication on Discord (as used by all serious online peal bands). The performance can be viewed here.

If you are reading the Tuesday edition of this Blog then you have five days left to submit an entry for the October YouTube competition which is for the best online training video. There is lots of good material out there, including some well-curated collections, so this should make up for last month’s competition which didn’t quite work.

You might also want to think about the November comp now for which the subject is “Film that promotes ringing in the most positive way”. Again, that round was dreamt up when we thought we would be ringing again by now, so it may be difficult to produce something involving new ringing footage, but who knows? Who would have thought we would be ringing in Minecraft? Unlike previous months I don’t think there is a need for these videos to be short necessarily.

Staying online, the development of Dove continues to move forward. Last week’s developments included better presentation of towers with more than one ring of bells (slightly esoteric but I have learned something about Ovingham), and you can now see a translation of the nominal frequencies in terms of the given note of the scale plus or minus the number of cents away from that note by hovering over the nominals – again that scores highly on the esoteric scale although it got me looking at the stretch on the trebles at the Bull Ring.

And finally on the subject of all things online, and at the risk of losing even more readers, I have signed up for TikTok so I can keep up with the kids. The app asked me to choose my interests to get personalized [sic] recommendations. None of mine were on the list. So I just went for Sports and Talent. What are ‘Life Hacks’? I didn’t select that just in case. The first two videos it sent me did not fill me with confidence, and my understanding of the ‘Talent’ category was clearly wrong, so maybe TikTok is just not for me (which was also Charlie’s view).

These were a difficult couple of weeks for the Covid guidance team, with the release of the Tiers in England, followed by different Tiers in Wales and Scotland and supported by sub-optimally drafted legislation. Our friends in the House of Bishops Recovery Group were also frustrated – they had to deal with discussions such as whether paying bridesmaids enables them to be classed as ‘workers’ and hence be excluded from the list of 15 who can attend the wedding, and legal advice that said the vicar was not in the 15 despite it actually being their place of work. You start to feel for those involved in trying to draft loophole-free legislation.

Prior to a call with Julia Cater and Elva Ainsworth last weekend to review progress and strategy for the Women in Ringing project, I spent half an hour reading more the stories on the Women in Ringing website. As I have said before, if you don’t think gender is an issue in ringing, read some of these. Julia now has 24 female ringers and one male ringer engaged in the production of the research articles that are getting published in The Ringing World, and they are working a special focus edition coming out in mid November.

Those who look after young ringers’ groups or who interact with young ringers on Ringing Room should be interested in an ‘online ringing’ permission form developed by the St Martin’s Guild for safeguarding. It has recommendations around parental consent, having parents present, and other important considerations. It can be found here.

The young ringers group I run, the Brumdingers, keeps going like many others with occasional and highly valued bursts of tower bell ringing, Ringing Room, and outdoor handbells, now with head torches. This week fresh interest was injected by starting to learn tune ringing on handbells, beginning with Silent Night. “Why are we starting to ring carols in October?” “Because I think it’s going to take you two months to get it right…” Thanks to Don Bedford for sending me a copy of the excellent “Carol Ringing and More.” I joined music teachers everywhere in being amused (at first) by one of the youngsters referring to his bell as the “A hashtag” rather than the more traditional A sharp.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/10/27/presidents-blog-21/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers