All posts by WPBELLS Webmaster

Guild Database Project Team

A small project team was set up as part of the Guild Action Plan, reviewed at the 2019 AGM, to look again at creating a Guild Membership Database. Previous attempts had proved too costly, so a cheaper, simpler solution was required. There was also a requirement for the Guild to be GDPR compliant.

The project team members are:

  • Master – Pete Jordan
  • Vice-Master – Allan Yalden
  • Hon General Secretary – Adrian Nash
  • Safeguarding Officer – John Davey
  • Mike Winterbourne (as Immediate Past Master)
  • Andrew Glover (for the Guild Communications Team)
  • Roger and Cathy Booth (for IT support)

Objectives of the project

  1. To set up a mechanism to reach a greater proportion of the membership than existing social media (The Guild Facebook page has 299 subscribers, but a significant number live outside the Guild. Win-Port has 213 members). The Guild has almost 1,500 members.
  2. There will be a membership database hosted on Google forms/sheets covering all members. Once added to the membership database, members will receive an invite to join a separate communications database, hosted on Mailchimp.
  3. To avoid communications messages becoming ‘junk mail’, those on the communications database will opt in only to receive relevant correspondence, which will be filtered by a predetermined list of ‘interests’.
  4. Create a Communications database on Mailchimp allowing members to sign up to receive communications of interest to them and also allow them to unsubscribe to any areas not of interest.

GDPR regulations came into effect in May 2018 so we are long overdue obtaining the consent of all of our members to hold personal data such as names, addresses, email address and phone numbers published in the Guild Annual Report or on the Guild website, or held by Guild and District officers.

The first part was to obtain approval from the Guild Executive for the project, and to adopt a GDPR compliant Privacy Policy. This was approved in November 2019.

The second part was the introduction of the online Guild Membership Database consent form to replace a previous paper version. This is being rolled out.

Further stages will include the establishment of a communications database for members to opt into, and working with Districts to enhance direct communication with members and make the collection of subscriptions and the production of the Annual Report easier and more accurate.

The project team can be contacted via comms@wpbells.org

CCCBR Guidance on Returning to Service Ringing

The scene is set for a cautious return to ringing. It won’t be all the bells, it won’t be all the ringers, but it will be enough for ringing to be part of the resumption of church services and remind people which day is Sunday.

Returning to ringing is a subject dear to all our hearts. Simulators, Ringing Room and Zoom meetings are just not the same although we should applaud all those initiatives. On 12th June bellringing appeared in a list of activities which cannot take place in churches. That made us determined to find out who was advising government so that we could make our case. All the hard work being done on guidance and risk assessments is useless if the keys to the ringing room door have been taken away.

I am pleased to say we have now made a lot of progress. The people with the metaphorical keys to our ringing room doors are Mark Betson, convenor of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, and Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s Adviser for Medical Ethics, Health, and Social Care Policy. On Monday this week, Mark Regan, Phil Barnes and I had a Zoom call with them to position ringing in the church recovery plan. Note this is Church of England only initially. We intend to have similar discussions in Wales and Scotland and provide what support we can to those in other countries. Hopefully some of this guidance is useful anyway and can be adapted to local circumstances.

Our goal for the meeting was just to establish the Council as the trusted advisor to the CofE team and hence government on bell ringing. We had sent them our suite of six guidance notes, which have now been published on the Central Council website which they were very happy to approve.

Having not really considered bell ringing specifically before, they are 100% committed to making ringing part of the return of church activities. In the first instance though it must be just that. Our return will be about Sunday ringing as part of the church’s mission, not practice or self-indulgence, though they understood our longer-term desire and need to resume that as well. Mark Betson said it would be really good to get ringing going again, reminding everyone which day is Sunday, and letting the bells proclaim that the church is open. He wanted “a package of good news” to be launched together.

Brendan McCarthy was particularly cautious of any misinterpretation of the drop in the UK Government’s social distancing rule from 2m to 1m. He cited all the guidance coming to him that 2m was not sacrosanct, but that going from 2m to 1m represents a 10 fold increase in risk, and that he would remain cautious saying “Our first job is not to kill anyone.” Our return to ringing will therefore be cautious, socially distanced ringing, for a very limited period of 15 minutes, and only for services.

Mark and Brendan had meetings with Public Health England and UK Government that afternoon and this week. They promised to include ringing in the plans and coordinate with us. We advised that we would need a couple of weeks to get restarted, allowing for maintenance inspections, and they would clear such access with the Director of Cathedrals and Church Buildings. They were happy to link our Guidance Notes from the main Churchcare website where their primary Coronavirus guidance sits.

Ringing three or four bells for 15 minutes for a service is not what keeps most of us ringing. The novelty is going to wear off quite soon. It could be a long time before peals or even quarters are possible, and we won’t be able to do any teaching. However it is an essential part of the strategy for us getting ringing going again that the church values our contribution, and we have managed to get them to include us in their plans and see ringing as a positive that we want it to be. If we do not get bells ringing for Sunday service in this first phase of resumption then it will slow down later phases of opening up. It will reinforce the impression of us that some in the church have. 

We don’t know exactly which day this will be from yet, although some Dioceses have said they expect to have services after 4th July. We received specific confirmation that access to towers to check bell installations ready for ringing was approved, provided it is done safely by more than one person, socially distanced.

We therefore need to try and find ways of making this positive. Perhaps it is the opportunity to get ringing going in all those churches which rarely have their bells rung at all. It could be the start of something for those churches.

Finally I would like to thank all my colleagues on the Central Council Executive and Workgroups (SMWG in particular) who have worked very hard in the last couple of weeks (and Giles Blundell for a dose of inspiration).

The full guidance can be found here https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Published 25th June 2020

President’s Blog #12

Three months after most of us last rang tower bells there is a glimmer of hope. Bell ringing resumption, in a very limited way, is on the Church’s agenda alongside choirs and organs. Well done to Mark Regan for finding who it was in the Church of England who is advising government, and setting up a meeting with them yesterday morning. A separate report of this meeting will be published shortly, when the accompanying guidance notes have been checked by the Church (just in case they changed their mind today!)

Ringing for Grenfell highlighted how low down the pecking order of consultees ringers are when anything to do with ringing is considered. The Diocese of London announced that bells would ring for Grenfell on the same day that the Government published its guidance on opening churches confirmed that bellringing is still not a permitted activity. This is one of the reasons we are trying to raise the profile of ringing. We are firmly on the radar now and await developments.

The first of my three favourite ringing days of the year didn’t happen in fine style. I certainly benefitted from having at least 10 fewer pints. Matthew Tosh and his team’s wonderful “Not The Twelve Bell Live” helped compensate some of the 1,000 or so ringers who might otherwise have headed to Sheffield for the 12 Bell Final.

Virtual ringing continues to entertain and amuse. I laughed out loud at a comment in the Take-Hold Lounge when someone said they had an enquiry from someone who wanted to learn to ring and they were asked what timezone they were in! That must be the first time that has ever happened!

The custodian of the Lair of the Snow Tiger, Mark Davies (aka Embee Dee) put together a Zoom quarter peal of Stedman Triples with ringers in eight different countries. Is there no limit to how far boundaries can be pushed? “We choose to ring Stedman Triples in Ringing Room not because it is easy but because it is hard.”

Don Morrison has provided a US server for Graham John’s Handbell Stadium. How long before the rather disconcerting “Men in Black” avatars are replaced by people of your choice? Or maybe toy characters! I would so like to ring handbells with a band of muppets.

There is a question of whether any of these ringing tools that have emerged in lockdown will survive and become ongoing support for ringers. Richard Johnston has founded ‘The Dumbbell Society’ and is organising practices for people with dumbbells linked together via Abel and a dose of magic. They have already managed to ring Bob Doubles on distributed simulators, and this is potentially very interesting.

The Council’s Strategic Priorities have now been published on the website, having been serialised in The Ringing World. These were developed at the start of the year and are guiding Council Workgroup activities. They can be found here

Julia Cater’s working party looking at gender imbalance in ringing is well into the data gathering and research phase. Her team of seven will be publishing a website shortly and via that will be asking people with stories to tell to get in touch.

Bryn Reinstadler has kindly agreed to develop a new multi media publication on learning to call and conduct. She is going to focus particularly on making sure it doesn’t matter where in the circle you call from, to try and get us away from feeling that you have to ring a back bell to conduct.

I am delighted that we are continuing to get new people to work on the Council’s initiatives. The latest recruit is Paul Mounsey, who has agreed to represent the College Youths in the Council’s initiative that no ringer should meet a barrier to their own progression (Strategic Priority 2). The officers of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths have also agreed to support this in principle.

By the time you read this in The Ringing World a new leader of the Historical & Archive Workgroup will be in place, taking over the reins from Doug Hird. Historical & Archive covers a range of activities from the Library to the Carter Ringing Machine. Next month, workgroup member Gareth Davies will be doing a star turn on the Churches Conservation Trust webinar series – his lecture ‘The Ringing Isle’ is on 16th July.

Would your project benefit from £1,000? Ecclesiastical Insurance runs regular awards programmes under which they give £1,000 to whichever causes have received the most nominations. A bit like choosing your favourite charity at a supermarket checkout. Does anyone else always just put it in the tub with the least tokens to even it up? (When I first went to ringers’ teas I used to have pieces of the least popular cakes because I didn’t want anyone to think their cake was unpopular. Does anyone else do that?) The Central Council managed to win one in 2017 and the Peterborough DG has also benefited. It just needs some coordination. Rather than apply again, we thought it would be better to bring it to others’ attention and see if anyone can suggest a project we can all support.

David Smith and Tim Hine in the V&L group have recruited Nich Wilson to lead on Ringing Centre strategy co-ordinating with ART which has its network of ART Hubs. Nich emailed us out of the blue a couple of months ago and said he was interested in getting involved so it’s great to find him a project.

Ringing Around Devon, the quarterly newsletter of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, was circulated and had an astonishing 18 pages of tightly pack material. And that’s in a period of no ringing! Maybe we should circulate more lockdown newsletters and share more experiences. I remember a long time ago there was a competition for the best newsletter. Tony Kench submitted the College Youths Newsletter, which was produced by him with great pride, only for it to be discounted on the grounds of being “too professional”. A great injustice at the time!

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers – Lockdown Newsletter – June 2020

Ringing in Lockdown

This is the first of an occasional series of newsletters being sent out to inform members about what is happening with ringing during the easing of Lockdown and to help prepare for the resumption of regular ringing.

It is being sent to all tower correspondents and Guild and District Officers whose e-mail address is published in the Guild Annual Report, and those on our database. It is important that we reach as many members of our Guild as possible, so please do forward this e-mail on to the other members of your band.

Guild Membership Database

The Guild is developing an electronic membership database, so that we can comply with data protection regulations, as personal data such as members names is published in the Annual Report. We also wish to improve communications with our members, which is important, especially in the current circumstances. We now have an electronic sign up form. Please do give us your consent to hold your personal data by completing the following on-line form, and encourage members of your band to sign up as well.

Message from the Guild Master

The first couple of weeks after lockdown came to me as a bit of a shock, as I am sure it did to you. The impact of having to stay at home was somewhat restrictive but understandably tolerable. Being unable to ring, particularly on a Sunday was however a complete shock to the system having been part of the landscape of my life for the past 40 years. The realisation that I was not the only one impacted and the possible effects on everyone in the Guild hit me very soon after. What would you all do without your weekly ‘fix’ of ringing….

Now, 12 weeks or so into lockdown things seem a little brighter with the ringing community making great efforts to keep in touch with each other using social media, virtual tower pub nights and online practices. Talking to the district Chairs over the last couple of weeks there seems to be pockets of such activity in most parts of the Guild, but by no means everywhere. If you have not already done so and you feel able please reach out to your neighbouring towers to check that they are ok and to support them with our new virtual world if they need it.

With best wishes to you all.

Pete Jordan

Youth ringing

The Ringing World National Youth Competition was due to take place in York on 4th July.  There were due to be three teams from the Guild participating, the W&P Youths from the mainland, Vectis Youths from the Isle of Wight and Channel Island Pirates.  The youth bands are naturally disappointed that this fantastic event has had to be postponed, but hopefully these bands will be able to participate in next year’s event.

Youth ringing practices on the mainland will start again when possible.  Practices are generally on the first Sunday of the month, are open to all ringers aged 18 and under (the youngest regular attendee is now 6), and cater for all abilities from rounds up to Surprise Major / Stedman Caters.  Look out for details of practices on the Guild Facebook site and website, or contact Andy Ingram for more information.

When will ringing be able to resume?

Socially distanced handbell ringing is now permissible outdoors, and tower bell ringing has been able to resume in the Channel Islands. However on the mainland, whilst churches will be permitted to hold Sunday services again after 4th July, this limited to a maximum of 30 participants and is subject to ‘social distancing’ measures remaining in place. 

Even though it has been reduced to ‘one metre plus’, social distancing in belfries is extremely difficult, and there are a number of detailed considerations to be thought through as part of the risk assessment which parishes are required to undertake beforehand. Mitigation measures will be required Therefore, even when ringing resumes, it may need to be limited to short durations and with just a small group of people. Ringing as we knew it, and especially teaching new ringers, which requires close contact, may still not be possible for a significant period of time.

We will update you in a future newsletter once things change significantly. In the mean time The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is working with the CofE and detailed guidance, which is regularly updated, can be downloaded from: https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/

Virtual pub visits, quizzes and webinars
During lockdown, to keep in touch some bands, such as those at Basingstoke, Hursley, Eling and Alresford are holding virtual pub visits, quizzes and even practices. Zoom is the most popular way of doing this. All that is needed is a computer connected to the internet with a microphone, camera and loudspeakers.
The software can be downloaded for free by each of the users and although it’s not the same as meeting people in person, it is a really good way of keeping in touch with each other.
There is also a growing list of training webinars which have been delivered on Zoom.
Virtual Practices
In addition to Zoom, some ringers have taken this a stage further, using internet gaming technology. Several applications have been developed, the most popular being www.ringingroom.com. Users can make a virtual bell to sound by pressing the ‘J’ key on their keyboard. Local bands have then been practicing ringing rounds, call-changes and even methods together. It takes a little getting used to a first, but it is a really good way of helping newer ringers to count their places, and understand ringing theory, as well as good fun.
Other applications include Handbell Stadium and Discord where it is also possible to use motion sensors and dummy handbells to practice double handed handbell ringing.

Training webinars

The Guild Education Committee is putting on a webinnar to help those who have not yet used Zoom or Ringing room to find out more. The webinar will last between about 45 minutes and one hour. There is a choice of three dates/times:

  • Wednesday 1st July  – 7.30pm
  • Saturday 4th July – 10.00am
  • Sunday 5th July – 6.00pm

Places on each webinar need to be limited, so please use the booking form below and we will send you login details before your selected date/time.

Please also use the form to tell us what future webinars you would like us to put on. This could be theory of call changes, listening skills, how to learn a particular method, bob calling and conducting, steeple-keeping; introduction to handbell ringing, etc.

We would also like to hear from people who have specialist skills or spare time to help the Guild and its members. You may have some IT skills or communication skills that could help individual towers update their websites and prepare for the resumption of regular ringing, or you might be able to help with delivering on-line training webinars. There is much which could be done. Book your place here.

Lockdown resources

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Association of Ringing Teachers have put together a selection of links to ringing related videos, blogs, quizzes, podcasts and training webinars which will be of interest to members of your band. There’s a lot of material and it’s well worth a look! http://ringingteachers.org/resources/COVID19-ringing-support

Guild Annual General Meeting

The Guild AGM has been re-arranged for Saturday 26th September. Further details will be published in the next edition of this newsletter.

President’s Blog #11

So much has happened in the last two weeks that it is difficult to know where to start. Maybe with ringingroom appearing on BBC News – a great achievement led by CC PR Vicki Chapman, its creators Bryn and Leland, Anthony Matthews for being an eloquent ‘face to camera’ and the online participants. Mainstream media taking a genuine interest and helping to promote us.

Every now and again I post a question on Facebook and the email list which captures the imagination or the mood. Last Sunday it was a link to a list of quarter peal composers, which did not need studying for long to see that it was 99.9999% male. Ringing starts off with 50:50 male/female recruits, the Youth Contest looks about 50:50, university ringing is relatively balanced. But when you look at tower captains, conductors, composers, people asked to call a touch on a tower grab – the imbalance kicks in. If anyone doesn’t think that’s an issue, read some of the impassioned posts in that string, which hit 150 responses in a day (now 194, but wandering). There are even performances on ringingroom which have female ringers on the front bells! Julia Cater is leading a project to establish the scale of this subconscious bias and see what we can do about it. She is in the research phase and keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute.

Great ideas come to us from all quarters. Quilla Roth in Washington emailed me a spreadsheet of all the training webinars she had found, with a suggestion that we publish an index of them. With quick work from Web Editor Mark Elvers, and a ring around of the producers of all the pieces, we got the Index published within a week of Quilla’s email. There are so many good webinars now, and more being produced all the time. ART, Lewisham District, Cambridge District and the St Martin’s Guild are particularly active. One positive of lockdown at least. https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-index/

At the end of the Brumdingers practice each week we give a chocolate medal to whoever has made the greatest contribution to the practice that week. My virtual chocolate medal this week goes to Laura Goodin, for taking the initiative to organise the first of what may be many Plain Bob Doubles clinics on ringingroom. She recruited teachers, helpers and students via the Take-Hold Lounge, and from reading comments after they were great.

James Ramsbottom of the V&L Workgroup produced a guide to using ringingoom https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/06/07/ringing-room-a-users-guide/ All the online platforms are contributing to helping keep ringers together, and enabling some even to make progress.

Leaving most of this Blog until finishing a very interesting Zoom session with the Guild of Devonshire Ringers has left me facing a small hours finish. (I have promised Will copy by the time he wakes up tomorrow.) It was great to discuss the Strategic Priorities with them – fascinating to get their views for instance on the place of call changes in the overall mix. I am sure that we have to get a culture where ringing good rounds and call changes is a perfectly acceptable target. We are putting people off. One person on a Zoom I had with the South Walsham ringers last week said “if I could go back to my band post lockdown and say ‘all we need to do is ring call changes well’ they will love me forever.”

Call changes then had a major feature in last week’s Ringing World and the Accidental ringer blog covered the subject, following the discussion in virtual South Walsham. If you don’t follow the Accidental ringer it is always a good read and her blog on Strategic Priority 5 is here

https://dingdong887180022.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/strategic-priority-5-if-you-were-forced-to-choose/

Along with a trip to Bromyard last week that is the last of the Zoom bookings I have in my diary. I have learned a lot from people I have talked to who I might not otherwise have ever met, and appreciate the interest they have shown in the Council and its work.

More guild and associations have held their AGMs using Zoom. Furthering my research into how to run AGMs I joined the ODG for theirs and can report that it was a very professionally run show (I managed to do all the ironing as well but they didn’t know that!). The Council’s AGM is on course for September and Secretary Mary Bone is working very hard on assembling the paperwork. She will start getting nervous as I adopt my lastminute.com approach to all the things that seem to have my name next to them. End of the month really does mean that. Don’t panic Mary!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote 1000 words (Blog length) for a Newsletter if anyone else has space to fill? Would Newsletter Editors welcome a string of material from Workgroups or are you pretty self sufficient? It couldn’t be particularly timely but it might be possible to serve up some articles once a quarter or so for general use. Is there a Newsletter Editor mailing list or group?

Last week was ‘Volunteer Week’. (Who makes these up? Today is ‘World Oceans Day’ btw). I saw Exeter Cathedral’s bellringers featured in a Volunteer Week piece, Birmingham and Worcester Cathedrals made a point of mentioning the value of their bellringers in their Volunteers Week releases and I am sure others did too. It is sometimes difficult for the ringers of these ‘bigger’ towers to become part of the church community, but it pays dividends.

Monday 1st June turned into ‘National Handbell Day’, overshadowing World Reef Awareness Day in the national consciousness. Lockdown restrictions enabled non family handbell bands to assemble in the open air, armed with sun cream and hand sanitiser. My excursion to Great Barr park for some Cambridge Royal didn’t result in a post on Bellboard, but others did, and seven handbells peals were rung in the first week (the Page household becoming a hotbed of activity).

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

What has your tower or band been doing together since lockdown?

Many of us will have been missing our ringing since the lockdown began mid-March and still no idea when we can safely return to tower bell ringing.

So what have you all been up to since then?

Have you made use of video conferencing for video chats or used the online ringing platforms or perhaps even taken up new hobby? Or maybe you have just enjoyed the break!

We would love to know what you have been up to, so please let us know at wpbells@gmail.com and we will collate the replies. It would be really great to know what everyone has been doing and might encourage bands that have been fairly quiet to do something.

I know that Hursley have been meeting on Zoom 3 times a week! Peter Hill says “Sunday morning (11:00) is a general catch up – not much is happening tbh, and we sometimes have time for a short touch on Ringing Room. Tuesday has turned into quiz night – quite a jolly affair usually – even if Chris Hill seems to win most of the rounds. Friday night has a greater focus on ringing – touches of Cambridge Minor and Grandsire Triples have come round, but we have seen only modest improvement in our ringing.

Very impressive Hursley! – can any other towers beat that?

Bellringing during lockdown on the BBC!

Following an international collaboration, it is hoped that BBC TV will air a segment in their main news bulletins on Saturday 30th May 2020 on bellringing during lockdown, including interviews and a feature on virtual ringing using Ringing Room.

At the moment the segment is scheduled to air on the main evening news bulletins which are 5.30pm & 10pm on BBC 1 subject to being overtaken by events but the editors are really keen on it so fingers crossed.

CCCBR Stewardship & Management Workgroup When We Ring Again

When we ring again

Our bells have not been rung for many months so it is very important that ringers arrange to undertake appropriate maintenance checks and any necessary remedial work before we start to ring in every tower.

Even though we may be asked or wish to ring at the first opportunity, it is essential that we make sure that it is safe to do so. We do not wish to cause yet more problems for the NHS and emergency services!

Stay at home may no longer apply, but protect the NHS, save lives must still be a firm resolve!

In addition, in most areas people in the vicinity of the tower have become accustomed to the unusual quiet – the bells have not been rung, many church chiming clocks have stopped, and traffic, aircraft, building and industry noises have all reduced markedly. This is a good opportunity to alert neighbours through the local media.

What to do as we prepare to ring again

First, it must be remembered that the majority of bells are the property of the church, so the Tower Captain should confirm with the incumbent that they agree to ringing recommencing.

We strongly advise that all ringing societies ensure that the conditions in every tower are checked. This includes those towers where there are few or no ringers since for these towers, the correspondents may just be a key holder and they may well not be aware that checks should be undertaken or what to look for. We need to avoid the risk that they could let ringers into a tower many weeks or months after we start to ring again, without any checks being done.

Why are we advising that these checks are done, when no one will have been in the church or tower? Even though this should have been the case, no one will have been aware of what may have occurred – for example:

  1. The louvres and bird netting may have been dislodged so that birds have entered the tower and built up what can become very large piles of twigs! (see The Ringing World, issue 5631, March 2019)
  2. Somebody may have entered the tower for some reason, legitimate or otherwise, and left something or removed something such that the conditions in the tower are no longer safe.
  3. Something may have broken or become dislodged during the period since the tower was last visited and could now be in a dangerous state.
  4. If the bells were left mouth up, then something may have fallen into a bell, for example rainwater. (IMPORTANT – checks in the bell chamber with bells up will only be feasible in towers where it is safe to move around without any risk of injury while the bells are up.)

For the relatively few towers where bells are usually left mouth up all the time, this may be an ideal time to undertake fuller inspections and any maintenance, whilst the bells are still down and before being rung again.

The schedule is taken from the CCCBR Manual of Belfry Maintenance 2017 (available here https://cccbr.org.uk/product-category/maint-rest/) It is essential that the Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly checks are completed. Also the Annual checks if those have not been done since about September 2019. Once complete, add these checks to the tower maintenance records, as advised on Page 110 of the Manual. If you do not have people who have the necessary skill and expertise to complete the checks, then ask for assistance from your local ringing society (https://cccbr.org.uk/about/members/)

This is also the time to alert local residents that the bells will be ringing again. This can be on the church website, posters on the church notice board, church newsletters and even notes through letter boxes in the surrounding area. Take the opportunity to remind them of normal service and practice times, along with other extra ringing that may be proposed. Invite them to see the ringers in action – it may be the time to recruit some new recruits!

Alison Hodge
Stewardship & Management Workgroup Lead
smlead@cccbr.org.uk

President’s Blog #10

Who would have thought that seven hours of virtual Council meetings could be enjoyable? Such was the variety of discussion and number of people involved last Sunday that it was no hardship, and really quite a nice day in. The ‘to do’ list is rather more frightening but at least it is shared widely.

Four new faces joined our meetings for the first time. Dickon Love I mentioned last time, and gave a very interesting (and professional) presentation on the Dove development plans, while Colin Newman and Ian Roulstone (see blogs passim) took the opportunity to get input into the schools, youth groups and university work. Then Mark Regan contributed to Council work for the first time. I have asked Mark to establish an as yet unnamed Workgroup to develop strategic relationships with the Church, heritage and funding bodies. He brings lots of contacts with organisations such as the Church Building Council, NHLF, Arts Council, DACs, Cathedrals, etc, and is already helping on a number of initiatives.

One participant in that and many recent Zoom calls is no longer with us. My constant lap companion Not Sherman (so called because we already had a cat called Sherman and this wasn’t him) shuffled off this mortal coil. He had become a social media star in his own right and will be missed by all his fans.

This isn’t a great time to be in any bell related business although there was good news this week in that the CofE has allowed opening of churches to contractors, which should enable bell work to resume. And while on the subject of bell work, the deadline for nominations for the Westley Awards for bell maintenance is 31st May – this is particularly aiming to recognise the development of skills in belfry work (search on google if you didn’t see the link).

The Surrey AGM was much trailed on social media and congratulations for doing it. There is a recording on their website which is worth watching by any association contemplating such a meeting. My only comment was that CCCBR was spelt CCCRB on the slide!! But at least you have elected good CC Reps who I am sure will be making an active contribution.

I am writing this watching the RSCM’s Zoom discussion on how to keep church music alive. In many ways their problem is greater than ours. There were some high-quality bookcases behind the speakers – clearly curated specially for camera. Unlike my back ground which is a set of bookcases and cabinets filled with hippos. And that was on the same day that the Sunday Times published an article on the potential for large-scale permanent closure of churches.

The breadth of subject matter for ringing Zoom meetings and talks seems to be increasing as organisers run out of training material. The Worcester Cathedral ringers kindly invited me to their weekly Zoom practice last week to talk about the Central Council and their place in it (and yes the audience was the same size at the end as the beginning), and I have another couple of gigs booked in. If anyone else has got to the point of needing to find external speakers I am more than happy to give what is quite a personal view of the Council, and take feedback from the coal face.

Lots of these invitations to join people or to think about different things come as a result of people saying “I read your blog and…” That is a great motivator for continuing to write them, along with the challenge of introducing surprising words! Just wait for this week’s.

Top entertainment was the Leicester Guild’s Monday night Bristol Maximus extravaganza marking the 70th anniversary of the first peal thereof, which was rung by a local Leicester band. Garry Mason gave an excellent talk about the peal and its ringers, which was followed by a gallant attempt to demonstrate quite how difficult it is to ring Bristol Maximus on ringingroom.com with a hand-picked 11 plus one stand-in who happened to be spotted lurking in the churchyard. “Let’s just ring four leads!” he said.

Chris Mew has retired from his very long-standing role as the CC’s Safeguarding Officer. He may well have been in post from the time subject first came to prominence and was responsible for all the Council’s guidance papers, as well as maintaining close contact with the Church’s safeguarding hierarchy. Chris’ contribution to Council work is far greater than just this and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can thank him appropriately. Chris has handed over to Ann White and Dave Bassford, who will share the role.

The other day out cycling, Charlie asked me one of her random questions – “Dad, how is your mind organised?” Tricky. I know how I recall methods though. I see a complete half line as a picture in my head, and in spliced I can quickly recall those pictures. Eleanor says that where I seem to have a neatly indexed filing cabinet she has a lucky dip bag. I asked in the PPE Facebook group what other people see and pretty much established that all our minds work differently.

I have finally worked out why there are two CCCBR Facebook groups. One isn’t a Group it’s a Page! Duh.

Plans for the Birmingham University of Bell Ringing have taken a leap forward with the identification of a site we can have, and the Leader of the Council telling his planning team to ‘make it happen.’ There are a few hurdles left of course, and a lot of money to find, but the plan published in The Ringing World a few weeks ago could yet come to fruition.

I am looking forward to the first YouTube competition finishing this week. 24 entries in so far including two handbells touches. Bostin’!

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

CCCBR – 123rd Annual Meeting

The 123rd Annual meeting of the Central Council will be unlike any that has gone before.  As with all other large gatherings and meetings we are going to have to manage with an event which is either wholly or largely virtual. We are currently investigating the best virtual platform to use and the degree (if any) to which a physical presence might be appropriate.

Even the best virtual platform will impose some constraints, so we are also planning how best to conduct our formal business. A key element of our preparation will be to ensure that business is limited to what is essential and that any concerns or issues raised by Council Members are addressed in advance, as both debate and voting will be more difficult that in a normal setting.

One very important item on the Agenda is nominations for the post of Treasurer, because Andy Smith is standing down. Please consider volunteering if you have the necessary skills, or introduce this opportunity to someone you think might be interested.

You might be surprised to see a call for nominations for President when I was only elected in September last year. I have definitely got a few things left to do! This is however because I was elected to fill the vacancy when Christopher O’Mahony had to return to Australia. I would be happy to continue if nominated.

The AGM of The Ringing World will be part of the virtual meeting just as it would have been in Nottingham.

Meeting papers and other information can be found on the 2020 Annual Meeting page.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Inter Tower 6 and 8 bell striking competition

Following the postponement of the competitions in May this year due to Covid-19 issues we are proposing to hold the competitions on Saturday 5th September instead of the 10-bell Inter District competition. The venues are still to be confirmed but are still planned to be in the C&S District.

This is all reliant on the CC and C of E position at the time, however please put it in your diary as a date to work towards. I think we are all dubious as to whether we will be ringing by then so this is a stake in the ground for now. We may need to consider something different nearer the time.

Many Thanks

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

Striking competition convener.

CCCBR President’s Blog #9

I used to play golf on a course where the 15th hole was tantalising close to the club house. I usually wanted to stop at that point – I was tired, I was probably approaching 100 shots, and had resorted to using the lake balls in the bottom of my bag. Basically 18 holes was too long.

If the concept of peals being 5000 changes had never been instigated, what length of ringing would we set for our upper target of performance? I asked this question online last weekend and it got some fascinating responses. Quite a lot of people suggested something around the 3000 changes or two hour mark – long enough to get sustained good striking, but short of the fatigue zone.

It wasn’t an original question. Albert York-Bramble raised it in The Ringing World in 1955, the same year he founded his ground-breaking, and short-lived, “College of Campanology”. He advocated 3000, although the reasons at the time were based on needing to prevent the general public opposing excessive noise from church bell towers in the days before sound control.

No one could claim excessive noise from a church bell tower at the moment! Coming up to nine weeks without ringing ☹. The primary outlet for releasing our ringing urges, ringingroom.com, is surging in popularity (an urge surge?). It passed 1000 users a day last week, and its developers, Bryn and Leland are working hard. I was surprised to be name-checked in a fascinating podcast interview with Leland which can be found (along with others) here. If you listen to it you will learn why the Brumdingers’ motto is now #embracethechaos …

It was of course particularly disappointing not to be able to mark VE Day with bells. That was such a good opportunity to provide a soundtrack to national celebration. I hope you heard the Funwithbells Podcast that was recorded specially for VE Day – it has 30 ringers telling the story of bells in the war, and is extremely interesting. I was pleased to be able to read a letter the President of the Council wrote to The Ringing World, apologising to the public that after five years of no ringing the ringers should be forgiven for being a bit rusty!

There are more and more people making progress on handbells who would not have done so without lockdown. Young ringers Toby Hibbert and Kate Jennings rang a quarter of Bob Minor in ringingroom.com within a month of taking up virtual handbell ringing, and the Read family in Jersey enabled Hannah and William to ring their first in hand (real bells) for Jersey’s Liberation Day.

Back in the virtual world, one of the young ringers I am teaching handbell ringing to explained “ringing two is easier than ringing one because if there’s a problem with the internet both your bells are late by the same amount.” Not sure I quite followed that but it was positive thinking from a 10 year old!

Graham John posted a wonderful photograph of stacks of motion controllers being mailed out to budding online handbell ringers. Unfortunately this is not going to last long because the controllers that work best are discontinued – the manufacturer must be intrigued by this late sales blip!

Rebecca Banner and her son Dan made a bellringing simulator game in Roblox, the online gaming platform. Apparently they are working on something much more complicated aimed at teaching non ringers to ring! Sounds like an entry for the ART Awards if that one comes off.

Who wants to know about insurance? Of course you do! Once a year SMWG hosts a meeting with Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most churches in which we ring. This year’s call was via Zoom, robbing me of a trip to Gloucester. We are fortunate that Marcus Booth at Ecclesiastical is a ringer, and he has now been joined by another ringer, Becca Meyer, as a graduate trainee (great minutes Becca!)

The launch of the YouTube competition exceeded expectations. I was actually a bit nervous about it but with a small team comprising Neal Dodge, Simon Edwards and Ros Martin, and various levels of risk assessment and management, we got it launched. Entries are starting to come in for the first category – Best Striking on 6 bells.

Talking of YouTube videos, the Council’s Comms & Marketing team rushed out a short video to explain why bells are silent, in response to a suggestion on Facebook.  If you have a route to a local church, parish or village/town website please can you try and get this posted there?

Roger Booth has released the first four (maybe five by now) of his video tutorials on using Abel. I watched the first two and was amazed how little of Abel’s capabilities I actually use. The first one can be found here.

In the same week that the Council’s Guidance note on ringing and COVID-19 was published, lots of ringers watched a live streaming of the funeral of Andrew Stubbs, a well-known ringer who made an enormous contribution to ringing across multiple fields. The coronavirus took Andrew from us, and ringing will be the poorer for it.

I am really enthused that we are continuing to attract ringers with skills and talent to help with key initiatives. One of the two latest to step up to the plate (another next time) is Dickon Love, who becomes a Dove Steward, bringing his immense energy for ringing to the role. In the words of the Dove team he will “be leading the project to migrate Dove onto new technology and will be seeking opportunities to make the Dove data more widely used and appreciated.” When I asked my daughter Charlie why she thought the database of towers was called Dove, she said “is it because a Dove can fly over towers and see where they all are?”

Cripes, I have had to bump seven things onto Blog #10 as I have hit my word limit.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

SUMMARY OF CURRENT CHURCH GUIDANCE AND CC ADVICE ON REDUCING COVID RISK IN TOWERS

Ringing and chiming

  1. Ringers should not enter the church or tower for chiming, ringing or any other
    purpose under any circumstances unless they are the one “appointed person” for
    that church as defined by the guidance from their Diocesan Bishop.
  2. Not more than one bell should be rung under current church guidance and only by the “appointed person”.
  3. Care should be taken to ensure all clock hammers and any external chiming
    hammers are pulled off before either chiming or ringing.
  4. Always refer to both Church of England and local Diocesan guidance for more detail.

Hand hygiene
For those who are “appointed persons” and wish to chime or ring a single bell:

  1. Sanitizer should be applied to the hands and allowed to dry fully before and after ringing activities.
  2. No other substance than hand sanitizer should be applied to the hands before ringing, including spitting on or licking the hands

Maximum numbers of people in a ringing room

  1. No person other than the appointed person should enter the tower at any time and especially during chiming.

CC Executive
May 11th 2020

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.

Virtual VE Day 75th Anniversary Celebrations at St. Michael’s Basingstoke – 8th May 2020

Taken from https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/ve-day

To comply with the COVID-19 restrictions and the government’s advice on social distancing, this year’s VE Day 75 anniversary celebration will still take place from 8 to 10 May but with personal commemorations in people’s homes, rather than the previously arranged public events.

Even though we cannot mark this significant day as we had planned, it is so important to remember the sacrifice, courage and determination shown during World War Two by those who served in the Armed Forces, those who worked tirelessly in shops, factories, shipyards and farms, and by thanking those who kept the country safe – such as ARP wardens, police officers, doctors, nurses, firemen, local defence volunteers and others – on the Home Front.

The Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane will lead the VE Day 75 Anniversary commemorations to thank those who gave so much during World War Two on Friday 8 May.

Cllr Diane Taylor will be marking the VE Day 75 through a number of videos on the Mayoral and borough council social media channels, including Facebook @BasingstokeMayor and Twitter @BasingMayor, throughout the day.

‘Ringing Out for Peace’ – a previous recording of St Michael’s Church bells

Our silent church bells during Coronavirus

Latest update on the CCCBR website – 8th May 2020

We have received many requests to ring church bells in support of acknowledging key workers across the UK but given the need for social distancing and non essential travel, as well as churches being shut, this has not been possible.

The short clip below explains why.

Please fee free to share across your networks and if you have any further queries, please do get in touch.

Vicki Chapman
CCCBR PRO

CCCBR President’s Blog #8

Quizzes, coffee mornings, Zoom pub sessions, ringingroom practices – ringers are trying to retain at least some sense of normality. In the absence of practical ringing, more and more associations are running online training sessions, with topics around learning and construction of methods being particularly popular. My online production for the St Martin’s Guild this week is going to be called “Why do we need bobs?”  I have even cut my own hair specially (it’s not a bob).

Another blog, another new Workgroup. In Blog #7 I announced the formation of a group focusing on University ringing. Now it is the turn of schools and youth group development. The aim here is not just about recruiting young ringers, but about how we work with schools and youth organisations to embed bellringing in their own programmes so they become an ongoing source of recruits. The Workgroup members all either work in schools, have introduced ringing into schools, or are involved in association young ringers groups. I am very pleased that Colin Newman has agreed to lead, only six months after I started the recruitment process in the beer queue at last year’s College Youths dinner!

Another activity that is underway is the development of a couple of new residential courses. I have never been on one myself, but their popularity and demand is unquestioned. Tim Hine is working on these, and has made a particularly good start on the Lancashire course. Yorkshire is next. The intention is to go for the four-day residential style, and avoid clashing with established courses. The focus on the north of England is in response to the location of the current residential courses (Hereford, Bradfield, Essex), however it has been pointed out that Hereford is four hours from Cornwall and something in the south west would be welcome. We had better have three! (Imagine if we could learn to ring 60 on 3rds – I might go on that myself.) That’s not out of the question – it just needs people to help doing them as they are mammoth undertakings.

This Friday I will be launching a YouTube competition online and via The Ringing World. 80% of UK internet users accessed YouTube in 2019. One of the Brumdingers taught herself to ring down by looking on YouTube. Ringing content is however variable so part of the hope for this competition is to drive better content, or at least identify the best stuff. Between now and Christmas we will have a monthly competition to identify or submit the best YouTube clips of a particular genre, whether for striking, recruitment, training, or just plain extraordinary. Proper judges, symbolic prizes (“The prize is small, the honour great”)

I talked about ringingroom a fortnight ago but this week Handbell Stadium gets the spotlight. Handbell Stadium is brought to us by Graham John, a Jedi of the handbell world. Graham’s platform is aimed at handbell ringers with motion sensors and has already produced a quarter peal of Yorkshire Major that complies with all the requirements of the CCCBR Framework for Method Ringing. Graham is also organising handbell practices which could have the effect of really bringing on some people’s handbell ringing. My motion controllers have now arrived 😊so a larger audience will be able to witness my handbell shortcomings.

V&L’s Recruitment and Retention workshop that was run on the Sunday of the ART Conference is going to be made available for others to run. It is well worth having a look at, especially as recruitment and retention are going to be the order of the day when ringing returns. Details will be distributed soon.

Roger Booth has released the first four (maybe five by now) of his video tutorials on using Abel. I watched the first two and was amazed how little of Abel’s capabilities I actually use. The first one can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm22YvuVzNM

The group working on the mobile belfry meets weekly on Microsoft Teams. The aim is to have something much more transportable than the Charmborough Ring or Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry, but which will be capable of being erected in under an hour, and still give a good ringing experience. This is Mobile Belfry 2.0. Oh and it needs to cost nearer 40k than 50k. The favoured design has the belfry already erected but on its side on the trailer for transport, erected by way of a hydraulic ram that will push it to the vertical.

We have given up any thought of having a full Council Meeting in September. We had abandoned the Roadshow element a few weeks back but now we also know that the Council Meeting itself will need to be virtual. That will be a challenge, but if Jacob Rees-Mogg and the House of Commons can do it then I am sure we can. The Ringing World AGM will still be part of that.

Graham John continues to manage the official CCCBR Methods Library.
https://cccbr.github.io/methods-library/index.html?fbclid=IwAR0dbpl5VxmQo2UywFek6VZTe4LQe9Z0CF8CS37tYDC_wJpNVfFDcuF1g0s
In a sign of the times all the new methods reported this week were Minimus methods, just showing that ringers are making the most of limited opportunities! You will see on that site that it links to https://complib.org/ – if you have not discovered Complib, it is a constantly evolving resource that provides in depth method and composition information.

I am sure most of us are crossing things out of our diaries, or not even opening our diaries at all. Peals, tours, striking contests, outings, dinners – collectively thousands of hours of organisational effort is being laid waste. Spare a thought for hard working organisers of ringing and hope that when ringing returns they will retain the enthusiasm for organisation on which we all rely.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT – Guild AGM and 8-bell Inter-District Striking Competition – CHANGE OF DATE to Saturday 26th September

Fellow Ringers.

As I am sure you will appreciate the covid-19 lockdown and social distancing has had a considerable impact on the Guild Calendar. The Guild AGM planned for the 13th June is right on the end of the 12 week isolation period for the elderly and vulnerable and at this time I don’t think anyone can second guess what the situation will be at that time.

I have therefore taken the decision with the support of the Principle Officers, Minutes Secretary and the A&P District Chair and Ringing Master to postpone the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild AGM  and 8 bell Inter district striking competition until Saturday the 26th September. Further details about venues and timings will be announced nearer the day once confirmed but the intention is that these will still be in the Alton and Petersfield District.

We hope that by the end of September there will be less restrictions and it will be safe to hold the meeting, however as the safety of all Guild members is paramount there may be further review of this date in the future if necessary.

Please put this date in your diary and we look forward to seeing you in September.

With kind regards

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

CCCBR President’s Blog #7

I would be flattering myself if I thought anyone missed the arrival of my blog every other Saturday. One or two might have thought “ah I knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up a two-weekly blog”, and a few others who would have blamed t’interweb. Well actually ‘publication date’ has just moved so that arrival on social media, and publication in The Ringing World, are closer together.

When I was an eager young bell ringer, in the ‘Olden Days’ according to my daughter, The Ringing World hitting the doormat on a Thursday, folded into three and in a paper sleeve, was something I looked forward to. I still look forward to reading it of course, but I also have so many more sources of information, which differ in speed and quality (like peals).

A difficulty shared by all ringing organisation secretaries is how you get information to absolutely everyone who might find it interesting. I have to use four different communication channels just to get to 10 young Brumdingers! Although to be fair, one of those is voice. I don’t really know who doesn’t get this blog, and each fortnight I get a few new people saying “I have just seen your blog.” Please let me know if you haven’t read this.

Not having ringing on Easter Sunday was almost unprecedented. When ringing was stopped in the early war years was Easter Sunday an exception I wonder? We are still getting people asking whether they can ring just one bell or go as a family and not bump into anyone else, but not to put too fine a point on it, it would actually be against the law (in England anyway) – if going to ring doesn’t pass one of the four tests it should not happen. We have to wait for the official guidance to change.

Ringingroom.com has become a source of much focus. This virtual ringing platform, that looks and feels a bit like Abel but with different people on each bell, has been developed by Bryn Reinstadler and Leland Kusmer and has already got a lot of followers and performances vying for attention on Bellboard. A good introduction was published in last week’s Ringing World. It seems that each day I log into it there are different features enabled. I have used it so far to keep my young ringers group interested, to help teach a couple of people to ring plain hunt on handbells, and have enjoyed ringing more advanced handbells with isolated friends. As I write this I see Graham John has also released a platform for handbell ringers. I need to check that out.

Some Guilds and Associations are busier than ever trying to keep members and local ringers interested and motivated. Virtual pub sessions, training webinars, Zoom workshops, are all being deployed in the interests of maintaining our ringing activities. The Council and ART are developing a webinar series, and are testing content on smaller audiences. If your local association has lost touch with you, maybe encourage things yourself as there is much that can be done. Soon there will be webinars published on YouTube, including a series on using Abel.

Do you have your Amazon purchases going through Smile yet? Smile directs 0.5% of the net value of your purchases to the charity of your choice so it can be set up to direct funds to your local association (or the Council, which is already set up in Smile). My own Amazon purchases have sent £11 to the St Martins Guild so far – that might not seem a lot but multiply it by lots of members and it’s better than nothing. It’s free money. It needs your treasurer to register the charity with Amazon Smile.

When people criticise the Central Council it is often because they don’t think it does anything and operates from some ivory tower. I keep being surprised by how much has been going on in Workgroups behind the scenes. What often goes unreported is the work of the Stewardship and Management Workgroup (SMWG) that gives advice on all sorts of (particularly technical) aspects of ringing and ringing infrastructure to ringers and other stakeholders.

Hopefully you saw an appeal from SMWG for people to join this advice-giving group. There has been a great response to far – thank you to all the new volunteers. There is still room for more so please do look at the roles and consider getting involved – see https://cccbr.org.uk/nr4smw/. We hope this will also give the group the opportunity to be proactive as well as reactive, developing courses, videos, webinars, etc. This is a time to plan!

What we wouldn’t give a top social media influencer to take an interest in bellringing, particularly a YouTuber or Instagrammer. Could someone please teach Joe Suggs or Wengie to ring? The comedian Joe Wilkinson is not a bad start – last week he tweeted “Bellringing is a really difficult thing to practice secretively, isn’t it?”, which was picked up by ringer Simon Everest and culminated in Joe saying he would learn to ring when ringing returns. Good effort Simon!

Back to CC activity, and the University taskforce has started work. Ian Roulstone is leading it and he has a team of young ringers who are either about to go to University, there already, or recently left but still active with University ringing. The brief is to develop strategies for making sure that the move into University life is not a point at which young ringers are lost, but one where young ringers develop and thrive. A logical extension to that is to also make sure the we halt the next drop off point as well, those who leave university ringing and never get back into local ringing. Ian’s intention is to let the young ringers themselves drive the project.

And finally well done Rosie Robot on ringing a course of Bob Minor. She was perhaps fortunate to ring in such a good band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7zQhuOdKIs I look forward to following her progress.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Winchester Annual District Meeting Minutes – Feb 2020

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Annual District Meeting held on Saturday 8th February 2020 in the Parish Hall, Hursley.

1. Chairman’s Welcome. The Chairman, John Croft, opened the meeting at 5.28 p.m., with a welcome to those present, including the Master of the Guild, Peter Jordan, and our other visitors, and with thanks to the Rector and Wardens for the use of the bells, to the Rector, the Revd William Prescott for leading the service, to Gary Davies for playing the organ and to the Hursley Band for hosting the day and in particular Christine Hill and her helpers for laying on a splendid ringers’ tea [applause], and all those present for supporting the meeting.

2. Attendance. The following 28 members of the District  (representing eleven bands and unattached), and three guests signed the attendance register: Robert Eames and Roy LeMarechal (Bishopstoke) Janice Higgins, Christine and Ian McCallion, Tessa and Tony Smith, and Martin Waldron (all of Hursley), Micki Nadal (King’s Somborne and Stockbridge),Gary Davies and Brenda and John Palk, (all of Lockerley and East Tytherley), Roger Booth (New Alresford), Caroline and Martin Daniels and Jennifer and Nigel Herriott (all of Romsey), Rodney Skinner (Ropley), Jenny Watson (Sparsholt), John Colliss, and Bruce Purvis (Winchester Cathedral), Paul Fitzgerald and Christine Knights-Whittome (Wonston), Joyce Croft, and Trisha Shannon (all unattached); Charlotte Colliss (Swanmore), Pete Jordan (Guild Master – Basingstoke) and Jennifer, Martin Waldron’s partner, comprising the guests. Also present were Christine and Peter Hill, Jinny Kufluk, Christine and Barry Saunders and Derek Stewart (all of Hursley), Caroline Fairley (Winchester Cathedral), John Croft and Edmund Wratten (all unattached); a total of 35.

3. Apologies for absence. Apologies for absence were received from Amanda Bayford, Jen Churchill, Drew and Sue Craddock, John Gawne-Cain, Philip Gillibrand, Andrew Glover, Carol Higgins, Sara Janssen, Elizabeth.Johnson, and Charlotte and Jonathan Smith.

4. Minutes of the Previous Meeting. Subject to amendments (‘Northington’ from ‘Broughton’, item 9, Future Events refers and ‘Elizabeth Johnson’ from ‘Rodney Skinner’, item 10 no. 3, Channel Islands District refers) adoption as a true record of the minutes of the Autumn District Meeting held on 9 November at Easton Parish Hall was proposed by Rob Eames, seconded by Jenny Watson and carried on a show of hands.

5. Matters Arising.

Minute 5, ‘Romsey Show’: John Palk remarked that the potential for securing as many as 60 names for follow-up at the Romsey Show was a ‘pipe-dream’, and questioned the value for money of the outlay of £300. Roger Booth disagreed and explained that at similar events there had often been as many as 50 or 60 enquiries. On this occasion some 15 people had left their details to be contacted, and some of these had started lessons, but there could be better follow up by local towers. Events such as this had the potential to be excellent value for money, both in terms of PR and attracting new ringers, and when so much money was locked up in District, Guild and BRF funds, a great deal of outreach work was possible for the outlay of a very small proportion of these funds. Nigel Herriott observed that, at Romsey at least, recruitment was not a problem. Roy LeMarechal pointed out that the Romsey Show was visited from across the county of Hampshire and beyond and many other towers would benefit.

Minute 5,’Donation to the Youth Ringers’ Outings’: Tony Smith reported that the £100 offered to the organiser to support these outings was taken up in due course.

Minute 5, ‘Ringing World National Youth Competition’ Martin Daniels sought reassurance that the failure of any District ringer to be chosen for the Guild entry for the RWNYC did not mean that the District’s offer of financial support would not be renewed. The Treasurer confirmed that the offer was on-going.

Minute 9 ‘Future Events’. The Secretary remarked on the resounding success of the Carol Service at Northington.

6. Loss of members through death. None notified.

7. Confirmation of belfry elections.

Compounding member:

Emily J Crowder of Kensington on 9 November 2019 prior to a peal at Bishopstoke, proposed by Roy LeMarechal, seconded by Graham Wright.

Probationary members:

Douglas Page and Oscar Schultz of Winchester College on 12 November 2019, proposed by Alec Graham, seconded by Caroline Fairley.

Madeleine McHardy of Sparsholt on 6 January 2020, proposed by John Cleverley, seconded by Jenny Watson.

Hephzibah Murray of Winchester College on 28 January 2020, proposed by Caroline Fairley, seconded by Edmund Wratten.

Christine Hyde of Sherfield English on 4 February 2020, proposed Caroline Daniels, seconded Martin Daniels.

Hannah Whaites of Wonston on 8 February 2020, proposed by Gerry Cornick, seconded by Christine Knights-Whittome.

8a. Election of new ringing members.

Richard Eames of Bishopstoke, proposed by Roy LeMarechal, seconded by Peter Clarke.

George Mansfield, Bailey Riches, Harriet Riches and Nathan Smith of New Alresford, proposed by Ian Redway, seconded by Roger Booth.

Jon Butler and Alison Jones of Romsey, proposed by Andrew Glover, seconded by Rhoda Willson.

Che Haefner and Claire Webster of Winchester College, proposed by Alec Graham, seconded by Caroline Fairley.

Ella Kesterton, Rianne Li and Esther Sweeting of Winchester College, proposed by Caroline Fairley, seconded by Edmund Wratten.

Milena Nunn of Wonston, proposed by Christine Knights-Whittome, seconded by Gerry Cornick.

 8b. Presentation of Certificates. Membership certificates and badges were taken for members at Bishopstoke, Lockerley and East Tytherley, and Sherfield English, and certificates for members at Romsey.

9. Officers’ Reports. Secretary’s Report: the secretary’s report was presented for scrutiny for errors and omissions: with none noted it could be forwarded to the Guild Report Editor for publication. Treasurer’s Report and accounts: adoption of the accounts, as usual carefully examined by John Colliss, was approved by the meeting, and they were signed and dated by the Chairman.

10. Election of Officers. The Chairman, in standing down prior to the election, remarked that if elected he was prepared to serve for a further term of one year, but felt it was right not to remain in office for too long, so that the District might benefit from the new ideas and new directions that could result from a change of chairman. So the District has the coming year to give due thought to choosing his successor. The Secretary echoed these sentiments, adding that if he were elected this year would mark a decade in post. The Treasurer was happy to continue in post, though he ‘would not be offended if anyone else wished to take over as treasurer’. The other sitting officers, bar the Newsletter Editor were likewise willing to stand for 2020, and John Colliss was willing to continue as Independent Examiner of the accounts. The offices were filled as follows:-

 Chairman: John Croft, proposed by Peter Hill, seconded by Nigel Herriott;

Secretary: Bruce Purvis, proposed by Nigel Herriott seconded by Roy LeMarechal;

Treasurer: Tony Smith, proposed by Roy LeMarechal, seconded by John Palk;

Ringing Master: Edmund Wratten, proposed by Nigel Herriott, seconded by Bruce Purvis

Joint Ringing Master: Jenny Watson, proposed by Bruce Purvis, seconded by Trisha  Shannon;

Executive Committee Representative: John Croft, proposed by Nigel Herriott, seconded by John Palk;

Independent Examiner of Accounts: John Colliss, proposed by Bruce Purvis, seconded by Martin Daniels;

Webmaster: Andrew Glover, proposed by Christine Knights-Whittome, seconded by Bruce Purvis;

Newsletter Editor: Following a brief discussion on the need for a newsletter in current circumstances, the meeting agreed to leave the editorship vacant; candidates for all other posts elected on a show of hands.

11. Future Events. The Secretary advised the meeting that the year’s programme was still at an early stage of compilation, with district practices for February and September being established and – most importantly – the location of the next Annual Meeting being settled, at Twyford on 13 February 2021. Concerns were raised – and duly noted – regarding the date for the Spring District Meeting falling on  9 May, conflicting with VE Day commemorations taking place that weekend, and regarding the staging of the Stockbridge Ringing Festival in the height of summer, likely to be busy with weddings and the Trout’n’about Festival on Sunday 2 August – and for which the Charmborough Ring has been booked. The date of 2 May for the Spring District Meeting and an autumn date for the Festival of Ringing were proposed.

12. Guild Striking Competitions. The Secretary reminded the meeting that the Guild Inter-District 8-bell competition would take place on the morning of the AGM on Saturday 13 June at Alton, with the draw at 10.30 a.m. The Guild Inter-Tower competitions (6- and 8-bell) would take place at Fawley and Eling respectively on Saturday 16 May, with draws at 3.00 p.m. The Inter-District 10-bell competition would take place at All Saints’, Basingstoke on Saturday 5 September, with the draw at 10.30 a.m. Tony Smith volunteered to organise a team for the Inter-District 8-Bell Competitions, and his offer was accepted with gratitude.

13. Guild Master. Pete Jordan, the Guild Master, said that when he was learning to ring, he was amazed at the time and effort that was devoted to teaching new learners. Ringing was a hobby, undertaken voluntarily, and he wished to thank us all for our efforts in the teaching and learning process, for our commitment to Sunday service ringing, and for taking on roles at tower, district and guild levels. He thanked us all, very much indeed. Secondly, Pete drew the attention of the meeting to the Heritage section of the Guild Action Plan, which included a planned initiative to record peal boards throughout the Guild. Allan Yalden, the project co-ordinator, requested that photographs of peal boards be sourced and copied – or taken from scratch and sent via e-mail – to him. Caroline Daniels enquired how Allan could be contacted: the answer was “via the Guild website”.

14. Any Other Business. 

  1. Beyond Bob Doubles, February. Edmund Wratten gave notice of the next Beyond Bob Doubles practice, at East Tytherley on Wednesday 26 February, concentrating on triples and major methods such as Grandsire, Stedman and Little Bob Major.
  1. Guild Report. John Palk reminded the meeting that the provision of copies of the new Guild Report was on an opting-in basis, requiring members to request their copies through their tower secretaries.
  1. Format of meetings. Nigel Herriott observed that our average age was now above 60 years. “Six or seven years ago” our ADM at North Stoneham had “filled the church”, and he wondered whether the format for District meetings of ringing – service – tea – business meeting was still viable as our age-profile gradually increased and people were retiring from ringing as they got older. Caroline Daniels enquired rhetorically whether there were any people coming into ringing in their twenties. The Secretary agreed that, although the traditional format of meetings had been subject to change during his tenure, the level of interest and attendance did concern him, and he proposed to organise a meeting of interested parties, including tower reps and the contributors to this discussion, to address just this issue. Tower Reps’ meetings were usually held in June. Roger Booth suggested the issue was not served well by a delay of four months, and that a meeting in April would address the issue to greater effect.
  1. Bell Restoration Fund. The collection for the BRF raised £27.

 

The meeting closed at 6.13 p.m.

Ringing Returns campaign

For a lot of us, this hiatus in ringing has been frustrating, but it has been really great to see the efforts that some are going to to stay in touch with their ringers, to keep practicing their skills using software apps and playing virtual ringing games, and even keeping the after practice virtual pub experiences going.

Ringing Returns will be a campaign over the coming weeks and months looking at two areas:

  1. how we can make good use of the down time to learn something new so that once the restrictions are lifted we can put it in to practice by recording a performance, from call changes to peals and everything in between.
  2. how we can celebrate a return to ringing once restrictions are lifted.

Of course we don’t want this restriction to undo all the great work that has been carried out over the last few years with recruitment and training, and we want to celebrate our return to ringing in a time honoured way, by flooding the air with the sound of bells. We have been and will continue to liaise with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to get what information we can, and make use of their support in the promotion of bellringing when the restriction is lifted.

We don’t know when the restrictions will be lifted so trying to coordinate a specific date for mass ringing is difficult, and it may be at different times depending on which continent you are, or a gradual lifting rather than full scale. The Central Council Comms & Marketing Workgroup have been considering how we could achieve that given that we don’t know when and how restrictions might be lifted.

You could also be using this time to plan a recruitment campaign so that when the restrictions are lifted, you can invite your communities to share in the celebrations. There are some great resources to help with this on the Central Council website https://cccbr.org.uk/resources/publicity-material/ and the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) has developed a large package of recruitment and retention resources which are available to everyone at http://ringingteachers.org/resource-centre/recruitment-and-retention/recruitment-success

Look out for more ideas and information via the CCCBR website and social media, and the Ringing World.

Vicki Chapman
CCCBR Public Relations Officer

VE Day 75 Advice

The following message has been issued by Bruno Peek, organiser of the of UK’s VE Day 75 celebrations:

“I am afraid that the terrible Coronavirus emergency and consequent Government guidance means that we must advise participants to cancel or postpone the majority of the VE Day 75 community celebrations due to take place on the bank holiday weekend of 8th – 10th May. It is right and proper that people should be kept safe and healthy.

My sincere thanks to everyone who registered their events and were looking forward to celebrating VE Day 75. I know how disappointed you will be that these cannot now go ahead as planned. However, we are still encouraging solo pipers and town criers to continue to mark the occasion from a safe and suitable location.

I am hoping that all the events you have carefully planned can be moved to the weekend of 15th – 16th August when we will be able to celebrate VE Day and VJ Day, both momentous points in our history.”

Vicki Chapman
CCCBR Public Relations Officer

Guild Annual Report for 2019 and Handbook for 2020

As it is currently not possible to print copies of the Guild Annual Report for 2019 and Handbook for 2020, it is available for download here as a PDF.  This is a redacted copy of the report with all contact details removed.

A full PDF copy of the report will shortly be distributed to towers via your District/Tower Secretary.  A copy can also be obtained from  John Palk, Guild Honorary Report Editor.

Printed copies will be available to those members that requested one when current restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted, and the printers are operational again and we are able to distribute them to you.

Stay safe, and stay at home!

Andrew Glover

W&P Guild Webmaster

 

 

Solo ringing during the Coronavirus lockdown

Message originally posted on the CCCBR website

There have been several enquiries as to whether the ringing of a single bell or a set of Ellacombe chimes should be permitted as they are only rung by one person, especially for Easter Sunday.

It is clear from the UK government that we are being asked to stay at home to help halt the spread of coronavirus and that all unnecessary journeys should cease.  It is also clear from the Church of England that all churches are to remain closed for the time being:

Staying at home and demonstrating solidarity with the rest of the country at this testing time, is, we believe, the right way of helping and ministering to our nation. Therefore, for a season, the centre for the liturgical life of the church must be the home, not the church building.”
(Letter from Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops of the Church of England to all clergy in the Church of England 27 March 2020).

We did seek explicit guidance on this point from Lambeth Palace and were referred back to this guidance, and that churches are closed as part of wider legal restrictions.”  The Central Council Executive does not think this needs to be made any clearer.

Guild 6 and 8-bell Inter-tower Striking Competitions postponed

Fellow Ringers

I am sure you that it will not come as a surprise to you that the striking competition committee have taken the decision to postpone the Guild 6 and 8 bell inter tower striking competition until later in the year. I am not in a position to offer a date at this time as we feel that we need to wait to see how things develop with the covid-19 virus and the rest of the Guild calendar for a few weeks.

We hope that you are all safe and well.

Pete Jordan

Striking competition committee convener

CCCBR – President’s Blog #6

It seems almost incomprehensible that two weeks ago I was on my way to the ART Conference. We were saying then that if it had been the following week it might have been cancelled. By Sunday evening we realised that if it had been a day or two later it would have been cancelled. Ringing has of course been turned on its head.

The Conference itself was great – full of ideas and enthusiasm. There was a strong focus on the importance of good striking and how that should form part of the learning process. Sunday saw a running of a new Recruitment and Retention Workshop which has been developed by the Volunteering and Leadership Workgroup and particularly the efforts of Matt Lawrence, Ringing Master of the Shropshire Association. It was also interesting to hear of Matt’s own success in creating a band in his home village of Lilleshall – an inspiration to those wondering how to get ringing going at their local tower. It can be done!

The evening’s ART Awards saw over £3000 of awards given in recognition of recruitment, training, learning and leadership with a wide range of nominations from around the world. Stephanie Warboys orchestrated the awards supported by judges Julia Cater and Jonathon Townsend.

The final version of the Churches Conservation Trust’s recruitment video came just as we weren’t allowed to ring any more so that campaign has had to be postponed. A shame because I was really eager to show it to people as it is one of the best recruitment videos I have seen. It manages to mix people of all ages, multi-cultural and multi-faith. It was tested on non-ringers with very positive feedback.

I joined the Comms and Marketing Workgroup’s regular Skype call and was able to explain the thinking behind some of the ‘Strategic Priority’ actions. They are now thinking about a “Ringing Returns” campaign (needs to explanation!), the creation of a YouTube channel to showcase the best examples of change ringing so all developing ringers can see what they are aiming at, the creation of a ‘Best Local Band’ competition a bit like best kept village contests which would be for local communities or congregations to recognise their bellringers, and starting to look at marketing insights for what sort of people to target (“if you like this then you might like to try bellringing”).

The Strategic Priorities which I mention quite a bit are going to start getting serialised in The Ringing World starting next week (I think).

Talking of The Ringing World, I have suggested in other media that those who are comfortable writing could sharpen their pencils and send material into The Ringing World to make up for the lack of peals and quarter peals. Whilst fresh material is preferable, there are some things I would really like to read again. I particularly remember a report of the ‘Flixton Ringing Match’. I think it was a series on ringing controversies. It was on the back page of a very old copy. Anyone remember it?

Bells in The Netherlands rang out on Wednesday night “as a sign of hope for those in need and a sign of respect for those who comfort them.” Paul de Kok posted a YouTube clip of the bells of Dordrecht Cathedral ringing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVSR8u3zh5M&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2hiy9k–ckBVyV_a_XoZbXKsxbEkjZBBOcXX5DIkoRD5jQv6MvUHm7zlE

This is not so difficult if you don’t need so many humans to do the ringing! However bell ringing in Dordrecht is about to change. Many of us have enjoyed visiting Dordrecht to ring on the excellent ‘t Klockhuys bells and enjoyed the local hospitality. Paul and his son Harm Jan are currently in the middle of a fantastic project to put a ring of 10 bells in the adjacent Groote Kerk tower. These bells, with a tenor of 17 cwt, comprise four fine 1916 Taylor bells donated by the Keltek Trust, with six trebles designed by Mathew Higby and currently being cast by Allanconi in Italy. The frame has been designed and built with local expertise (both Paul and Harm Jan are engineers) and the aim still is to have the ring ready this summer.

With no tower bell ringing going on, and handbell performances restricted to keen (and not so keen) ringing families, many have been turning to Abel, Mabel, Mobel and a range of other tools to try and satisfy their ringing urges. Miscellaneous electronic solo performances have made a brief appearance on BellBoard and may need to find another home. I have not escaped temptation. Something I have meant to ring on handbells for about 18 months will be on the agenda as soon as I am next allowed into the company of five decent and sympathetic handbell ringers.

Topics and presenters are being gathered for a regular series of training webinars to keep ringers interested and active during this shutdown. While many of those who have been ringing all their lives can manage without ringing for a bit, those who are newer to it will miss it much more. However there is still much to be explained and learned while we are isolated and learning how to use WhatsApp, Teams, Zoom, and even House Party. Look out for this over the next week or so.

I have kicked off a small team looking at developing the next generation of mobile belfry which I hinted at in my last blog. One of today’s Microsoft Teams meetings was looking at different designs, sizes of bells, transport options, costs, etc. There was no mention of buses, although a skip wagon was an option for consideration (imagine the tower is the skip and it gets lifted off and plonked on the ground, ready assembled)! Is there a ringer who is currently studying civil or structural engineering at university who would like to join the team and maybe even have the project as part of their studies? It would be an interesting opportunity for someone to get involved. Target is to have the new belfry ready for the 2021 festival season.

Stay safe everyone – ringing will be back.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Bells on Sunday at St Michael’s, Southampton – Sunday 22nd March

While ‘live’ bell ringing is suspended for a while, you can still enjoy the wonderful sound of the bells at St Michael’s, Southampton, as they will be featured on BBC Radio 4’s Bells on Sunday on March 22nd.

Tune in at 5:43am, or if that’s a bit too early for you, you can listen online afterwards:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000gksz