When my parents chose the name Simon it was because it was unusual. Lots of other parents around the time thought the same and there was a bulge in Simon production, with three in my class at Junior school. But we are now a long way past Peak Simon, and the name languishes outside the top 100, replaced with the likes of Maverick (a famous Tomcat pilot at 73) and Leonardo (a famous turtle at 93). Bellringing Simons are a select yet strong group, with some perseverance enabling us to ring a quarter of Little Bob 14 in hand on Ringing Room. A last hurrah for the Simons on the platform? No – which shows how Ringing Room is going to continue to have a place in bringing groups of ringers together who might not otherwise meet easily and help develop progress in change ringing. As well as keeping many of us sane for the last year, Ringing Room and Ding’s ability to bring ringers together will be one of their legacies.
One of the joys of ringing is that so many resources are developed and provided by so many different people and without charge. Every so often something that is valued is at risk or possibly even lost. So we have a team led by the T&T workgroup looking to identify all the software programmes and assets that we as ringers care about and seeing what can be done about making sure they are as safe as they can be. What would you miss if it went down? I am not missing the Bellringers Facebook group, but would miss BellBoard, Ringing Room, and the Changeringing Wiki, which is the easiest place I can find my PPE articles. You can email the team at email@example.com and watch out for their forthcoming survey.
Ringing for the birthday of the NHS was well supported and covered by the media – quite a few towers managed to get TV coverage. We had been a bit sceptical when Bruno Peek had first mentioned this about nine months ago. The practicalities of ringing 73 times were mere detail when we didn’t really know what sort of ringing would be possible. Thanks to all who took part and registered their events. It’s supposed to be annual now, but I bet this is something that will wear out.
Unlike the Fourth of July, which will no doubt last forever! Washington ringers celebrated Independence Day with a full peal at the Cathedral – the first ten bell peal outside Australia since March 2020. Five years to the big 250 – the US Semiquincentennial Commission has already started a countdown https://america250.org/
Sadly, questions on whether it was appropriate to dedicate ringing performances to England’s win over Italy in the Euros became academic late on Sunday night.
Meanwhile quite a few peal bands are lining themselves up to ring peals on 19 July, on the reasonable expectation that restrictions are going to get relaxed. When I received an invitation for a 9am start for a peal of Bristol Maximus I assumed it was a joke! But no – some people really are that keen, and will be reminding local populations that have missed their bells quite how long they sometimes get rung for.
Personally, I am going to stick to handbell peals for a while. Making a late entry into the world of handbell ringing has made me realise how much more difficult it is to learn when you are older. For all those who have learned young and found making progress in ringing easy, discovering that learning can be quite hard when you’re just the wrong side of 50 is a good lesson.
I still haven’t finished the Cornwall edition of the Ringing World, despite it being kept handily in one of our rooms of quiet contemplation. Presumably we are now working on County issues and will be working north? I hope Rutland is going to manage a complete issue. I was fascinated by the article in the Cornwall edition about Rounds ringing. I was aware it was ‘a thing’ but not exactly what people do, or that there was a complete society dedicated to it.
I also liked the alternative vocabulary. I would be interested to know of regional variations in other distant outposts of the Exercise. When I learned to ring at Cannock the signal to start ringing down was “Look to the fall”. Who else says that? I only realised that wasn’t universal when I said it in Essex and no one knew what I was talking about.
Picking up on a thread from Ringing Chat (sent to me by my in-house social media monitoring team) there is a lot of discussion about how churches might be used more. In my business life I am close to this subject as I am working with the Church of England on the development potential of church buildings. Churches are often simply too big, and using the space better, or using less of it, is high on the agenda (see what the CCT did at All Souls Bolton – perhaps the best example of creative reuse). If a building can still maintain some worship space but with the rest put to good use this would be a welcome outcome. Bells are now seen as part of the solution. If we can attract visitors and use for buildings that is welcomed.
Once a year the Council has a meeting with Historic England and the Church Buildings Council to catch on various matters churches and bells. The relationship with them is as strong as ever but it was still useful last week to discuss such matters as church closures, historic bell frames, progress on the Dove database project, the Clerical Guild’s proposed ‘Theology of Ringing’, and how ringing is part of the fabric of the church.
Diana Evans of Historic England followed up with “How positive the CCCBR’s approach is. The amount of energy you are all putting into recovery from the pandemic is amazing. Bell ringing is an important part of the life of many historic places of worship and Historic England is keen to encourage the continuation of this tradition.”
Simon Linford President CCCBR
Content taken from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Following discussion with the House of Bishops Recovery Group, there is not going to be any change to the published guidance for England for the four week extension to Step 3 conditions. They were of the opinion that given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, any relaxation would be foolish and contrary to all messages being given by the Government and its scientific advisers. We only face a four week extension, and the majority of bands have shown that it is possible to get service and practice ringing going again under the current constraints, and even ring quarter peals.
Risks are not the same for all bands or all ringing environments. Although those who have had two vaccinations may feel that the risk to them is very low, which of course it is, to give guidance that is different for one set of ringers as opposed to another would go against the inclusiveness of ringing.
There are two elements of the mitigation of virus spread that are not guidance but are mandatory – the Rule of Six indoors and the requirement to wear face coverings in a Place of Worship. Those two elements are not open to interpretation. All the rest is guidance, and guidance is there to enable individuals and bands to make informed decisions as to what is right for them.
An update to the one page summary guidance can be found here. The only changes to this from version 1.02 is that the word ‘around’ has been added before ’45 minutes’ to emphasise that this has a bit of flexibility based on your tower’s characteristics and ventilation (see the footnote). Also a bit of clarification on the ‘or two households’ alternative to the Rule of Six. Two households means for instance a household of four and a household of three could meet together, but not five unconnected ringers plus a household of another two. It’s probably quite unlikely in ringing context.
Finally, when we draw comparison between what we can do in church towers with what we might be able to do in our own homes, in the pub, or in crowded sports stadia, remember that we are not ringing in those environments but in churches. We need to respect the right of the Church to want to protect its volunteers. If, on the other hand, you have someone wanting to impose greater restriction than current guidance suggests, we will be happy to support you in your attempts to open up your ringing, within the current guidance and what your band is comfortable to do.
The latest draw for the W&P 200 Club, raising money for the Training and Development Fund, was scheduled to take place after the Guild AGM on Saturday 12th June. However, as the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic forced the AGM to be held on-line the draw was instead held at the Curdridge practice (4 bells only!) on Monday 7th June. The next draw is intended to be held at the November Executive Committee meeting, so to even up the prize money between draws the money used was that allocated for April to July income. The results were as follows:
Draw date: 07/06/2021
Draw for April to July money
Piers Armstrong 1
Money to Training & Development Fund from this draw is £54.
Prizes for this draw, and those not yet sent out from the March draw, will be distributed in due course – hopefully in person soon!
Tower Captain, David Lay, with gladness, has informed us that their Tuesday evening ringing practices, are resuming from Tuesday 15th June 2021 from 8:00pm until 9:00pm; followed afterwards, by the usual visit to The Woolpack.
Please support your district’s local tower practices.
While we’ve all missed being able to do much serious tower bell ringing over the last year, many of us have made use of the opportunities provided by the Ringing Room platform to stay in touch with each other, practice a different kind of ringing and maybe even learn some new methods.
I’m sure we are all looking forwards to getting back to real bells, but we thought it might be fun for the bands who have been using Ringing Room to get together and have an informal virtual ringing competition.
The idea is to run it like a traditional striking competition, but with the judges and participants joining via Zoom and naturally the ringing will be using Ringing Room. We will send a Zoom meeting link out closer to the date, but if you have been using Ringing Room during the lockdown (either regularly or only just now and then) please get together with your fellow ringers and put in a team.
It’s intended to be a bit of fun and not get too serious, so no prizes, cups or certificates. However it wouldn’t be a striking competition without some rules, so we have put together a set that try and adapt the traditional format into a virtual event. Please feel free to ask questions or comment.
All ringers in each team must be Guild members and should have been ringing together on Ringing Room during the lockdowns.
A participant may ring in more than one team, provided that the number of participants doing this is not excessive.
No more than half of the members of a team can ring in another team
Each team shall contain 6 ringers, each ringing the same single bell throughout the test piece.
Each team may have four minutes ringing in which to prepare for the test piece. The treble bell shall then be rung several times to indicate that the team is about to start the test piece.
The competition ringing will comprise 120 changes in any Doubles or Minor method(s) of the team’s own choice, rung on the Tower Bell setting of Ringing Room.
The test piece will be rung with a whole pull of Rounds at the start and with no additional Rounds at the end. The initial Rounds will not be judged, but the final row will be judged.
Each team will be able to communicate with each other via Zoom during the practice ringing and the test piece, however they will be placed in a separate “break-out room” so their conversation will not be overheard by the judge or by other teams.
The judge shall have discretion on how to score the test ringing and how much allowance, if any, to make for Internet-related issues. A team will be allowed to restart the test piece if a significant technical issue occurs (for example a ringer getting disconnected from the Internet during the test piece).
The decision of the Committee shall be final in any matter concerning the conduct of the competition and the interpretation of these rules.
The Winchester & Portsmouth Diocesan Guild AGM 2021 will be held on Saturday 12th June at 10.15 a.m. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic the AGM will be held online using the Zoom Pro platform. You will need to register in advance using the link:
Instructions on how to register are available to download below.
The agenda, minutes of the last meeting, and officer and committee reports for 2020 are available here: http://www.methods.org.uk/files/210612.bulk.pdf. This version will be kept up-to-date with any additional agenda items or supporting papers.
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.
Many thanks and best wishes, Tony Smith. Guild Minute Secretary on behalf of the Guild Honorary General Secretary.
Formal Statement from The Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
We are aware that communications have been circulated on email and to ringing organisations by one of our members, Mr. S. Castle.
We wish it to be known and understood that the correspondence from Mr. S Castle, supposedly under the Guild’s name, was prepared and issued by him personally, our Guild had no prior knowledge of it and the contents of his communications were not agreed or authorised by us. The Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers accepts no responsibility or liability for his correspondence or the accuracy or validity of the information contained therein.
Local email posts by Mr. S. Castle had made allegations about Guild members. Whilst we value free speech, personal attacks are unacceptable. A statement was issued by us, the Guild’s Principal Officers, to all our Guild members, encouraging and requesting responsible and courteous use of social media and email, as misuse could only be viewed in an extremely poor light, not only by us but in the wider world within which we all operate.
We respect the fact that all members of our Guild are volunteers, we are extremely grateful for the hard work, time and dedication that they invest in ringing and for ringers’ benefit and it is important we continue to work together amicably to support and encourage our fellow members, committees and officers.
As a Guild we continue to commit to dealing with issues raised by any of our 1,500 members as courteously and effectively as possible, using the democratic processes that have stood us in good stead for many years.
Pete Jordan – Master Allan Yalden – Vice Master Steve Lamb – Hon General Secretary Helen Woolford – Hon General Treasurer
Principal Officers of The Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers 16th May 2021
Many of us enjoy using social media and email to share news, stories and useful information, particularly during the pandemic whilst contact with others has been restricted. In the same way the Guild social media and email accounts have been used to share our news, photographs and the odd joke to keep us all in touch, smiling and to break the monotony.
However, occasionally, posts on the Guilds social media feeds or email groups have taken on subjects that some followers have found rather uncomfortable, with criticism aimed at fellow members. In today’s society, this type of interaction is viewed as unacceptable, and depending on content, can be defined as trolling, bullying or harassment. The Guild does not wish to prevent freedom of speech: social media is ideal for sharing news and legitimate comment, but direct attacks are not acceptable.
Please be considerate when using any of the Guilds Facebook, Twitter, email forums or any other Guild social media accounts.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”.
England comes out of lockdown on Wednesday this week and enters the three Tiers system. The rules in Wales have not changed since 9th November and the Tiers will not apply. In Scotland, Covid restrictions are governed by five Protection Levels. Central Council guidance is now moving to respond to the Tiers and Protection Levels and so will now be different in England, Wales and Scotland.
First the good news and perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel for other areas. Just before we went into lockdown for the second time a month ago, we had reached agreement with the House of Bishops Recovery Group to drop down to 1m+ distancing, and then introduce local risk assessment based on the characteristics of the ringing environment and also risk assessment based on personal circumstances. Our guidance is that in Tier 1 this can now happen, although at first we only recommend ringing for 15 minutes until ventilation in towers is better understood. However look to the end of this statement for our plans in that regard.
In Tiers 2 and 3 we are still recommending that we stick to the government’s guidance that is the same for both Tiers, and that is that “No mixing of households indoors, apart from support bubbles.” As was discussed when the lockdown started, one can argue the definitions of mixing, interacting and mingling, some might even try and argue that ringing is an act of worship or even employment, but the clear intention of the public health experts is to reduce interactions as much as possible so that we get through the winter without another wave of infection. That restricts ringing in Tiers 2 and 3 to families that live together and other households, or the ringing of single bells as currently.
The opportunities for handbell ringing will improve over the lockdown conditions. In Tier 1 we revert to the ‘Rule of 6’ which allows six people to meet indoors or outdoors, so handbell ringing is possible (but stay distanced and ventilate well). In Tier 2 a maximum of six people can meet in any outdoor setting only, including a domestic garden, so provided you are warm enough, socially distanced handbell ringing is viable. Tier 3 is slightly more restrictive in that mixing of households outdoors needs to be in a public space, e.g. parks, public gardens or churchyards. Again this give the opportunity to meet perhaps outside the church and ring handbells. Not that you should not travel from a higher tier to a lower tier for handbell ringing.
Wales does not have the Tier system but does have social distancing of 2m and a recommendation that indoor gatherings other than with your household or extended household is avoided. However, the Church in Wales has specifically recognised ringing in its guidance for places of worship and specifically permits ringing as follows:
“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 diff erent entry points or staggered arrival times. Bellringing arrangements should comply with guidance available from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers at https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/ ”
Our guidance in Wales is therefore that ringing should still follow 2m social distancing and be restricted to 15 minutes. Ringing for longer could come following the ventilation trials explained below.
Ringing handbells outdoors in a public space is allowed subject to the overall guidance on social distance and avoiding large gatherings. Handbells in gardens is allowed however there is a rule that only householders and their one extended household can meet in their gardens. However that still might present some handbell opportunities on warmer days.
There is an overall social distancing restriction of 2m between people (not ropes) which is a key driver for practical ringing.
In the top Protection Level 4, ringing has stopped because public worship has stopped. However, in all other Levels ringing is possible provided the social distancing guidelines are possible and duration restricted in accordance with previous guidance.
Ringing handbells outdoors is allowed subject to the overall guidance on social distancing. In Levels 2 3 and 4 up to six people from two different households could ring handbells outdoors, subject to social distancing and woolly hats. In Level 1, that increases to eight people from three households. The household restrictions do not apply to 12-17 year olds.
A summary of all the different levels and guidance can be found on the main website here, which is also linked from the Virtual Hub on Bellboard.
Ventilation and increasing ringing time
At first the guidance in Tier 1 is still only to ring for 15 minutes (as it still is in Wales also), however we are going to be working with some ringers on the Isle of Wight and in Cornwall, the two regions with bells that will be in Tier 1, to understand the benefits of ventilation using CO2 meters.
The use of CO2 meters as a means of measuring the effectiveness of ventilation came from studies summarised in a recent review from the Royal Society. Indeed CO2 measurement is the industry standard used to demonstrate effectiveness of commercial ventilation systems. In an enclosed space like a ringing chamber, our breathing causes CO2 levels to increase. Ventilation brings in fresh air and the CO2 level drops. A CO2 meter is a pretty good proxy for the adequacy of ventilation, which in turn will help us estimate if ringing for longer than 15 minutes is safe (because Covid infected aerosols don’t build up). If the CO2 level in the room does not increase, it is likely that the ventilation is good, and we can ring for longer.
Phil Barnes and David Pouncey have both bought a particular kind of CO2 meter from Canada which can be connected to a laptop and display the change in CO2 levels over time. In the Isle of Wight trial, a couple of bands of relatives will ring for 30 minutes in towers with a broad range of ventilation characteristics and measure how the CO2 levels change. This will then be used to give much better guidance on what other towers need to do to improve ventilation. By the time other regions drop into Tier 1 we hope that this work done by the Isle of Wight and Cornish ringers will enable us to move straight to ringing for longer in towers where the characteristics show that aerosol transmission risk is low.
Overall, there is cause for optimism. There will be disappointment for many in Tier 2 areas particularly that the Tier restrictions do not enable us to get back to where we were in the summer, but then that is something the government has thought about in maintaining and indeed increasing their overall restrictions. December 16th may bring more Tier 2 areas into Tier 1. Hopefully the work that will be done with CO2 monitoring will help us to increase ringing times in more towers as more regions drop into Tier 1.
As has been said by various ministers and public health officials, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to, and the Tier rules “are not boundaries at which to push, but limits of what you can do.”
Ultimately being sensible and being aware of the risks is a sound basis for deciding on whether to ring or not.
Simon Linford President, Central Council of Church Bell Ringers