At the time of writing, BellBoard had over 2600 performances linked in memory of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Mostly single bell tolling, undoubtedly effective and understood by the millions who would have heard it. Such events underline the importance of bells in communities. Ted Westlake took top honours for what must have been the nerve-wracking tolling of the tenor at the Curfew Tower during the funeral procession, supported by Vikki Bulbeck and James White, and with military timing. This ringing had an audience of 13 million on BBC alone!
To be honest the initial announcement of Prince Philip’s passing on the Friday morning caught us out. The clarification of guidance could have been slicker although many ringers and bands just got on with it. When we were first approached by Lambeth and Buckingham Palaces’ representatives to discuss Operations London and Forth Bridges (the plans for what will happen on the deaths of the Queen and Prince Philip respectively), it was all very clandestine and in hushed voices. The Council’s guidance for ringing for these events was drafted and published without fanfare, but it hadn’t been shared widely or updated for the pandemic (and the Church hadn’t really thought about it either). We will be reviewing the London Bridge guidance in the coming weeks and will make sure everyone knows where it is.
The Council is now ready to start recruiting Small Societies to its ranks. This initiative, voted through at the Council meeting last September, is seeking to increase the representation of smaller and emerging bell ringing societies (those with fewer than 75 members) and recognise the part they play in ringing. Ed Sterland has agreed to be the Small Societies Co-Ordinator and we will be writing to all the smaller societies we can find over the coming weeks to invite them to consider affiliation. More information on Small Societies and the application process can be found here https://cccbr.org.uk/about/governance/registered-small-societies/
It was a delight to host the Kildwick MiniRingers on an outing to the Brumdingers Ringing Room practice last Saturday. They were the other very young band that took part in the virtual call change competition, younger even than the two Worcester bands. These young ringers, some of whom have not rung on real bells yet, continue to have the flame of enthusiasm fanned in Ringing Room. We were able to show them how we do 16 bell call changes (four fours) and the Brumdingers’ signature “firing and descent into chaos” with which we always finish our sessions. I am going to miss that now we are back to proper ringing, although the “descent into chaos” bit is likely to stay.
Young ringers’ groups have been able to restart following the guidance published on 12 April. The next stage of unlocking of ringing in England at least will hopefully be on 17 May, and that guidance will be published on the Council website by Friday (today if you are reading the print RW). We are hoping to get ringing for up to 45 minutes for low-risk ringers in well-ventilated towers.
I don’t know about you (obviously) but I find it very difficult to watch recordings of Zoom webinars, and much prefer to see them live. Which is odd really because I hardly watch any live TV now and there are so many advantages to catch-up viewing such as fast forward. However, there are two from the last couple of weeks which I really recommend for those who have given up watching Line of Duty because it’s too complicated.
Firstly a St Martin’s Guild one. David Hull gave a talk about the music of ringing, supported by some good videos to illustrate his points (worth it just to hear the Minor 10 at Worcester). Well worth an hour of your time. (St Martins’ Guild website under ‘Training and Resources’).
And then there was another offering from Cornwall. What is it about Cornwall at the moment? Two blogs running and something great to report from the county where they put the jam on first (quite right too). I did think this week about replacing my entire blog with a link to it saying “just watch this” It’s an amazing and inspirational story about how Bradoc Church increased its congregation five-fold in a strategic plan to meet it parish share by introducing bell ringing as a core focus of the church. It involved particularly bringing in children with chime bars, handbells, and a mini ring actually in the church. Please find and hour and watch it.
Robert’s approach at Bradoc ties in so well with the Lottery bid we are submitting in partnership with the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain. It’s a long term project bid aimed at engaging with the education system to introduce young people to the world of bell ringing using mobile belfries, portable mini-rings and handbells. The HRGB has already piloted a scheme for using handbells to teach music in schools, working through two Local Authority Music Hubs. It brings together all sorts of current CC initiatives.
We had a good meeting of the Recovery Champions last Sunday, with over 80 turning out on a sunny Sunday afternoon, listening to a presentation by Frank Seabright on what they have done in the Ledbury District (one week a month they cancel all their practices and hold one focused practice each evening aimed at different levels), and Matt Lawrence on their impressive efforts in Shropshire. Both stimulated useful debate and ideas to take away.
On a day when the Bellringers Facebook group descended into the gutter again, I happened to be looking at online forums which might be used by ringers who can be nice to each other. This is a Stewardship & Management Workgroup project supported by the Technical group and they have shortlisted Discourse, Invision Community and Plush Forums. These services definitely seem to have come a long way from the days of Yahoo Groups and, dare I say it, old Bulletin Boards. If anyone uses any of these for other communities, we would be interested in your experiences.
Simon Linford President, CCCBR
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Today we have published draft guidance for the period from 17 May to 21 June to enable ringers in England at least to plan for the next phase of lockdown release. This guidance has been agreed with the House of Bishops Recovery Group, but it remains in draft form until the Government finally confims that its four tests have been met immediately prior to 17 May. The guidance is a major step change from previous guidance.
There are two new documents on the Covid guidance pages of the Council website. The first is one specifically covering this five-week guidance period which can be found here, and then an update of the guidance note about individual risks.
The highlights of the guidance are that:
Rule of Six applies indoors – ringing sessions should be arranged for six people
Hands – Space – Face rules apply – face coverings, hand sanitising between ringing, 1m plus mitigations when ringing
Lateral Flow Tests – twice weekly, preferably timed for days of any sustained ringing
Consider your own personal risk
Restrict ringing time to 45 minutes whilst maintaining good tower ventilation
Please do read all of the two guidance documents as there is much more detail in them, and this is just a summary.
About 15 years ago, the roof of Grade I listed Calke Abbey was re-configured and connected to new, bigger, drainpipes because it was no longer coping with increased levels of storm rainfall. It was the first time listed building consent was granted to a Grade I listed building for alterations brought about as a result of climate change. English Heritage (as it was then) revised its definition of ‘conservation’ at the same time to be about managing change rather than conserving things as they are.
This story is relevant because towers are starting to think about adapting to the need for increased ventilation. A couple of years ago I asked for the windows in an airless tower I ring at, Perry Barr, to be changed to be openable, but the request was declined by the church architect. I wonder now whether the answer might be different. The importance of ventilation is becoming more prominent in government guidance and I expect many towers will need to be adapted. Some test cases would be interesting to establish principles.
Last Saturday I attended the first meeting of the new PR Workgroup, which has been assembled by CC PR Officer Vicki Chapman. It was an energising meeting of people all interested in ringing PR – definitely a ‘doing’ group. The Comms & Marketing Workgroup has been wound down. That is not to say that marketing is off the agenda by any means. In fact we are working on two funding bids for large scale marketing initiatives, one with the Big Ideas Company and one with the National Heritage Lottery Fund, the latter in partnership with ART and the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain.
Keeping the PR theme, Jane McCutchan from the Truro DG demonstrated their brilliant PR initiative enabling all bells in Cornwall to be heard on Easter Sunday. Go to the Truro DG website, start typing the name of a tower into the search box, e.g. Gwennap, and you will get a link to the sound of the bells. They have recorded every tower and these links have been distributed across Cornwall’s media. Gwennap is incidentally the scene of the worst sermon I have ever heard, the vicar managing to spend 30 minutes rambling incoherently on the text “When you trim the lamps, burn incense on the altar.”
The PR Workgroup has introduced new faces to Council work. I think a particular success of current Central Council activity is how many people we have involved who would never have considered it before, having moved away from only drawing on the resources of CC Reps. One recruit I spoke to last week introduced himself somewhat apologetically as “only a village Bob Minor ringer really” – but that is exactly what we need. What makes people apologise for lack of experience? Given “only a village Bob Minor ringer” is representative of maybe 75% of ringers (and aspirational for 25%) it is a valuable perspective.
Handbell ringing took a surge with ringers in England in particular taking advantage of Covid restriction relaxation allowing groups to meet outdoors. Lockdown has created a new generation of handbell ringers, with some great success stories like the peal of 147 Treble Dodging Minor with the footnote “first touch of spliced on real handbells 1-2 and as conductor”. Handbell ringing has definitely been my own personal lockdown progress – having not really progressed in ringing for as long as I can remember I have enjoyed rediscovering being rubbish.
Young ringers who missed out on subsidised eBells via ART can take advantage of some more funding made available from the generous donations of the ART Awards of the Handbell Stadium and eBells winners to the fund.)
12 April brings back two mutually exclusive activities, in England at least. Young ringers’ groups can restart under the ‘supervised children’s activities in out-of-school settings’ guidance (see cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus for details), and adults can go to the pub and talk about ringing! I will be celebrating both by going to the gym.
Four bands of young ringers joined 12 others in the first (and probably last) Ringing Room call change competition, discovering that call change ringing on RR is really difficult, and doing so with closed handstroke leads is more difficult still. “May the team with the best internet connections win!” The competition was graced with expert judges in Paul Pascoe and Ian Avery, who helped design the format, and who awarded victory to the Beverley & District Online band. All teams rang the same test piece, being the first half of 60 on 3rds (slightly less if you started late because one of your band couldn’t find their laptop charger). The prizes were a choice of books from the Central Council shop for members of the four winning bands. Special shout out to one of the stewards, George Hart, for choosing my own “Judging Striking Competitions” as his reward for a hard afternoon’s work (bargain at £3.50).
Ironically that is a book that needs another chapter writing on judging Devon-style call change competitions. If I had an extra day in the week I’d write it (with due research). The Ancient Etruscans had eight day weeks – quite clever really as that must have enabled them to get more done.
Ringing on Easter Day proved once again quite how divisive guidance for opening up ringing can become. One thing that is agreed though is that the sooner we get away from rules and guidance that are open to so much ambiguity and room for interpretation the better. Let’s hope we don’t start to have to deal with Covid passports for ringing.
There are over 100 ‘Recovery Champions’ now pulling together and thinking about how to help get ringing back to strength in their local area. Some Recovery champions are taking a very local view, maybe focused on a cluster of towers, while others are coordinating association-wide approaches. One association has allocated a budget of £10,000 to ringing recovery – if you have a rainy day fund, it doesn’t rain much harder than this!
Simon Linford President, CCCBR
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Guidance for ringing for the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Saturday 17th April 2021
What the Church is expecting is tolling of a single bell during the hour before the funeral, which starts with a minute’s silence at 3pm on Saturday. You don’t need to toll for the full hour, just during the hour, e.g. up to 3pm. Half muffled preferred, but a single bell tolling slowly whether half muffled, fully muffled, or even unmuffled, will have the desired effect.
Initial announcement made on 9th April 2021
It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
Guidance for ringing for the Duke of Edinburgh
Following conversations with the Church of England today, half-muffled tolling or chiming of a single bell on Saturday 10th April 2021 at 12 noon, 99 times or up to 5 minutes is recommended following the announcement of the death the Duke of Edinburgh. The Cabinet Office has declared 8 days of official mourning, during which time any other ringing should be half-muffled and in accordance with current Covid-19 restrictions. Half-muffled tolling or chiming of a single bell is recommended on the day of the funeral. There is no special dispensation of current ringing guidance on Sunday.
Once again the Covid situation meant that the March 2021 numbers for the W&P 200 Club had to be drawn at home, by Robin Milford of Curdridge and Wendy Smart of Botley, and announced at the on-line Executive Committee meeting on Saturday 20th March 2021. We didn’t peek during the draw, honest! The results were as follows:
Ian M Redway
£49 will go to the Training and Development Fund from this draw. The next draw will be held at the Guild AGM – hopefully in person!
Simon Linford, President of CCCBR issued the statement below on 19th March 2021 regarding ringing on Easter Sunday:
Many incumbents are asking if some bells can be rung as part of their church or cathedral’s Easter celebrations, and bellringers are also keen to play part. The Central Council believes that bells are an important part of the act of worship, particularly on Easter Sunday. Unlike at Christmas, UK and Irish Governments have not introduced any relaxations of the rules on meeting indoors for Easter. Those rules are readily available and well understood.
We have established guidance on reducing the risk of ringing both to ourselves and each other, and most recently published our latest thinking on virus transmission and ventilation in ringing chambers, with chancel crossings at one end of the risk scale and small airless rooms at the other. We recommend considering all these factors when decided how many bells can be rung and for how long, in consultation with your incumbent, churchwardens or Cathedral Chapters.
One or more bells ringing on Easter Sunday will surely be appreciated by our churches and communities.
Please note, ringing should only take place after consultation with the incumbent and provided health and safety restrictions, ventilation etc. are adhered to. This should also include inspection of bells as many will not have been rung for over 12 months.
Wheatley is now integrated with Ringing Room, so the installation below using Python is no longer required. This should make it far easier to setup.
With the increased use of online ringing, you might be interested in Wheatley especially if you find yourself short of ringers or need some steady ‘ringers’ in your virtual band.
Hursley band report that have used it for a couple of weeks now, and think it is an amazing teaching aid to bolt on to Ringing Room while we cannot get everyone back into towers. Wheatley can be found at https://pypi.org/project/wheatley/ It has to be installed via Python (available from the Microsoft Store, then PIP, and some measure of courage and persistence is needed to find the right directory path before you can put in the correct Wheatley commands.
However having done that, Wheatley is pretty good at ringing all the bells you want it to in Ringing Room. Hursley have used it in their beginners handbells sessions, and it has significantly improved their tower bells sessions over the last couple of weeks. If you find Wheatley rings too fast, you can change the peal speed if you wish. Suggested speeds are: 6 bells – 2hr 55min 8 bells – 3hr 5min 10 bells – 3hr 30min 12 bells – 3hr 45min You can also set the Inertia setting to 1.0 – this means that Wheatley will wait for a human to ring, but then go back to the original speed setting, if you leave the Inertia setting off, Wheatley tends to get slower and slower.
The nice thing about using it for learners is that all the bells stay right, and you can have a session with one learner and a teacher who can “stand behind” the learner as the ringing goes on (and call bobs etc). Of course it is really very good for individual practice for tower and handbells for those of us who don’t have things like Abel.
Article supplied by Peter Hill.
Wheatley image supplied and used by kind permission of Ben White-Horne , creator of Wheatley.
Here is the fourth newsletter from the Survival and Recovery team – an ART, CCCBR partnership. It’s a one-stop shop for news – what’s happening and what we are planning to happen which complements the BellBoard Virtual Hub.
This issue leads on new initiatives and new pages added to the Survival and Recovery Toolbox. The toolbox contains a plethora of resources, case studies and opinion pieces for ringers, Tower Captains and Guilds and Associations.
The fund shall be known as the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers Bell Restoration Fund.
The fund shall be registered as a charity.
The object of this fund shall be to provide financial assistance by way of grants to Churches, within the Diocese of Winchester and Portsmouth, incurring expenditure on the provision, maintenance, improvement or acoustics of their bells and bell installations, or for the maintenance of the fabric of their towers and belfries, to enable their bells to be properly rung in full circle.
References to ‘the Guild’ shall mean the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers. References to ‘the Executive Committee’ shall mean the Executive Committee of the Guild.
The Trustees of the fund, referred to hereinafter as ‘the Trustees’, shall be the Master, the Honorary General Secretary and the Honorary General Treasurer of the Guild, and two Trustees, one from each Diocese, elected triennially by the Annual General Meeting of the Guild.
6. Honorary Independent Examiner
The Honorary Independent Examiner of the fund shall be the Honorary Independent Examiner for the time being of the Guild.
The fund shall be administered by the Trustees.
a. An application for or proposal to make a grant from this fund shall be considered only at a General Meeting of the Guild or at a meeting of the Executive Committee, provided at least one month’s notice in writing has been given of such application or proposal to the Honorary General Secretary.
b. Following notice duly given, the Trustees shall consider such applications or proposals and shall make recommendations to the meeting of the Guild or Executive Committee at which the application or proposal shall be discussed.
c. Grants shall be made from this fund only for the purposes outlined in the objectives in rule 3 above. A grant may be made, subject to the requirements of rule 8a above, if approved by two-thirds or more of those members of the Guild present and voting at a General Meeting of the Guild or at a meeting of the Executive Committee. To be eligible to vote on such matters, members must fulfil the requirements of the Guild on voting. The Trustees shall inform the Guild of any grants approved at a meeting of the Executive Committee at the next General Meeting of the Guild.
d. Following such approval a grant shall be made, except that the Trustees shall be given absolute discretion to reduce, but not to increase, a grant, in the exceptional circumstances that they unanimously feel it in the interests of the fund and of the Guild to do so. They shall inform the Guild of any such action at the next General Meeting of the Guild.
Any payments drawn on this fund under rule 8 above, or required under rule 11 below, shall be made over the signature of the Honorary General Treasurer for the time being and one other Trustee of the fund. No payment shall be made until the work is satisfactorily completed. All administrative and other expenses incurred in respect of the fund other than those specifically relating to the acquisition and realisation of investments shall be borne by the Guild.
a. The Honorary General Treasurer shall prepare accounts, consisting of a balance sheet at 31st December each year, and an income and expenditure account for the year ending on that date.
b. These accounts shall be presented to the Independent Examiner of the fund who shall satisfy himself as to the correctness thereof.
c. These accounts, duly independently examined, shall be submitted for approval to the Annual General Meeting of the Guild next after the 31st December to which the accounts of the fund have been prepared.
The Trustees acting together shall have the power to invest or otherwise deal with the assets of the fund and such sums as the members of the Guild shall contribute or from time to time decide to transfer to the fund, in such manner as they think fit in the best interests of the fund.
12. Dissolution of the fund
a. If it shall be decided to dissolve the fund, such decision being taken only at an Annual General Meeting of the Guild, one month’s notice having been given by the Honorary General Secretary to Tower Secretaries of such intent, the assets shall be disposed of to either or between both of the following:
i. To other charitable Bell Restoration Funds as the Guild may select
ii. To the Cathedrals of Winchester and Portsmouth for the religious and charitable purposes of the said Cathedrals.
b. In the event of the Guild becoming defunct, it shall be allowed for the Registrar of Charities after five years non-working of the fund to cause it to be dissolved and its assets applied as under rule 12 a ii.
13. Changes of rules
a. No amendment of, addition to, or deletion from these Rules shall be made which would cause the fund at any time to cease to be a charity in law.
b. No alteration or addition to the above Rules may be made except at a General Meeting of the Guild, or Special Meeting called for the purpose, when the number of eligible members voting in favour must be at least 20 and double those voting against the proposal. Notice of any such proposed alteration or addition must be given in writing at least two months before the date of the meeting to the Honorary General Secretary of the Guild, who shall inform all Tower Secretaries of the Guild of this proposal at least one month before the aforesaid meeting.
The third newsheet from the Survival and Recovery team – an ART, CCCBR partnership – has just been published. It’s a one-stop shop for news – what’s happening and what we are planning to happen – which complements the BellBoard Virtual Hub.
This issue features the Survival and Recover Toolbox which contains a plethora of resources, case studies and opinion pieces for ringers, Tower Captains and Guilds and Associations. It is a work in progress and if you think we’re missing something or have something that you think would be useful to others then please let us know.
Our first formal meeting of the year and since Lockdown was imposed will take place via Zoom, on Saturday 13th February. As you will see from the attached agenda we shall open the Zoom ‘room’ fifteen minutes early to allow people to sign in and be admitted. The link for the meeting is:-
or, if you with to sign in with the meeting id and passcode these are:- Meeting ID: 883 8896 9942 Passcode: 135246
I fear that because I can only compose in plain text the link will not work simply by clicking on it, but it should work if you copy it and paste it into your browser. The link will work, however, from the agenda. The accounts (long since signed off) and District Report will follow in due course, with my apologies for creating two instalments of the process of notification.
Advantages: We do get to meet; no travelling; your choice of sandwiches and cakes for the virtual ringers’ high tea.
Disadvantages: I have zero experience of hosting, we’ll just have to see how this goes; thank goodness Andrew knows what he’s about. No ringing … though I could set up a Ringing Room if anyone fancies catching hold afterwards.
The aim of the webinar is to help you to pick out your bell from the others and to count your place. We talk about ‘odd struckness’ and there are a series eight practical listening exercises to try. We also show you how you can practice honing your listening skills at home during the pandemic, whether this be on simulator software, CD’s and DVD’s, or virtual ringing with others using Ringing Room or other applications.
ART also issued some ideas from Matt Lawrence entitled ‘Top Tips for Survival and Recovery‘. This is available in two formats to download below. The full article is available in the lastest edition of Tower Talk
To give those who have not used Ringing Room before the opportunity to try Ringing Room.
Give those who attend the Education Committee webinars the opportunity to practise some of the things that have been covered in the webinars, whether this is improving their striking, learning a new method, or calling a bob for the first time.
Give those who are familiar with Ringing Room the opportunity of ringing with other experienced Ringing Room users, and perhaps try something more advanced.
Saturday 23rd January 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 6th February 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 20th February 2021 – 10.15am
We may add more dates later. There will also be opportunities to find out more about other virtual practices being held in your local District.
If needed, the Zoom Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422
The Zoom link will be open from 10.00am for you to log in, and the practice will start promptly at 10.15am. We intend to finish by 11.45am
We will split people into breakout rooms for the practice sessions and will give you the tower numbers for the Ringing Rooms on the day.
To save time with allocating people to the breakout rooms, it will be helpful if you could complete this short questionnaire, so that we know what you would like to ring: Link toBreakout Rooms Questionnaire.
The morning will be split into two 40 minute sessions in the breakout rooms, with a ten or 15 minute ‘coffee break’ in between. This will be an opportunity for people to swap breakout rooms, if they wish to do so.
If needed, the Zoom Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422
The Zoom link will be open from 10.00am for you to log in, and the presentation will start promptly at 10.15am. We intend to finish by 11.45am
We will be recording the webinar for publication on the Guild website afterwards. Therefore if you do not wish your name or face to appear in the Q&A sessions, please turn off your camera or change your Zoom name to something else e.g. John Smith
What will be covered?
The aim of the webinar is to help you to pick out your bell from the others and to count your place. We will talk about ‘odd struckness’ and there will be series eight practical listening exercises to try. We will also show you how you can practice honing your listening skills during the pandemic, whether this be on simulator software, CD’s and DVD’s, or virtual ringing with others using Ringing Room or other applications.
Between now and Easter we will be holding a series of virtual ‘Ringing Room’ practices to help you practise your listening skills and striking. If you would like to find out more, click this link.
Now that the vaccination programme has commenced, there is every prospect that ringing in our towers will start to return to normal later this year. However, any return is likely to be very gradual and a lot of things will have changed. It may take us several years of hard work to get back to where we were before.
Recruitment and training is going to be one of the key issues facing us. Many towers will have lost some of their band, and will need help to resume. In addition some of us will not have touched a rope for well over a year. The newer ringers will need to re-learn some of the basics.
Since last April some towers have been holding regular virtual pub sessions and quizzes using Zoom. Some have also been holding virtual practices using ‘Ringing Room’. Less experienced ringers who were perhaps just learning to ring rounds can now ring methods inside. But will they be able to do this in the tower?
However, for the next few months there is going to be little opportunity for tower bell ringing. Therefore, in this issue we include details of a programme of training webinars which we will be launching in January. These will take us up to Easter and help us prepare for the gradual return to our towers.
Guild and District Officers will be discussing what support to offer ringers and towers after Easter, and details will be published in our next issue. Please do send us articles for inclusion in the next issue, which will be published at the end of March. Articles should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you all had an enjoyable, if somewhat restricted and for some a little lonely Christmas. I know that some of us took the advantage of ringing tower bells on Christmas day or perhaps ringing handbells in the churchyard, a great way to remind the local congregation that ringing is still alive and not quite in hibernation.
There are many bands who are keeping closely in touch and active through social media, group video meetings and Ringing Room. If you are not, perhaps the New Year is the time to take the plunge and for ringers to reach out to other members of your band on a more regular basis. If you need help with this then please reach out to the communications committee comms&wpbells.org who will be able to give you some guidance. 2021 offers a brighter future to resume ringing at some stage and we need to be prepared to relight the touch paper when that happens.
I wish you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year.
Pete Jordan, Master
Introducing Steve Lamb – The New General Secretary
Steve Lamb took over as Hon Guild General Secretary in November. In this interview, he tells us a little about himself
Where did you learn to ring? I learned to ring at Elloughton in East Yorkshire – a 6cwt ring of 6 bells. I was appointed Tower Captain aged 15 as the former captain had to move away and we were short of ringers. It was surreal to lead the band as I was one of the youngest and one of my band was in her 80s. I really enjoyed teaching bell handling from scratch as well as helping the band be as musical as possible.
What age were you? I was 12 years old when I started learning to ring. I’m 48 now and aside from the pandemic I’ve rung without time away from ringing. I love ringing now as much as ever.
Where do you ring now? My home tower is Winchester Cathedral. They are my favourite ring of bells as I really enjoy their tone – especially the back 8. They are wonderful bells though can be tricky to ring really well. I’m happiest ringing Stedman on the backend though I still have a lot to learn. Ringing on higher numbers is a great deal of fun though Surprise Royal and Max often makes my brain hurt 🙂 I love the fellowship of our wonderful band and feel it’s a treat to ring there. The Cathedral is so full of history and I’m conscious that the ringing chamber has many stories to tell. I’m tower secretary and assistant steeple keeper. I really enjoy ringing regularly at several towers across the Guild and particularly appreciate the band at Hursley taking me under their wing.
Which tower would you most like to grab? Exeter Cathedral due to having heard such good things about them from friends who have rung there. I enjoy ringing heavy tenors.
What do you miss most in the current pandemic? Ringing Tower bells!!! Weekly video sessions with the bands I rang regularly with plus some International get togethers has really helped in the meantime. I’ve learned to enjoy RingingRoom – the regular “12 bell mayhem” session has been a highlight.
Favourite football team, and why? San Francisco 49ers – I’ve followed them since I was a teenager. I don’t follow football in England – probably as my nearest team when I was a child was Hull and at the time they languished towards the bottom of the league table. My spectator sport is Formula One – following Lewis Hamilton.
Favourite book/film? Apollo 13 – I’ve always loved Space and this story is one of conquering near impossible odds through ingenuity and teamwork.
Favourite TV series? The Crown
Favourite food? Roast Lamb with all the trimmings
Other hobbies/leisure interests? I’m a keen marathon runner and also enjoy trail running. I love taking photographs too – especially of landscapes and of people.
Training Webinars and Ringing Room Practices
On Saturday 14th November, Edmund Wratten delivered a webinar on ‘coursing order’ and how it can be used to help your ringing. There was an excellent turnout with 35 members Zooming in.
Following this success, a series of interesting webinars is planned for the period up to Easter:
Sat 16th Jan: Listening Skills. Andy and Sallie Ingram. Have you struggled to pick out your bell from the others? How do you know if it you or someone else that is wrong? How do you count your place, what is meant by ‘odd struckness’. All these and other mysteries will be revealed.
Sat 30th Jan: Learning methods I, Martin Daniels. This seminar will look at the different ways of learning methods. It will cover the circle of work, the blue line, place bells and how you can break this down into chunks of work that you can practice using Kaleidoscope sequences. Also covered will be place notation method construction, and how different methods are related to each other.
Sat 13th Feb: Calling simple touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles. Speakers to be Confirmed. Starting from the perspective of someone who has never called a bob or single before, we will cover the basics up to the stage where you can call a 120 of Plain Bob or Grandsire Doubles, and some tips how you can at least keep track of some of the other bells some of the time!
Sat 27th Feb: Learning Methods II. Martin Daniels. Following on from the first session, this webinar will look at the methods to try after you can ring Plain Bob Minor. It will explore St Clements and Double Oxford Minor and how these methods can help you develop skills which will lead on to learning and keeping right in more advanced methods.
Sat 13th Mar: History of bells and Ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses. Phil Watts. This webinar will look at some of the more interesting aspects of the subject and the work of the Diocesan Bells Advisers. It will also include details of plans to update the survey of bells in the Diocese and compile a photographic record of all the historic peal boards in our towers.
Sat 27th Mar. Recruitment and Retention – How to get more new ringers and how to retain them: Matt Lawrence. This workshop developed by the Central Council’s Volunteer and Leadership Workgroup will look at the problems facing us and ways in which we might overcome them.
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422
The link will be open from 10.00am for people to logon and perhaps have a chat. The presentation by the speaker will start promptly at 10.15am. Each presentation will be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. Depending on the content, the webinar will last between 60 and 90 minutes
Each Saturday between the webinars we will hold Ringing Room practices using Zoom. The link will be the same and we will split the group into a series of breakout sessions, each with an experienced group leader and helpers.
Whether it is practicing your listening skills, learning Plain Bob or Grandsire or a more advanced method, or calling your first bobs, you will be able to do this in one of the breakout rooms, in a supportive environment.
We may continue with these webinars and Ringing Room sessions for a while, possibly dovetailing this with establishing a network of towers across the Guild where you can go and attend training sessions targeted at helping you get back into ringing on real bells.
“Well done for maintaining interest, I enjoyed Edmund’s presentation and feel sure it will have helped a little”
Debbie Matthias, Blackmoor
“I learnt a lot from the coursing bells training, Zoom’s a good way to convey the theory and it’s great to make a little progress when we can’t ring real bells together—thank you for organising it!“
Cath Hart, Sherfield English and Romsey Abbey
Pre-recorded webinars, YouTube videos and on-line courses
There are a lot of on-line training resources and we have selected some of the best ones and sorted them, depending on your level of experience. Click on the hyperlinks below to find out more.
For newer ringers
Understanding call changes: This innovative on-line course delivered by Clare McArdle of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing aims to give you a good all-round knowledge of everything to do with call changes, from understanding what they are, to ringing and calling them. The course uses a ‘Moodle’ site to deliver a variety of content including interactive videos, presentations, worksheets and quizzes. There is also a domino game to play!
Exploring Devon call changes: Devon has a tradition of rounds and call-change ringing, performed by local teams to a high standard of striking. This presentation, delivered by Jon Bint of the Devon Association of Ringers, and a music graduate, explains how Devon call change ringing has evolved as a folk art from the mid 1600’s and compares the difference between it and scientific ‘method’ ringing as the same as that between Jazz and Classical music.
He explains the rivalry between the two systems which arose with the mid 19th century belfry reform movement, and then goes on to explain the key differences – the faster pace, the closed handstroke lead, and the importance of the raise and lower.
Abel Ringing Simulator:A series of YouTube videos with guidance for using the Abel ringing simulator software to practice your ringing on your PC or laptop. The videos are accompanied by notes from an online session delivered by Clare McArdle with additional guidance for using Abel effectively.
Towards better striking:In this 35 minute webinar recording,Tom Hinks focuses on how to achieve accurate striking, looking at various practice tools such as Abel and using sound clips to help you understand how to pick out different errors. He then goes on to discuss the confusing terminology that different ringers use and practical tips on how to make adjustments to your striking whilst ringing.
Virtual ringing – Zoom and Ringing Room workshop: An opportunity for those who would like to set up Ringing Room practices to try it out – with expert technical help. In the words of one user ‘it’s easier than you think!’ We’ve had some complete technophobes on the pilots who’ve left as Ringing Room converts. And it contains plenty of ideas about maintaining the interest of all the band. The workshop is a mix of theory and practical, supported by how-to videos and teaching tips gathered from experienced teachers.
The workshop is free and lasts approximately 90 minutes. This workshop will help you get the most out of lockdown ringing. And, of course, online ringing will still be useful even when we can start practising again. There’s a real sense that blended learning including tower bells, handbells and online ringing will be with us even when the pandemic is over. Follow the link to book a place.
For intermediate ringers
Doubles methods and variations: Steve Horton focuses on Plain Bob, Grandsire and Reverse Canterbury and how you can use different calls to produce a large number of variations on these base methods, quickly and easily extending your band’s repertoire, and adding interest.
How to learn methods:Tom Hinks talks about different ways of learning methods, such as the circle of work, blue lines, passing the treble, and place bells. Don’t worry if you are just embarking on learning your first few methods, everything is explained in simple terms. As Tom is a professional history teacher, he also explains some of the psychology, such as how frequency of repetition and being able to visualise a method in more than way can also help you master a method.
How to learn methods:Phil Ramsbottom highlights different ways to learn methods, and encourages looking for similarities and differences with other methods. He starts with Plain Bob Minimus and explains how this is related to Single Oxford Minor. Then how an understating of the secrets of method construction can be used to help you learn and ring Little Bob and Treble Bob, and how half-lead, double and reverse methods are related to each other.
Calling simple touches:Tom Hinks focuses on calling simple touches, looking at the basics of saying ‘go’, ‘that’s all’ and ‘stand’ through to calling Bobs and Singles in Plain Bob Doubles and Minor and Grandsire Doubles. He explains how different touches work and there are also some helpful resources discussed at the end.
First steps in calling bobs: This on-line course delivered by Nikki Thomas of the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich teaches you how to call bobs effectively and in the right place, and shows you how to construct touches using all the calling options for Plain Bob Doubles. By the end you should be confidently be able to call touches and call your first quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles. The ‘Moodle’ site has a variety of content including five tutorials, downloadable presentations, and interactive quizzes.
An introduction to handbell ringing: Simon Linford of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing uncovers the mysteries associated with learning to ring handbells. He explains that there are three basic patterns which can be used to ring a pair of bells to Plain hunt on six and plain courses and touches of Bob Minor. When you know the secrets, it’s not as difficult as it might seem at first sight.
Guild Training and Development Fund
Once the current pandemic subsides our thoughts will turn to recruiting and retaining new ringers. It could be 18 months before we can recruit new ringers again. In a normal year the Guild looses about 8% of our members through natural wastage, and a higher percentage of learners. Therefore in these exceptional circumstances we could loose 20 –25% of our ringers.
The Training and Development fund is there to help. The object of the fund is to provide financial assistance to individuals and groups incurring expenditure on: the provision of training, attending courses and events, training materials, payment of tutor expenses, educational assets and any other worthy project to enhance and enable the development of a ringer or group of ringers.
Perhaps you would like to buy some attractive leaflets or roller banners for a tower open day, or hire a mini-ring or mobile belfry for your local carnival or festival. You may also want to equip your tower with a simulator.
Applications. To be forwarded to Helen Woolford the Honorary Treasurer in writing or e-mail
Decisions. An application for a grant from this fund will be considered by the Officials, and their decision relayed to the applicant in a timely manner.
To qualify for a grant, applicants must be paid-up members or probationary members of the Guild.
Grants towards the cost of residential training courses will normally be awarded up to a maximum rate of 50% of the course costs and not exceeding £100.
The cost of Association of Ringing Techers (ART) teacher training modules and workshops may be awarded in full.
Depending upon the funds available and the number of applications , awards may have to be scaled down accordingly.
Only one award will be made per individual in any one calendar year.
Applicants will be asked to provide evidence of expenses/course fees.
In addition to the Training and development fund, Rule 16 provides that the“… First charge on District Funds (after administration) shall be for instruction (whenever possible) in change ringing…” so you can also apply to your District as well.
Some years ago Mark Esbester ran a 200 Club to raise money for the Guild Bell Restoration Fund, with around 170 subscribers. When he gave this up in 2016, I thought it would be useful to restart it but to raise money to improve the ringers rather than the bells.
The Guild set up the Training and Development Fund (TDF), with the object of giving grants to individuals or groups for training, attending courses, buying educational assets or other worthy projects to help in the development of ringers. The Fund officials are the Guild Master, Vice-Master, Honorary General Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. The 200 Club is run separately, solely to raise money for the Fund.
Club members pay a subscription of £12 per year, preferably by Standing Order to ease administration but alternatively by bank transfer, cheque or cash. This is spread over the year at £1/month. Draws are held three times a year, nominally at the March and November Executive Committee meetings and the Guild AGM. At each draw the total of members’ monthly contributions since the previous draw is split with approximately half going to the Fund, paid at the end of the year, and the remainder given out as six prizes.
The first gets 50% of the prize accumulation, the second 20%, the third and fourth 10% each and the fifth and sixth 5% each. To date £521 has been given out in prizes and £511 to the Fund. At present the Club has only 31 subscribers, so prizes are often small.
If you would like to join, and raise money for this worthy cause, copies of the form, plus a standing order details are on the W&P website: ‘200 Club’. The next draw will take place in March next year at the Guild Executive Committee meeting. Money received between now and the meeting will go into that draw. More members mean bigger prizes and more money raised for the TDF!
With the need to attract many more younger ringers, on-line safeguarding resources include:
Safeguarding in ringing: In this webinar, Dave Bassford and Ann White, safeguarding leads of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, and who both have substantial experience of safeguarding in their careers outside ringing, discuss DBS checks, L0, L1 and L2 safeguarding training, and the responsibilities of parish, tower, District and Guild officers. They also explain how to properly deal with incidents or concerns, and general ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’!
Levels C0 and C1 on-line safeguarding training: It is recommended that all ringers should complete these two simple on-line training courses which are available free of charge through the Church of England safeguarding training portal. The resources and training you can access here will equip you and your church to engage positively with the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults who ring at your tower, in both a practical and theologically informed way.
50 Virtual Ringing Things
Has been launched as part of the Central Council and ART’s Survival and Recovery Toolbox. The scheme is targeted at those who are new to ringing in the virtual world and is a series of challenges that you can try before we are able to go back to ringing in our towers. The challenges cover simulator software, online ringing, handbells and the enigmatically named tail ends (things that don’t fit into the other categories). When you’ve ticked off a challenge yourself, you can share your experience on the 50 Ringing Things Facebook group. Click on the image left to find out more and join.
The Charmborough Ring
The Charmborough Ring attracts a lot of attention at local carnivals and shows. It comes complete with a gazebo and roller banners to promote ringing. It has been used with a number of schools for activities days in the summer term, and although the bells are light, they are perfectly manageable.
We have found that young people can lean to handle a bell in about 15 minutes on them. Previously our main base was at Willingale, near Chelmsford in Essex, although since 2018 we have had a secondary base at New Alresford. Unfortunately Ian Kerwin from Willingale is no longer able to devote his time to the Charmborough Ring due to a change in his personal circumstances. Therefore our main base will now be at New Alresford.
We would particularly like to encourage towers in Hampshire and the surrounding counties to think about using us to help with recruitment, post pandemic. If you would like to hire the Charmborough Ring for an event later in the year, please visit our website.
Also, if you have a vehicle with a tow-bar capable of towing 2.1 tons and would like to help us take the ring out to events, please do get in touch. In 2019 the ring was used at eighteen different events. The more people that can help share the workload, the better. www.charmborough.org
The W&P needs YOUR help
Are YOU interested in helping the guild by supporting some of its committees? We have vacancies which need filling and would love to hear from you if you are interested. Please don’t be shy. You don’t need to be on the steep slopes of the red and black zones of ringing. You could be on the nursery slopes of the green zone, or gentle slopes of the blue zone, but you could have very useful skills from outside ringing that you could offer. If you want to know more please feel free to contact us to discuss the work of these committees further.
Guild CommunicationsCommittee. The primary role of the Communications Committee is to keep Guild Members up to date with what is going on in their Guild and Districts. The Committee works with the Principal Officers and District Officers promoting Guild and District events, practices, social events and relaying District, Guild and National Bellringing News. It is also available to help any tower with communications of their events as requested.
The Communications Committee is responsible for:
Maintenance of the WordPress website, Creating and archiving new pages and posts.
Maintaining the Guild membership and Communications database held on G Suite and Mailchimp.
Maintaining District email lists, approving new members
Guild EducationCommittee. The Education Committee exists to improve members’ ringing abilities and confidence in all practical and theoretical aspects of bell handling and method ringing. We arrange training days and evenings, designed to help students to enjoy their ringing, and to learn in a friendly, relaxed, but concentrated environment.
They are a mixture of theory and practice, geared to each student’s needs. Students are divided into small groups, led by Group Leaders who will assess what students can do; students won’t be pushed into attempting the impossible, but they will be encouraged to try things. Each group has a dedicated band of helpers so that, when students ring, they will be surrounded by helpful, friendly experts.
The committee will have an important role to play in helping ringing recover after the pandemic. If you would like to act as a committee member, or as a helper on our training sessions, contact Andy Ingram.
Belfry Stewardship Commttee. The committee exists to give advice about:
Bells and their fittings in any Guild tower;
To inspect and report on all completed bell restoration works subject to grants from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund, and
To continue the work of the Guild’s Bell Stock Survey.
In the late 1990s the Guild launched an ambitious pioneering project to compile a survey of every belfry in Hampshire with three or more bells. To date over ninety surveys have been completed, providing a wealth of valuable data on the condition of our towers and bells; However the project has only surveyed about half of the towers.
We would particularly like to hear from people with a background in Architecture, Surveying, Engineering or Construction who may be able to help with this and our other work. After the pandemic there will be many rings of bells which have not been rung and may need inspection, and we will also need to train new steeple-keepers. If you are interested, contact Martin Barnes.
The group is intended to be for more social communications and is not to be confused with the Guild Communications Database; that will be used for official Guild and District communications to let you know about Guild and District events. Access to the database is restricted on who can send out communications so Win-Port is an email group for all members to use to reach out to members.
Currently there are just over 200 of us in Win-Port which only represents a small proportion of the 1,400 members of the Guild. There are several members with more than one email address, and others that reside outside of the Guild area. It would be great to get more people added to this group and improve our communications between Guild members.
If you wish to be added, please visit hereto give your consent and I will add you to the group. You can only use it if you are a member of it, so please sign-up today! Don’t miss out!
Andrew Glover, Webmaster W&P
Bishop of Portsmouth retires
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster has announced that he is to retire as Bishop of Portsmouth. He will step down in April 2021. His wife, the Canon Sally Davenport, told worshippers at Holy Trinity and St Columba Churches in Fareham that she was also to resign as their Team Rector. The couple will retire together and live in Somerset.
Thank you to all those who have prayed for us and worked alongside us over the past 10 years, in the churches and communities of south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Sally and I will be sorry to leave so many valued friends and colleagues.”
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster has been Bishop of Portsmouth since 2010. He had grown up in the industrial West Midlands and in Surrey before studying economics at Durham and Manchester Universities and briefly working as an economics lecturer. He was ordained in 1980, served as a curate in Wolverhampton, and as chaplain of Wadham College, Oxford. He became vicar of Christ Church, Southgate, in London, in 1986 and then worked on the staff of St Albans Cathedral from 1994.
Bishop Christopher became the ninth Bishop of Portsmouth in September 2010, succeeding the Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Stevenson. Shortly afterwards, the Rev Sally Davenport was appointed as team rector of Holy Trinity and St Columba churches, both of which are near their home in Fareham.
District Annual General Meetings
The Basingstoke District virtualAnnual District Meeting will be held on Saturday Jan 16, 2021 at 3pm To join on Zoom, click this link: Link to Basingstoke District AGM
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 835 5007 7104. The Passcode is: 135246
The Winchester District virtual Annual District Meeting will be held on Saturday Feb 13, 2021 at 3pm To join on Zoom, click this link: Link to Winchester District AGM
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 883 8896 9942. The Passcode is: 135246
Bell Restoration Fund News
Ecchinswell, St Lawrence. Everything that everyone has worked so hard for is beginning to feel very real. For the last 8 years the trust has been fundraising and overcoming many obstacles to raise the very much needed money.
Then on 30th October, the three old bells were removed from the tower. The measuring up for the new framework is done, and very soon the six new bells will make their way to their new home and in the not to distance future we will hear their beautiful sweet sound. None of this would have happened without everyone who has supported us in some way and we thank you. The Guild is supporting this project with a grant of £2,500 from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund
Odiham, All Saints in the Basingstoke District. Whites of Appleton have overhauled the fittings of the six bells and strengthened the bell frame. Due to rot in some of the frame timbers, galvanised support steels have been installed under the frame and tie-rods fitted to reduce frame movement. The clappers and pulley units have been overhauled and the defective resin pads replaced. Rope guides have also been installed. This project has benefitted from a grant of £2,300 from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund
Silchester, St Mary. The five bells of Silchester also in the Basingstoke District have been turned and rehung on new fittings in the existing bell frame. The 2nd bell has been tuned. Rope guides have also been installed.
The work was carried out by Whites of Appleton and the project benefitted from a grant of £2,000 from the Guild Bell Restoration fund.
Hambledon, SS Peter & Paul. This ring of six in the Portsmouth District have been out of action following an accident when one of the gudgeons of the 2nd bell sheared and the bell was cracked in the crown as a result. The bells were last rehung by The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1978, so the fittings were generally in good order. The bells and their fittings were taken to John Taylor & Co in Loughborough where the second bell was repaired by specialist bronze welding to its crown. The headstocks of all six bells have had new gudgeons fitted by forge welding. New bearings have been fitted and the bells have now been rehung, and await lifting of the Covid restrictions. A £3,000 grant to this project was approved at the Guild AGM in October 2020.
Donate to the Bell Restoration Fund
If you wish to donate to the Bell Restoration Fund, please contact the Guild Treasurer email@example.com will provide you with the details required in order to make an electronic transfer. You will also be asked if you would like to gift aid your donation, and if so provide a gift aid form for you to complete. If you are a taxpayer, Gift aid enables us to reclaim an additional 25% of your donation from HMRC
If you wish to apply for a grant, when you have decided on a specific scheme send a completed Application Form to the Guild Secretary a minimum of one month prior to the AGM in June or the March and November Executive. Meetings. The Belfry Stewardship Committee can help you with advice from an early stage when you are considering options and putting a scheme together.
I write this with a heavy heart, and it is not made any easier knowing that most of you will be expecting it. The impact on ringing of the decisions of the government in England to introduce Tier 4 and to change Christmas bubble arrangements in other Tiers is as nothing compared with other impacts on people’s lives. Just when we thought we had turned the corner our lives need to be more disrupted.
The new rules for Tier 4 state that no non-essential mixing outside of households (other than in a support bubble) is allowed, with only necessary travel outside the house. Whilst public worship is still permitted, there is no mingling with anyone outside your household or support bubble, so ringing will not be allowed in Tier 4. As with the current Tier 3 guidance, tower bells could still be rung by members of the same household, single bells, or by the use of Ellacombe chimes. The Church’s and our view is that this is part of an act of worship.
We are not changing our guidance in other Tiers at this stage, although the increasing speed of transmission of this mutated virus may cause a review sooner rather than later. The Christmas easing and adoption of Tier 1 ringing guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be limited as far as possible – think very carefully about whether it is strictly necessary and consider which church services are most important. The guidance is not a boundary at which to push, and you or your band can decide not to ring for whatever reason. By following the basic principles of reducing travel out of the home and contact with other people as much as possible, we can protect ourselves and our communities. Face masks and social distancing only reduce the risk – they don’t remove it.
I read a lot of ringing social media comment at the weekend, and what was clear was that most ringers are perfectly capable of working out for themselves how national guidance translates to ringing. The most powerful contribution to the debate that I read came from a ringer who works in a hospital in the south west of England, and I hope he will forgive me for quoting him in full:
“Winter pressures within the NHS are tough at the best of times. The system is already creaking under the pressure, and the graphs strongly suggest hospitalisation and deaths are going to increase dramatically. I would STRONGLY URGE anybody thinking of stretching/breaking the rules/advice to get their fix of ringing to reconsider – now is not the time and all you are ultimately doing is risking lives and putting my colleagues and other NHS staff under extreme pressure and risk.”
The one saving grace is that it appears that the end is in sight. Whilst we have some difficult months ahead of us, the promise of a vaccine is now real, and it is highly probable that the course of spread of this pandemic will be fundamentally changed in the first half of 2021. In terms of opening up more ringing, having published guidance on children’s groups, our next effort is going to be looking at more open ringing settings including chancel crossings and ground floor rings, where our setting for ringing is similar to the more open settings enjoyed by singers. Equally though, the virus mutation may make things worse yet in some areas.
The President of the Central Council would usually finish a message written on 21 December by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, but that somehow doesn’t seem quite right. So instead I will say that I hope that whatever you do, and whoever you manage to be with, you can stay safe and remain positive.
The decision has been made to move back the date for the Alton & Petersfield District AGM to the 23rd January 2021. Minutes of the previous AGM will be sent out to your tower contacts in the very near future.
If you would like a copy sent to you individually, please let me know.
Hoping you all have a safe and relaxing Christmas and, if your plans have been affected by recent tier changes, that you can still find ways to stay in contact with those who can no longer be with you in person.
For the last nine months, there has been very limited activity, and many ringers may not even have touched a bell-rope in this time. Even if they have, they will not have rung any methods.
However with the roll out of the vaccination programme, there is the real prospect that from late spring or early summer next year we will gradually be able to return to ringing all the bells and holding practices in our towers. But we still have this winter to get through.
Things have been happening behind the scenes to prepare for the recovery and we plan to issue regular District newsletters with news and interesting items to help keep members engaged and informed.
In this issue we include details of a programme of webinars which the Guld Education Committee will be launching in January.
During lockdown a number of District towers have been holding regular virtual pub sessions and quizzes. using Zoom. Some have also been holding virtual practices using Ringing Room, one of these being the Mayflies group which Micki Nadal has written about on page 2
Please do send us articles for inclusion in the next issue, which will be published at the end of March. Articles should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas ringing relaxation
The Central Council of Church Bellringers have agreed special arrangements for ringing over the Christmas period with the House of Bishops Recovery Group. Essentially between 23 and 27 December no matter which tier, we can ring for 15 minutes, provided that the ringers are 1metre + socially distanced, and those not in the same bubble are wearing face masks. Further details on the Central Council Website
Have you subscribed?
Around 50% of Winchester District members have now subscribed to the Guild’s new membership and communications database. We are now able to send this newsletter to each of you direct instead of it being ‘cascaded’ via tower correspondents and posted on tower notice boards. This is not practical in the current pandemic.
However, as we are only reaching about half of the membership, do tell your friends about this newsletter and pass a copy on if they have not seen it.
On Saturday 14th November, Edmund Wratten delivered a webinar on ’coursing order’ and how it can be used to help your ringing. There was an excellent turnout with 35 members Zooming in.
Following this success, a series of interesting webinars is planned for the period up to Easter. These will be held on
Sat 16th Jan
Sat 30th Jan
Sat 3th Feb
Sat 27th Feb
Sat 13th Mar
Sat 27th Mar
The final programme and joining details will be published in the next Guild Newsletter, to be issued at the beginning of January. Topics will include
Listening Skills: Have you struggled to pick out your bell from the others? How do you know if it you or someone else that is wrong?
Ways of Learning Methods: This will cover the circle of work, the blue line and place bells, and how you can break this down into chunks of work that you can learn.
Calling simple touches: Starting from the perspective of someone who has never called a bob before, we will cover the basics up to the stage where you can call a 120 of Plain Bob or Grandsire Doubles.
History of bells and ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses: This webinar will look at some of the more interesting aspects of the bells in our towers.
Recruitment and Retention – how to get more new ringers and how to retain them: This workshop developed by the Central Council’s Volunteer and Leadership workgroup will look at the problems facing us and how we might overcome them.
The webinar link will be open from 10.00am for people to logon and perhaps have a chat. Each presentation will start promptly at 10.15am, followed by the opportunity for questions and answers.
Depending on the content, each webinar will last between 60 and 90 minutes
If you’ve not already done so, complete our questionnaire and we will make sure you receive details of the upcoming webinars.
Each Saturday between the webinars we will hold Ringing Room practices using Zoom and breakout rooms, so that people can practice the topics that have been covered in the previous weeks, with an experienced band in a supportive environment.
Restoration at Twyford
The £91,000 scheme to carry out a major overhaul of the frame and fittings, including recasting of three of the bells is being supported by a grant of £7,500 from the Guild’s Bell Restoration Fund. The work will be carried out by White’s of Appleton.
However, Jennie Richardson reports that, because of Covid-19, fund-raising has ground more or less to a halt, so the start date for the works is not yet certain.
Currently, because of the pandemic, most Sundays just one bell is chimed, although the band did manage to ring three bells in memory of William Davies, who was on horseback and lost in fog on the local downs until he heard the bells ringing.
His will of 1754 left money to the ringers to ring for 30 minutes on 7 October each year.
Towards the end of May this year, when the Mayflies were emerging from the River Test in droves and buzzing round my head in the garden, I decided to take the plunge and set up a virtual tower in Ringing Room.
I didn’t want to call it after a particular tower, as I realised virtual ringing would not be for everyone and I wanted to attract people from all over the place, which seemed to me one of Ringing Room’s advantages.
The Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge on Facebook showed that evening sessions often experienced some time lag, so 5pm seemed a good time – before people’s supper and the evening online rush. With the mayfly hatch in full swing, the name seemed a ‘no-brainer’.
So, at the beginning of June and with the help of fellow ringer Derek Smith, we had a go, just the two of us and then let various ringing friends know that Mayflies would be open for business Monday to Saturday at 5pm. We were immensely lucky that our brilliant District Ringing Master Edmund Wratten joined us to give us direction and advice from his base and our former Kings Somborne Captain Sue Spurling joined us from her new home in Sussex.
With old ringing friends from Kings Somborne, Braishfield, Sparsholt, Winchester and Houghton and new ringing friends from London, Epsom and Staffordshire we can generally count on between 6 and 10 people each day, although if there are only 4 or 5 initially, we’ll ring Minimus methods.
A little gossip tops and tails our practices, but on the whole ringing is what we are there for. For our local band the advantages of Ringing Room are huge – we normally ring at six-bell towers, so the chance to practice and learn 8, 10 and 12 bell methods is fantastic.
We have really progressed with learning touches and for those prophets of doom, who say that in the ‘real’ ringing world we will all be back to square one, I have this to say: the brain will, I’m sure, retain a lot of what we are learning about ‘what to do instinctively at a bob or a single’ and although we may have to relearn straightforward bell handling and using rope sight (and we fully appreciate this may take some time), when we are settled into a plain course of Bob Doubles and a bob is called, we will remember what we are supposed to do.
I don’t see Ringing Rooms just as a lockdown facility either – it will be just as useful for learning methods when things are back to normal, but with the added advantage of being able to practice in a real environment too.
Just as lockdown changed our lives, I believe Ringing Room has changed ringing practices too and given those of us lower down on the learning curve the opportunity and the confidence to metaphorically punch above our weight and try things we would be light years from trying in a real tower.
Kings Somborne and Mayflies Towers
Ropley Church is being rebuilt
In June 2014, our beautiful church was destroyed by fire. Two of the bells were cracked, one beyond repair and will need to be recast. Now at last, the rebuilding of the church is well under way, with the new roof installed and new tower built!
The rebuilt St. Peter’s will provide a wonderful venue for services as well as a place for the Village to gather. The space created will complement other village facilities and will be widely used by the village school, social clubs, concerts and meetings seven days a week, not only an hour on Sundays.
St. Peter’s was insured by Ecclesiastical Insurance for £2,854,962. Thus far a substantial sum in addition to this has been successfully raised. The current shortfall for Phase 1, to achieve a useable building was £201,500 (October 2019). Phase 2 fundraising for stained glass windows, bells, clock, furniture etc will follow.
Work undertaken so far includes the installation of the base of the new bell-frame by Matthew Higby & Co., and an order has been placed to recast one bell and weld and heat treat the other five bells.
Because of the damage done by the fire, the bells will be hung within an independent steel structure within the walls, and the ringing room will move to the ground floor level.
The bells will be the largest hung in a free standing tower, but we are assured that they will handle well!
Carol Ward (nee Herring) RIP
I have, I am afraid, sorrowful news to impart.
Carol served many years as the tower correspondent for the Candover Valley Ringers, and hers was a welcome presence at District meetings – including last December’s carol service at Northington, at which she – with the rest of the CVR – was a most gracious host.
Carol was also a doughty campaigner in the cause of combatting the cancer which eventually took her. I shall miss Carol very much indeed, as I am sure many in the District will.
News from around the towers
Hursley: The band have been meeting for a Zoom call and quiz on Tuesday evenings as well as other chats, ringing room sessions and quarter peal attempts on other evenings. As tiering allows we have been exploring our Minimus range on 1, 4, 6, 8 of the 12 and that we have been using the 14 on Ringing Room to practice our handbell carols. The band are also holding a virtual Christmas dinner on 18th December. Peter Hill.
Lockerley: Have been meeting on Zoom on Thursday evenings for a chat followed by some virtual ringing and also on Sunday mornings. During the summer months the band were also able to meet socially distanced outdoors. Gary Davies.
Old and New Alresford: Have been meeting fortnightly on Friday evenings for virtual pub and quiz sessions on Zoom. We have installed extract fans in both towers to improve the ventilation which has enabled us to ring some of the bells on Sunday mornings and for a wedding, before we entered Tier 2.
Romsey Abbey: The bells are sounded on Sundays and for other special occasions by the Ellacombe apparatus, so most of the band have not rung a bell for nine months. It was fortunate we decided not to remove the Ellacombe apparatus when the bells were rehung in 2007!
Sherfield English: Various numbers of bells have been chimed for services by single households in the band. We have run our regular Thursday training sessions with the Romsey improvers using Ringing Room and Zoom. Nearly all are now able to ring inside to Plain Bob Triples and Cloister Triples without crib sheets! Using visual aids most can ring Stedman.
The new learning environment has encouraged counting places and listening to the ringing as well as upskilling internet knowledge. More ringers have run the practice and called touches. We have also learnt about and used place notation and coursing order, sparked by Edmund’s webinar. Ringing Room allows us to go past Sherfield 8 bell restrictions – if we have lots of ringers we open up a second tower so everyone rings more. We also have completed plain hunt Maximus (16 in here we come!).
We have just realised that we should achieve ringing all the methods set out in Martin’s 2020 wish list without attending the tower! Martin Daniels.
Sparsholt: The band have been meeting every Monday since first lockdown in March. At first it was a weekly quiz evening with attempts at Ringing Room on Tuesday evenings. We also met socially outdoors in the warmer summer months, for a drink and also a picnic. Since September we have met virtually in the Ringing Room with the sessions led by Edmund Wratten. Anyone wishing to join us on Monday evenings at 7.15pm would be very welcome. Jenny Watson.
Winchester Cathedral: The band have been meeting for a chat most weeks and when tiering permits have been ringing six bells for fifteen minutes before Sunday services. The large ringing room helps with social distancing. To keep the fellowship up some members have also been meeting up for walks and cycle rides. Steve Lamb.
W&P Diocesan Guild
Muster, Hants & Wilts.
Monday, 7 December 2020
1260 Bob Minor
1–2 Mary Edelsten (Winchester)
3–4 Ian Redway (New Alresford)
5–6 Gary Davies (Winterslow)(Cond)
First virtual quarter peal: 1-2
A new ring of eight for the District
When we retired to New Alresford three years ago, we had intended putting the Charmborough Ring in the loft at the back of our garage, when not in use.
However, we soon came to the conclusion that hosting it up and down was not something that we wanted to do regularly.
Instead Matthew Higby has recently cast us a new ring of eight, with a tenor of about ¾ cwt in E♭ which will be permanently hung in our garage in the spring
Although light, they will have galvanised steel wheels and handle like bells considerably heavier than they are.
The intention is that besides being available for quarters and peals, we will also run regular training sessions – a bit like Tulloch and Alderney. We also plan to work with local schools to help bring fresh blood into our local band.
As for the Charmborough Ring, they will remain available to help with recruitment post-pandemic. If you would like to hire them for an event next year, please visit the website: www.charmborough.org
Roger & Cathy Booth
Greetings to all members in what has been a very difficult and challenging year due to the pandemic.At the ADM last February I indicated that I would not be seeking re-election as chairman in February 2021.
Please feel free to contact me either by phone or email if you are interested in filling this post.It would be good if someone did come forward as I feel the district would benefit from a fresh face.
I am willing to continue as Executive Council Representative if re-elected.
As I write there is hopeful news of vaccines. I hope that next year we shall be, in time, to be able to meet and ring more normally.
May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2021. Stay well and safe.
District Annual General Meeting – Saturday 13th Feb 2021
The District Annual General Meeting will take place on Saturday 13th February 2021 at 3pm by Zoom teleconference. To join, click on this link:
This meeting will include the presentation of officers reports and the District Accounts for 2020.
At the meeting nominations will also open for all the officer posts in the District. John Croft has indicated that he does not wish to stand again for the post of Chair, and Bruce Purvis does not wish to stand again as Secretary. We also need to fill the vacant Newsletter Editor post, to help the Guild Comms team.
The District relies on volunteers such as John and Bruce to carry out all of its work. It’s not what the District does for you and your tower, it’s what you can do for the District, and there will be a lot to do to help ringing recover after the pandemic. Please do consider how you can help. The more people that share the load, the better.
Following a decision at the Guild AGM in September, no subscriptions will be collected next year, membership will last two years and a combined Annual Report will be published in 2022 for 2020 and 2021.
Copy for the next issue of this newsletter should reach us by Sunday 14th March email@example.com
Below is the latest guidance taken from the CCCBR website on ringing over the Christmas period for all tiers. Ultimatley the decision is with your incumbent, so please make sure you have their permission if you are proposing to ring.
We have agreed with the House of Bishops Covid recovery team that an exception should be made to the current ringing guidance across all Tiers in England for those bands that wish to ring for services over Christmas, in the period where the household restrictions are also being lifted. This will allow bells to be rung for key services including those on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and also for the 6pm Christmas Eve ringing which has been widely suggested.
This is on the assumption that the announcement on 16th December does not introduce some catastrophic restriction on the opening of churches (which seems unlikely). We are still consulting on whether this can be adopted in other countries in the British Isles which may be subject to other restrictions.
The current guidance for ringing in Tier 1 will be adopted for towers in all three Tiers just for Christmas, that being to ring up to six bells, with 1m+ separation and using facemasks. The recommendation is to ring for 15 minutes but to assess your tower’s characteristics. Ventilation is key to reducing the risk of aerosol transmission.
There is guidance here for you to assess the risk of your own ringing chamber and for members of your band to assess their own personal risk (see towards the bottom of the page for Guidance Notes). No doubt many ringers (especially those at special risk personally or in their family) will decide not to ring, just as many towers will lack sufficient ventilation to sufficiently mitigate risk even for this one-off occasion.
You may ask why it is suddenly ‘safe’ to ring at Christmas when it wasn’t before and it won’t be again afterwards. Risk of transmission is closely correlated with the amount of contact with others. With ringing having been restricted for so long, this limited ringing on one or two occasions at one of the most important times of the year for the Church does not represent a major absolute risk, particularly as some ringers will be in church anyway. It is also pragmatic given some ringers will want to ring anyway and will be under pressure from their incumbents. However, repeated ringing would increase the risk substantially, and we are not suggesting that this should now restart.
We may not be far away from ringing being less restricted. As one member of the Covid recovery team said “with the light at the end of the tunnel let’s not fall down a sink hole”.