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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

Remembrance Sunday – 8th November 2020

For all of us able to get to a tower to ring, Remembrance Sunday ringing will be different, maybe strange, this year and it will be disappointing most likely for those of us unable to ring ourselves. The remembrance element of the occasion is as important as ever of course, possibly even more so as so many of our communities face such uncertainty and many challenges in everyday life.

Please be kind enough to let me know if your tower has Remembrance Ringing plans, or if you will be ringing handbells or using Ringing Room or similar, as it will help me to respond to media enquiries in good time. In due course, please let me know what you were able to ring, as it will be of interest, and also encouraging, for churches, communities and ringers alike.

Our Guild’s digital archive for the World War 1 Centenary Commemoration is still open for new entries; it will be updated again in the early part of 2021.

Please visit https://wpbells.org/ww1/ for background information.

If you would like to have your Remembrance Ringing included in the digital archive, please email the relevant details to ww1bells@aol.com or submit to BellBoard with the appropriate footnote.

Thank you.

Viv Nobbs

Public Relations Officer

Contact Viv Nobbs

President’s Blog #20

It’s funny how words come into your lexicon (like that one). I have spent 50 years not feeling a need to use the word ‘nuanced’ and now hardly a day goes by without it coming into conversation. (nuanceda. characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.) The current review of the Coronavirus ringing guidance is intended to be more ‘nuanced’ – to recognise the different levels of risk for different people and in different ringing settings, and enable more local risk assessment and decision making. As I write this, the new three tier system has been announced in England, which may then be reflected in the rest of the UK, and we will need to assess its implications quickly.

Of course ringing restrictions are not just about the United Kingdom. In Australia, nearly all the towers were shut at one stage, but now only about half remain listed as completely shut. The others are anything from minimal ringing to nearly normal. Regulations vary enormously from State to State in Australia, as do the policies of individual churches. Some towers are ringing in New Zealand and plenty of quarters are being reported from Wellington. Kilifi is open and ringing! Last weekend would have been the North American Guild AGM in Honolulu but of course it was replaced with a Zoom meeting with rather more variable weather conditions.

Ringers everywhere in the world are grateful for the opportunities presented by Ringing Room but have you also seen what I think is the best explanation of bellringing in a short video ever? I almost need to create a special category in the YouTube competition to be able to give it a prize. Maybe I should send a prize anyway because the September competition didn’t work out. Well done to Kemp Brinson for this video.

A good week for media coverage. The Spectator carried a brilliant article initially asking why the bells were not ringing at Westminster Abbey. Clearly very well researched, completely in tune with the current restrictions, very supportive and appreciative of bellringing. It is behind a paywall but has been posted in the Bellringers Facebook group. I’ll see if we can get permission to publish it (although this may work). One could quote almost all of it but perhaps just: “Among themselves, ringers refer to their art as ‘The Exercise’. How excellent is that? Recently, Catherine Pepinster at the Telegraph urged young people to keep the art alive. I would have thought it was a natural choice for the Harry Potter generation.”

Another Zoom call last week with the CofE Recovery Group which culminated in the post made last Friday and in The Ringing World. What we have also just got on the radar is the subject of guidance to support Devon’s call change competitions. This is something in which I have a keen interest because I would like to see how the focus on striking that these call change competitions engender could be used elsewhere. Some bands might enjoy and benefit from developing call change ringing per se, rather than seeing it as a stepping stone to struggling through Bob Doubles.

After the first peal on Ringing Room, I suggested it was something no one else would ever do. So I am a bit surprised that I have now rung three. This doesn’t put me very high up the leading peal ringers during lockdown list, which is headed by some prolific handbell ringers, for whom the pandemic has almost been an opportunity. At least it has given time for some people to develop their handbell ringing. The list is headed by Daniel Page, Daniel Page’s brother (and recently elected Junior Steward of the SRCY – congratulations Jack), and Colin Newman.

Possibly the most stupendous peal of the pandemic has just been published – the Perrins family ringing Scientific Triples in hand (pictured). Although the magnitude of this achievement will be lost on many, enough people spotted it to give it that most current and coveted of accolades – ‘Top of the Pops’ on BellBoard. Scientific has been rung to a peal in hand once before – by members of the St Martin’s Guild (including the current Editor of The Ringing World on 1-2) in 2008.

Sunday morning saw a call from one Bruno Peek. This might be a name you recognise, but if not he is the self-styled “Pageant Master”, who has spent the last 30 years organising nationwide acts of celebration, described by The Independent as “the go to man when Britain stops to remember the past.” One of his most high-profile ventures was organising the lighting of 250 beacons across the United Kingdom (and islands) for the Queen’s 90th birthday. He was also behind VE Day and VJ Day celebrations. Bruno is very keen on bells. He sees bellringing as a key way to bring communities together and mark special occasions. So far so good. He wants bell ringing to be part of an annual celebration of the founding of the NHS, which we can probably manage (next July). And he wants to help with the “Britain’s Favourite Bellringers” idea. Awesome.

I have not mentioned this before. Imagine an annual competition to find Britain’s Favourite Bellringers, or better still the World’s Favourite Bellringers, voted on by local communities rather than ringers themselves. This would highlight and profile how important bells are and help make people realise what is going on in the tower. I think maybe regional heats, then national finals. This is a good time to do it because the lockdown has made many communities realise that they miss their bells. Bruno loves the idea for a start, and thinks he can get it in the Daily Express and the Telegraph. Let me know if you have any bright ideas about how this might work in practice.

And Bruno also chipped in £25 for the Mobile Belfry. He would like the proposed Mobile Belfry to be the centrepiece of the final celebrations, parked on Horseguards Parade in front of all the media. Now wouldn’t that be great?

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/10/13/presidents-blog-20/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Guild Officer Recruitment

Message from the Master:-

Dear Members

At the recent AGM, it was announced that regrettably our General Secretary has had to stand down due to personal reasons and we are URGENTLY seeking a replacement to fill the post for the next 2 years until re-election of officers in June 2022.

It is important for the Guild that we find someone to fill this role. Ideally we would like to have someone available that could be voted in post at the November Exec. If you think there may be someone in your tower who might be interested then please get in contact with them to find out. I would love somebody to just come forward and volunteer however if you think that you might be interested please do not hesitate to email me or give me a call (07583 356 936) to chat about it.

Also attached are 2 recruitment posters for Communications and Striking competition Committees. The Comms committee additionally needs a convener, a post which Andrew Glover has been covering since Gary Marsh left as well as his Webmaster role and he could do with a well-earned break. In the same way please could you consider joining one of these committees to support the Guild or actively discuss with tower members who you think may be interested or suited to the job.

Many thanks

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

Posters

Guild Secretary

Striking Competition Committee

Guild Communications Committee

Further development of Coronavirus guidance from CCCBR – the Path Ahead

Last Friday lunchtime, I was notified by my daughter’s school that one person in her year group had tested positive for Coronavirus and the entire year group was being sent home to self-isolate for 10 days. One of the first things she did on getting home was to say that she wouldn’t be able to fulfil either of her Sunday ringing commitments, and she informed both tower captains. Such is life at the moment.

Her absence from ringing was not just a sense of responsibility to her fellow ringers. The school had given pretty strict guidance on what to do in this 10 day period and it did not include unnecessary outings, however strong the mitigations ringing has adopted. Even socially distanced reduced duration ringing was going to be put on hold.

By and large, ringers are an above averagely sensible group and respect the need for the ringing community to be consistent and act as one on the application of the guidelines. There are outbreaks of ‘cleverdickery’ and ‘whataboutery’, but generally the socially distanced, restricted ringing recommended in the guidance has been adopted. However, we have been at the current level of restriction for a while, and even though we appear to be in the second wave of Coronavirus infection in Britain, you probably want to know what the plans are for ringing recovery.

Before going into what we propose to do next, I would like to recap how we have got to where we are now.

When the guidance was originally discussed with the Church of England Recovery Group it was on the basis that ringing for services was a good starting point for getting ringing going again, and was timed to coincide with the reopening of churches. What then happened was that by no means all churches reopened, and so the guidance was clarified to remove the service ringing restriction, as many incumbents were happy to have bells rung anyway.

That first round of guidance did not enable as many towers to start ringing as we had hoped. Smaller towers in particular are not able to ring enough bells at 2m distance for it to be worthwhile, although larger towers have adapted well. We used this as the basis of our discussions with the Recovery Group on reducing distancing to 1m – that we had not been effective in enabling much service ringing with 2m distancing.

Work on the guidance to this point had been shared by Phillip Barnes, Mark Regan and me, with Alison Hodge’s Stewardship & Management Group also working on detailed guidance and risk assessments. Zoom calls are held with the Recovery Group about every two weeks. Knowing that we needed to move into the next phase of guidance, we invited David Pouncey to join the group to give a fresh perspective and to help shoulder a burden that weighs heavily. David is a recently retired GP with very relevant medical experience who had previously engaged with us and offered his help.

The good news for the future is that we have now agreed with the Recovery Group that distance between ringers will be able to be reduced to 1m+ provided other mitigations are in place. Face coverings are probably the most important of them, as the understanding of the aerosol transmission of the virus has increased over the course of the pandemic. This has particular relevance for ringing given the setting of our activity and our close spacing to each other.

We are very mindful however that announcing a relaxation of restrictions at a time when infection levels are increasing may appear inappropriate, even if that relaxation is based on a very sound interpretation of the current risks, and agreement with the Church. So we intend to move to this next level with an overall revision of guidance that shifts the decision making process down to association and tower level, and which can be based on the overall level of restrictions in a particular place or region. The UK Government looks to be moving to a three-tiered “traffic lights” plan based on number of infections per 100,000 of population and when that is launched, we will align our advice to that.

We are also working on clear guidance for local and personal risk assessment, so that you and your band can decide whether to ring or not based on an informed understanding of the risks generally, and your tower’s particular circumstances. Large well-ventilated spaces are much less risky than small unventilated rooms: those who work closely with others have a much greater risk of spreading the virus than those who work from home or have relatively few social interactions. This could enable the low risk environments to extend ringing time to 30 minutes, although high risk environments might conclude that they should not ring at all. We are looking at whether if any tower is unsure about how to interpret the guidance for them, someone at association level could be equipped to help, which is what appears to be happening in most places anyway. We expect all this to be in place in the next week or two. We want to be ready to act as soon as infection levels drop, and to be able to react more quickly to future changes in circumstances.

Finally, Mark Regan has been looking at how young ringers’ groups could benefit from published guidance for “holiday and after school clubs, and other out-of-school settings.” This guidance allows larger groups of children to meet regularly in consistent groups, which could be very useful.

Simon Linford
President, Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

(this article was published in The Ringing World, issue 5711, 9 October 2020)

President’s Blog #19

The days have probably gone when ringers chose their universities based on the ringing opportunities available. Many of my contemporaries will admit that ringing was a factor in their own choices, but those were different times, times when the “Desmond” (a.k.a. the “Ringer’s Degree”) was almost, but not quite, a badge of honour. For young ringers, going to university can be an exciting time, but it is also a time looked forward to by the ringing communities receiving them. Fresh keen ringers are welcome anywhere.

In my home city of Birmingham, we were pleased to see university students return and also to welcome a few very capable ringers who have stated at our universities. Ringing opportunities are currently limited but the new arrivals have been included in the city centre ringing. There was much discussion on university societies at the Council AGM after workgroup leader Ian Roulstone gave his short presentation, particularly the importance of supporting university ringing if the university society doesn’t have critical mass. More information can be found on this workgroup on the newly updated workgroup page of the CC website

Coverage of ringing in national media seems to have got better in recent years. Emily Hall featured in an excellent BBC piece on the return of ‘Covid-Secure’ ringing to Beeston, turning a difficult situation into a positive. You may also have seen a brief glimpse of comedian Susan Calman in a trailer for her ‘Secret Scotland’ series. A vignette on her visiting the bell tower at Inveraray, looked after by Ruth Marshall, will appear in an episode to be broadcast in December.

Last time I talked about two towers that had moved ringers onto different levels to achieve more separation but has any tower adapted their rope circle to increase the spacing between ropes and ringers? Nantwich, which benefits from a large ringing chamber anyway, has inserted new timber struts between walls to allow a rope to be drawn into a new position (see picture). Be careful when making adjustments to towers – check with the Incumbent whether a faculty is required (Nantwich did and one wasn’t).

Progress is being made on the Covid ringing guidance – quietness is not a sign of inactivity. The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to its ranks. 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 and is now reviewing and updating all the Guidance Notes.

Situations vacant! The Council is looking for someone to help our Secretary, Mary Bone, in an assistant role. This is particularly in terms of helping with the administration of Council membership, dealing with changes in details, maintaining address lists in various places, and helping in the run up to the AGM. If you have some organisational ability, some spare time, and would like to become a valued member of the team, please either contact Mary secretary@cccbr.org.uk or me.

Changing flights is a regular reminder of overseas ringing trips that have been cancelled. This week I finally got the email from Aer Lingus saying that my flights to New York to judge the Trinity Shield had been cancelled, along with an impossible refund process. But I was happy to take the voucher because it will happen again. The best thing about Aer Lingus to New York from Birmingham via Dublin is you can have four breakfasts – one at each airport and one on each aircraft.

ART has adapted its Learning the Ropes Handbells scheme to allow quarter peals on online platforms in a pragmatic approach to keeping people making progress. Part of ART’s thinking was that such performances are generally harder than ringing with real people in front of you ringing real bells up and down. There is one proviso though in that to complete the LtR Handbells scheme, at least one quarter peal should be rung with real people and real bells. This was felt sufficient to demonstrate good handbell technique and the ability to ring in the same room as others (or same churchyard).

I enjoyed a Sunday evening discussion with members of the Truro DG. An hour easily turned into two as we explored a range of subjects with differing levels of controversy! For instance, “how many rings of bells would you have left in your area if every church with a congregation of fewer than 25 closed for good?” One thing I thought was very interesting and possibly little known is the practice of ringing call change peals – long compositions of call changes, which can be very challenging. Am I right in thinking someone has called a complete peal (as in method peal) in call changes or did I dream it?

Search for Tong in/on Dove and you will see find a perhaps unremarkable 12 cwt ring of 6, but then you come across the additional information “Also hung for ringing: bourdon bell (‘Great Bell of Tong’); rung from chancel.” Rung only on a small number of special days in the year, the Great Bell is a special thing – a special thing which is now easier to ring as it has been re-hung by Taylors. Apparently it actually goes up to the balance now with no hernia risk, which is a definite improvement.

Finally, just like other museums, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Museum has been closed to visitors, and group tours of the bellfoundry buildings have also stopped. Good news is the trust that owns it has received lottery funding to make changes within the building to ensure it is COVID compliant and can reopen to visitors. There are longer term plans to develop the museum further – the Brumdingers young ringers group had great fun helping with ideas for how such a museum could be attractive to young visitors, although there was a lot of focus on the gift shop and café!

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/09/29/presidents-blog-19/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

200 Club draw results – September 2020

Normally the 200 Club draw is held at the AGM. This year, for obvious reasons, that was not possible so Wendy Smart (of Botley) and I did the draw together last Tuesday. As the AGM was delayed the numbers that went into the hat were those contributing between April and July, to maintain consistency with previous draws, rather than April to September. The amount available was reduced as some of my regular subscribers were unable to make their usual cash payments in person. Anyway, the results of the draw, as announced by Pete Jordan after the Zoom on-line AGM this afternoon, were as follows:

Draw Date: 22/09/2020

Draw for April to July money
Prize Accumulation £34.00

Winning Numbers Winners
First 50% £17.00 13 Allan R Yalden
Second 20% £6.80 15 Viv Nobbs
Third 10% £3.40 25 Nikki Brown
Fourth 10% £3.40 35 Piers Armstrong (2)
Fifth 5% £1.70 6 Pete Jordan
Sixth 5% £1.70 28 Peter Hill

I shall be sending the prize money out shortly. The Training and Development Fund will also benefit by £34 as a result of this draw. The next draw will be in November at the Executive Committee meeting. If anyone would like to join the 200 Club please send me your details as listed on the 200 Club section of the Guild website.

Robin Milford

**AGM TODAY at 3pm**

If you have not already done so, you need to register before you can join the AGM online today.

The registration link will be available from your District or Tower Secretary. It is also available on the Guild Facebook site and Twitter and has been distributed to the win-port email group.

Instructions on how to register are available here.

Once your registration is approved you will receive further instructions on how to join the webinar and guidelines on how to participate in the meeting.

If anyone has apologies for absence, items of Any other business, or comments or questions on any Agenda item, please send them to Tony Smith in advance so that the meeting can run as smoothly as possible.

200 Club Draw for AGM

The next 200 Club draw will take place later this week and the result will be announced after the AGM. Because of the delay to the AGM only subscriptions covering the period April to July will be included, to maintain consistency with other draws. The next draw, around the time of the November Executive Committee meeting, will cover the period August to November. Any existing subscribers who normally pay by cash, cheque or bank transfer rather than by standing order might like to check when their last payment was made to ensure you get entered into the next draw. New subscribers will be welcome! Details of payment methods are on the 200 Club page of the Guild website.

Robin Milford

Channel Islands District future move to the Salisbury Diocesan Guild

Channel Islands District future move to the Salisbury Diocesan Guild.

Dear Friends

As you may be aware from previous statements to the Executive Committee or the recent AGM papers circulated, the episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands is planned to be transferred to the Salisbury Diocese. This decision which was approved by both Houses of Parliament in July 2020. There is still ongoing work to complete this process which is expected to be completed in 2021. 

In discussion with the Master of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers we both felt it was important to understand the wishes of the Channel Island District members, as to whether they wanted to remain in the W&P or to move with their churches to the SDG.

Over the summer there has been much discussion in the Channel Islands District and a vote of all district members returned a 65% wish to move to the Salisbury Guild. The W&P and SDG will be working over the c oming months to agree the final date and what needs to be put in place for a clean transfer.

This will be a sad day for the W&P, having enjoyed many years of association with the Channel Islands. We have made many friends in the ringing community through close association, and I am sure that we will continue to enjoy ringing together in the future after the move. 

We will keep you up to date as things progress and perhaps – COVID allowing – we can mark the transfer in due course with a decent bit of real ringing!

Hoping you all stay safe and well, 

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

President’s Blog #17

We have a few ‘Situations Vacant’ coming up which will give more people the opportunity to help with the Council’s work. Some of these will be announced after the forthcoming AGM but for now we are looking at establishing an ‘Events Management’ team, which can take care of organising ringing events. This is actually going to be a joint appointment with ART, as the two organisations have some similar events and would benefit from co-ordination. We are looking for people to be in a small team that will develop this expertise and work with local organisers on such events. So if organising things is your bag, please let us know.

The Dove database is one very tangible area of progress at the moment. The transfer to a new software platform has hugely increased the potential power of Dove and the next stage is transferring in all bell-level data. Dickon Love, on introducing the changes, was keen to recognise the contribution of the whole team – Richard Smith (technical development and bug fixing), Tim Jackson (checking transferred data and general counselling), John Baldwin (keeping the old system going and helping with transfer), Tim Pett and Doug Davis (testing).

We are working on a website that will enable ringers to ask questions about compositions, methods and conducting that they don’t understand and don’t know who to ask. The questions will be answered by a small group who are good at answering such questions in a clear unpatronizing way. Alex Byrne of Worcester is leading on it, and is starting off with a list of questions that Barbara Le Gallez sent me which includes such things as “Why does a composition come round / be true for some methods and not others (that are similar)?” and “48 Original Major: 5 5678s (2f,3b), 5 crus (2f,3b), 20 4-bell runs (8f,12b) – What mean these strange runes? Are they “old-fashioned” or “innovative”?” So if you have been spending lockdown pondering such things, help will soon be at hand!

Jack Pease completed the latest Facebook competition, which this time compared the ‘Finest Rings between 30 and 40 cwt’, with the word ‘finest’ being deliberately open to interpretation. Over 4500 votes cast! In a very tight contest, the crown was taken by Evesham, with Lichfield Cathedral close behind.

The Covid guidance pages on the Council website have been reorganised so that we can include a history of updates rather than just have the latest news at the top. It should work better on phones as well. We have submitted draft amended guidance to the CofE to try and reduce the separation to 1m plus mitigations, in line with guidance in other areas. And we are taking on board many comments received directly about how we can move further forward.

I actually did some method revision for the first time since March this Sunday. We rang a touch of 13 Spliced at St Martin’s Birmingham, where the first letter of each lead in order spelled out ‘COVID SELECTED’ (comp John Warboys). Conway, Ockley, Vale Royal, Ipswich, Dover… Having 16 bells enables such socially distanced performances. The conductor found  that calling spliced is slightly more difficult through a face covering especially when a change of method is interrupted by a mouthful of cotton.

A run through of the Central Council AGM on Zoom last weekend ironed out a few creases. The AGM is going to be streamed via YouTube for those who want to follow proceedings, although with the online format it is relatively light on business. The 2021 meeting will be in Nottingham as this one was supposed to have been.

On the agenda will be the 2021 Forward Plan, to which I am sure you are looking forward. While it could just be to actually do some ringing again and rediscover what it’s like to have a blister, it is going to tackle a few things that were proposals from the CRAG review which have not made it past first base. The big one is making progress on establishing some form of direct membership to a central ringing organisation. We spend many an idle hour looking at the structures of organisations like CAMRA (national membership, regional directors, local branches), the Croquet Association (individual, club and corporate memberships), the National Trust, RSCM, etc – organisations that manage to combine national membership with local activity. There will be a number of channels for consultation before Christmas which will hopefully cover anyone who can contribute to the debate.

One of the Brumdingers surprised me more than I think I have ever been surprised in a ringing context before. This is an 11 year old who has only been ringing a year and has not rung plain hunt on tower bells. But she has learned to ring handbells in lockdown and when on Abel the other day I asked her if she was ready to show me Grandsire Doubles on 3-4, which was the homework I had set, she said “can I ring Stedman Cinques?” Never one to stifle ambition, I suggested she at least reduced the peal speed to 3.30 to give her a fighting chance, after which she rang 11-12 to a bob course of Stedman Cinques very nicely (striking scores of 8.4 and 9.5). My flabber has never been so ghasted.

My daughter Charlie, knowing something of the ups and downs of this role at the moment, sometimes says “so Dad, has the list of people you might punch when you next see them gone up today?” So being positive, I have now started a new list! People for whom I will buy a pint, cup of tea, or piece of cake when I see them. Added to the list this week are the ringers of Skipton and Helmsley (they know why) and Andrew Howard, for his kind words in last week’s Ringing World. The CC has a new Treasurer warming up and I look forward to explaining the ‘President’s beer, tea and cake fund’. I am sure he will understand…

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/09/01/presidents-blog-17/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

2020 GUILD AGM PAPERS

Dear All,

Please find below links to the papers including Agenda, motions A, B and C, MoM 2019 and the usual reports for the forthcoming AGM on to be held online on 26th September at 3pm.

Also attached is an item concerning general information about how the online AGM will be conducted and how to register. You must register in order to take part in the online AGM. Registration will open on 12th September.

Regards,

Adrian Nash

Hon. Gen. Secretary

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers

AGM Papers

AGM Zoom Webinar Registration instructions (registration now open)

AGM Zoom Webinar Joining Instructions

First Ringing at St Peter’s Church Petersfield Since Lock Down – 2 August 2020

First Ringing Since Lock Down at St Peter’s Church Norman Bell Tower Petersfield Hampshire

A group of joyous St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers rang on  Sunday 2nd August for the first time since lock down in March.  

To comply with social distancing, the band rang up four of the eight bells, ringing rounds and call changes finishing  with a ring down in Peal.   The ringers are now allowed to ring for fifteen minutes for Sunday service and for weddings. 

Mrs Vanda Leary, St Peter’s Church Warden has placed the ringing performance on the St Peter’s Church Face Book Page for those wishing to hear the ringing. 

Names of ringers in the photographs:  

Names of ringers in the photographs: 

Left to Right:   Jackie and John Downham, Mary Broadbridge, Tower Captain, and young ringer John Leary who rang the heavy 15 ½ Tenor bell which dates back to 1770.  

Guild AGM – Saturday 26th September 2020

The date for the Guild AGM is Saturday 26th September 2020 starting at 3pm. This will now be held online using Zoom Webinar.

You will be required to register if you wish to attend the AGM, and instructions on how to do this will be sent out with the meeting papers.

Due to the added pressures of running the AGM online, we need to streamline the process as much as possible to minimise delay on the day. To help with this, please register apologies of absence with the Hon. Gen. Secretary before 26th September. Also, please use the link to send in any questions you would like answered at the meeting or any items of AOB for the agenda. You will be able to ask questions during the meeting, but it would helpful to the Guild Officers’ to know of any in advance.

Please also forward me details of any deaths and members eligible for life membership within your district, preferably before Saturday 22nd August.

The papers including the Agenda will be distributed to District Secretaries for onward cascade to members by the 26th August.

Adrian Nash

Hon. Gen. Secretary

Winchester and Portsmouth Guild of Bell Ringers

Ringing Activities during Lockdown and beyond…

A while ago I asked what towers had been up to during lockdown. I had a few responses that I have reproduced below:

St Peter’s Bellringers of Titchfield , have been meeting once weekly on Zoom since the lockdown started. We have used our time to catch up with what everyone has been doing, we have also ventured into the Ringing Room with mixed results, we are however becoming used to the software.

One of the upsides of the lockdown is that we have been joined by an ex member at our meetings who is now living in the USA.

Lesley Blackburn – Tower Secretary

The Lockerley and East Tytherley band have been meeting on Jitsi Thursday evenings and Sundays mornings since the start of lockdown.  These replace the sessions we used to enjoy in the pub and over coffees.  We end each session with some ringing on Ringing Room for those that are interested – we are gradually getting better at it and managed our first 120 of Grandsire Doubles this morning.  We also set up a WhatsApp group that gets lots of use by the band.

Gary

St Michael’s Basingstoke have a zoom pub night on Wednesday instead of the practice for catch up and recently a quick quiz.

Ringing room practice is late afternoon on sunday. We ate getting better – gradually

Pete Jordan

Hursley

Our usual pattern of Zoom meetings continues, Tuesday is quiz night, Friday is round-up of news and Ringing Room, and Sunday morning is another chance to chat – often with a slightly wider group participating.

We have been making a bit of noise on the bells at Hursley. The Hills spent two Sunday mornings chiming four bells, mainly in rounds with a little bit of call changes, since then the Hursley married couples have rung minimus methods on socially distant bells (1, 4, 6, 8 of the front 8) – masked and hand-washed for about 15 minutes before the morning service.

Some of the Hursley and Romsey ringers have joined up on Ringing Room to attempt quarter peals, with limited success. Last week it looked as if we were going to score Yorkshire Major until a frozen screen/ringer stopped the attempt in its tracks.

On a personal note, I was pleased that the family age touch of 63 Stedman Triples eventually came round after multiple starts, although I would have to agree with the footnote – we found this very hard work!

It would be nice to hear how other towers are getting on – I did have the thought that there are now a lot of ringers who cannot ring because of social distancing, but there might be towers that are silent and could use some volunteers to chime/ring for service.

Peter Hill

Winchester Cathedral

The Cathedral has kept going mainly in the social dimension with walks aranged every – ? – fortnight – but this has all been arranged through the Cathedral What’sApp group, and since What’sApp seems to run only on smart phones and I feel I’m doing quite well if I can telephone people and take the odd ‘photo, I haven’t really got to grips with What’sApp, which also tells me I have a trillion messages and my version of WA is defunct. So no great progress there. We also have a Google Meet session at 7.30 on a Wednesday. That too, I fear, doesn’t work, for me at any rate. All I get is the hula hoop.

We began ringing at the Cathedral last Sunday – with six of us ringing bells #2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11. Very melodious, in a sort of modal, holy-minimalist sort of way. We rang a touch of PB Minor and a course of Cambridge, a hand-picked team. We came down to the Inner close to a round of applause from the rest of the Cathedral ringers. There should be a photo in the Hampshire Chronicle, courtesy of and (c) Colin Cook.

New Alresford has a social get-together on Zoom on Friday nights

Sparsholt has been hosting a get-together night on Monday eves, with people taking it in turn to organise quizzes. We had a grand finale open-air get together with social distancing at Littleton sports ground yesterday, and I think that will be it until September. There has also been a ringing session (using RR) once a week.

Meanwhile, the King’s Somborne/Stockbridge/Broughton/Houghton axis keeps going with five (YES FIVE) weekday sessions of 3/4-hour in The Ringing Room and Zoom. 5.00 p.m. on weekdays.

Bruce Purvis

If any other tower would like to let me know what they have been up to, please email me here and I can add your report to the website.

Thanks

Andrew Glover

W&P Webmaster

President’s Blog #15

There were a couple of salutary lessons this week on what the future may bring. St Margaret’s Westminster, home of a ring of 10, closed for public services forever on economic grounds with the congregation ‘moved’ to the Abbey next door. And then, of indirect significance, Sheffield Cathedral announced the disbanding of its choir, to start again from scratch with a ‘fresh vision’. We also heard of a couple of towers where bands will not ring again, one because there are no longer going to be services and another because its members are too old to return. We may need to start thinking about a future that could be very different.

The wearing of facemasks, which had previously been “strongly advised” in the Church of England, becomes mandatory in England from Sunday. While this is possibly the final straw for some people (“I am not going to go and ring for 15 minutes and wear a ****** mask”), there are plenty of people who do want to ring, including those newer to bellringing. My kids group, the Brumdingers, will ring for the first time next Sunday and the excitement levels have gone off the Richter scale.

The passing of Dennis Brock was announced shortly after my last blog was posted and he has been widely mourned. Dennis was well known as the oldest active bellringer, having been a loyal member of the band at Sunbury since the age of 11. His ringing for his 100th birthday was covered by national media.

The presentation of the Westley Awards for Church Bell Maintenance went ahead last week, hosted by SMWG. The award is for someone who has become involved in belfry maintenance within the last five years, and shows the most commitment to developing and using their own skills and those of others. Seven of the eight nominations were under 25, with a couple looking after bells whilst at university. The winner was Sue McClaughry from Calstock in Truro who has quickly gone from being a new ringer, to a new tower captain, to getting involved in bell maintenance because no one else was able to do, to leading a local rehanging project. She is now a Truro DG bell adviser advising other towers and PCCs. My daughter will add you to her list of inspiring women!

ART has published nearly 50 bell maintenance videos on YouTube, which have been edited and filmed in the last three weeks. They can be found in the ART Online Learning Channel. Like it or not, YouTube is where people go for instruction manuals these days. I have lost the instruction manual for my car six months after buying it but solved the problem of turning off the G-force meter by asking a passenger with YouTube on their phone. Trial and error was only making matters worse.

A late flurry of entries for the July YouTube competition took the number of candidates for “Best ringing on eight or more bells” to 21. Birmingham submitted a few pieces as the closing bell creaked into action, and the Devon call change ringers are once again strutting their stuff. The playlist can be found on the CC website. The judges this month are Wendy and Graham Bloom from Leeds. When I was a young ringer at Cannock, Wendy (then a Smith (always a Smith?)) was a member of the indomitable Lichfield Cathedral band that won our local 6 bell striking contest every year. That band was one of my early inspirations.

Laura Goodin’s “Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge” has signed up it’s 600th member. The Facebook group acts as a melting pot for those wanting to ring together on Ringingroom. Last week Ringingroom had 3700 unique users, 85% of them from the UK. Many of the rest are from the US, Ireland, and Australia, though there is representation from several other countries as well. If you are looking for the quieter times, avoid Monday-Wednesday evenings, UK time, and Saturday late morning. There is no hour of the day where there isn’t at least someone on Ringing Room.

The use of simulators has come on leaps and bounds in lockdown. Has anyone considered whether it would be possible to deliver a ringing experience in a VR Headset? Does anyone have the knowledge or skills to say how difficult it would be or what it would cost to develop? It would really crack the peripheral vision aspects of ropesight on simulators.

Situations vacant. We are looking for someone with experience in venue or events management/promotion to get involved in a specific project. Contact me and I will let you know what it’s about – it’s a bit Secret Squirrel at the moment.

Westbury saw off a strong challenge from Ebbw Vale in the Facebook contest for best heavy eight. Jewry and Chewton Mendip (my favourites) fell at the semi-final stage. As with previous contests this one has stimulated much debate and banter. Patrick Deakin has now handed over organisation of the contests to Jack Pease, who has wasted no time in launching “Finest rings between 30 and 40cwt”. It’s worth subscribing to ‘Bellringers’ Facebook group just for this.

Mike Shelley talked again in the Ringing World about the Central Council not representing one and two bell towers and practitioners of chiming. I did raise this at the Council Executive meeting last Sunday because I thought it was a question worthy of some consideration. The Council’s member associations focus by and large on four bell towers and above – sometimes threes if they have a band. But not ones and twos, even if hung for ringing. Is there still a ‘Three and Four Bell Society’? Do enough people care about ringing on less than three to form a separate interest group and even society?

And finally, I am going to ring a church bell this Sunday for the first time in five months. I had a 15 minute workout on the bells in Phil Gay’s garage last Sunday (including mask) so I am all set.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

2020 Striking Competitions cancelled

Hello Everyone.

Regrettably, and as I am sure you will understand, due to the covid-19 situation we will have to CANCEL all Guild striking competitions for 2020.

Apologies to those who were keen and eager to come along for a great mornings fun. Lets hope that next year we can take up the challenge again with renewed vigour!

Pete Jordan

Convener – Striking Competition Committee. 

Latest update from CCCBR on CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Updated 20th November

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.

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

Database icon attributed to Stockio.com

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