The letter below was received from Bishop Christopher regarding his retirement
The aim of the webinar is to help you to pick out your bell from the others and to count your place. We talk about ‘odd struckness’ and there are a series eight practical listening exercises to try. We also show you how you can practice honing your listening skills at home during the pandemic, whether this be on simulator software, CD’s and DVD’s, or virtual ringing with others using Ringing Room or other applications.
The recordings of the webinar can be viewed here:
Part 1 – Theory: Link to recording
Part 2 – Practical: Link to recording
Listen and strike: Tips and videos on the Learning the Ropes website
Abel website: Abel, Mabel and Mobel Ringing Simulators (abelsim.co.uk)
Abel – Eight ‘how to’ videos: Abel Ringing Simulator – YouTube
Virtual Belfry website: Virtual Belfry (belfryware.com)
Virtual Belfry – Seventeen ‘how to’ videos Virtual Belfry Ringing Simulator – YouTube
Central Council Publications: Listening CD’s
Whiting Society Publications: Come on Listen to it – book and DVD
Fun with bells podcast: 15 tips to improve your striking – Fun With Bells – a podcast
I’ll start with two different levels of good news and bad news. The first bit of good news is that it is mid-January and we are still eating Christmas cake. I might actually finish reading the Christmas Ringing World before running out of Christmas cake. Tempering that joy is the fact that there still seems to be a bag of sprouts in the fridge. There are some good things to have come out of Bedfordshire, but Brussels Sprouts are not included.
More seriously the latest lockdown has seriously blunted our hopes of a quick recovery to ringing. I updated the Covid guidance on the CC website but felt it was so obvious what the guidance would be that it didn’t really need to be broadcast. Although many churches remain open there is pressure from churches themselves to close even if governments permit opening. Work on guidance doesn’t stop, and the good news of course is that vaccines raise the hope of some sort of return to ringing.
Young ringers’ practices, which had been enabled by guidance on running out of school children’s activities, didn’t manage to get started at all when Lockdown 3.0 set in, and Tier 4 was excluded from that guidance anyway which would have greatly restricted applicability. When we drop back into Tiers again we may be able to resurrect that in lower Tiers at least.
Christmas ringing was curtailed through no fault of our own, although hopefully all those who wanted to ring at Christmas managed to do a little bit. Many communities would have heard bells for the first time for many months.
How many places’ New Year’s Eve celebrations have bells as a focus? I was amazed to see a video from York Minster of crowds previously surrounding York Minster – the ringing of the bells at the Minster is a key part of that city’s celebrations, and suspending the ringing this year was a key part of York trying to stop people gathering. I remember in the short period when I was a member of the band at St Martin in the Fields how challenging it was to get to the tower on New Year’s Eve to ring out over Trafalgar Square, and the astonishing noise outside that drowned out the sound of the bells anyway!
Which leads me onto an idea that I want to get going this year which is an annual competition to find “Britain’s Favourite Bellringers” (name to be decided). The idea is that this would raise the profile and awareness of bells and bellringers in local communities, with the competition voted on by members of church congregations and the general public. What would motivate people to vote, and what would be a good prize for a winning band?
Did you watch Swap Shop or Tiswas? You need to be a certain age to understand that question! Our house watched Swap Shop because it was on BBC and we weren’t allowed to watch ITV… The basic principle was that deluded kids phoned in with offers of something they didn’t want (usually complete tat) and wanted to swap it for something else (usually more desirable), with mixed success. Adam Crocker has adopted “Swap Shop” to describe a new programme of finding a home for ActionXL controllers which are no longer needed by those who have splashed out on eBells. It’s not really a swap of course – in return for your ActionXL controllers you get thanks and the knowledge that you will be helping someone else’s virtual handbell ringing, which is reason enough to do it of course. If you have spare controllers please email firstname.lastname@example.org – mine have already found a new home.
The St David’s Diocesan Guild featured in an excellent four page spread in the glossy West Wales Life&Style magazine. It is sometimes difficult to steer journalists in the right direction in pieces like this, but Guild Master Anne Bunker is quoted extensively, and clearly managed to get the best out of the reporter. The article also features some very good photography – I am guessing commissioned by the magazine. Journalists struggle to get good photographs of ringing, and we struggle for pictures for our own publicity material. We are shortly going to launch a photo competition along the lines of the YouTube comp that will enable us to create a photo library for ringers and journalists to use (with due permissions of course).
One of the highlights of my last couple of weeks was attending the Ruislip Ringing Room striking competition (fashionably late due to a diary malfunction). Sonia Field put it together and really showed what can be done in terms of maintaining and developing an inexperienced band. Eight ringers who nine months ago could hardly press a key in the right place, ringing courses of Doubles methods – each member had their own team drawn from the other members of the band. All creditable, all fun, and enthusiastic. That is just one example of how bands are keeping going with their ringing survival activities and even building skills.
The joint CC and ART Survival and Recovery group has been in touch with guild and association secretaries looking for ‘Recovery Champions’ who can help with the flow of new ideas and initiatives to keep people involved and motivated until we can return to our towers. Might you be the person your branch or district is looking for? Annie Hall (email@example.com) is already sending information out to the first responders.
And finally, a word for my print edition publisher. It’s an exciting time at the Ringing World. With neither song nor dance the announcement appeared of four additional Directors to the Ringing World who are no doubt looking forward to rolling up their sleeves and plotting the future direction of the business alongside the existing team. It is a challenge I understand they relish, and I look forward to joining the first enlarged board meeting next week. Now where is the Christmas issue I still haven’t finished …
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Here is the latest Newsheet from ART on Survival and Recovery.
ART also issued some ideas from Matt Lawrence entitled ‘Top Tips for Survival and Recovery‘. This is available in two formats to download below. The full article is available in the lastest edition of Tower Talk
The following courses will be held via Zoom.
Saturday 16th January 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 23rd January 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 30th January 2021 – 10.15am
Learning Methods webinar (part 1 of 2) with Martin Daniels
Saturday 6th February 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 13th February 2021 – 10.15am
Calling simple touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles webinar
Saturday 20th February 2021 – 10.15am
Saturday 27th February 2021 – 10.15am
Learning Methods webinar (part 2 of 2) with Martin Daniels
Saturday 13th March 2021 – 10.15am
History of bells and ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses, with Phil Watts, Diocesan Bells Advisor
Saturday 27th March 2021 – 10.15am
Recruitment and Retention – How to get more new ringers and how to retain them with Matt Lawrence.
- 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.
Joining the Virtual practice
If you have not used Ringing Room before, take a look at this helpful introductory video: Link to introduction to Ringing Room video
If you are not a Ringing Room user, you will need to register beforehand as a user at http://www.ringingroom.co.uk, the video explains how to do this.
On the day, click on the following Zoom link: Link to W&P Webinars
If needed, the Zoom Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422
The Zoom link will be open from 10.00am for you to log in, and the practice will start promptly at 10.15am. We intend to finish by 11.45am
We will split people into breakout rooms for the practice sessions and will give you the tower numbers for the Ringing Rooms on the day.
To save time with allocating people to the breakout rooms, it will be helpful if you could complete this short questionnaire, so that we know what you would like to ring: Link to Breakout Rooms Questionnaire.
The morning will be split into two 40 minute sessions in the breakout rooms, with a ten or 15 minute ‘coffee break’ in between. This will be an opportunity for people to swap breakout rooms, if they wish to do so.
Saturday 16th January 2021 at 10.15am
With Andy Ingram and Roger Booth
Joining the webinar
There is no need to pre-register. To join this webinar all you need to do is click on the following Zoom link:
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.
This newsletter can also be downloaded as a .pdf
- Happy New Year
- Master’s Message
- Introducing Steve Lamb – The new General Secretary
- Training Webinars and Ringing Room practices
- Pre-recorded Webinars, YouTube videos and on-line courses
- Guild Training & Development Fund
- 200 Club
- 50 Virtual Ringing Things
- The Charmborough Ring
- The W&P needs your help
- Win-Port Email Group moves to Google Groups
- District AGM’s
- Bell Restoration Fund News
Happy New Year!
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.
How to join: Follow this Zoom link: Link to Webinars
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!
Winners of the November Draw were:
- 1st Tangley Ringers £20.00
- 2nd Graham Nobbs £8.00
- 3rd Anne LeMarechal £4.00
- 4th Piers Armstrong £4.00
- 5th Christine Hill £2.00
- 6th Wendy Ling £2.00
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 Communications Committee. 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
- Running the Guild’s Twitter account (wpbells).
- Posting to the Guild’s social Media sites
Guild Education Committee. 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.
Win-Port Email Group moves to Google Groups
With the closure of Yahoo!© Groups on the 15th December 2020, the Win-Port email group has been successfully migrated to a new Google email group. If you were a member of Win-Port whilst it was a Yahoo!© group, you are automatically a member of the new Google group. The Win-Port email group enables members to email other members within the Guild and is an easy method of communication to quickly reach a large number of ringers. It is especially useful for when a “cry for help” is needed when towers were short of ringers for weddings!
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 here to 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 virtual Annual 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 who 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.
Update from 21st December 2020
I write this with a heavy heart, and it is not made any easier knowing that most of you will be expecting it. The impact on ringing of the decisions of the government in England to introduce Tier 4 and to change Christmas bubble arrangements in other Tiers is as nothing compared with other impacts on people’s lives. Just when we thought we had turned the corner our lives need to be more disrupted.
The new rules for Tier 4 state that no non-essential mixing outside of households (other than in a support bubble) is allowed, with only necessary travel outside the house. Whilst public worship is still permitted, there is no mingling with anyone outside your household or support bubble, so ringing will not be allowed in Tier 4. As with the current Tier 3 guidance, tower bells could still be rung by members of the same household, single bells, or by the use of Ellacombe chimes. The Church’s and our view is that this is part of an act of worship.
We are not changing our guidance in other Tiers at this stage, although the increasing speed of transmission of this mutated virus may cause a review sooner rather than later. The Christmas easing and adoption of Tier 1 ringing guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be limited as far as possible – think very carefully about whether it is strictly necessary and consider which church services are most important. The guidance is not a boundary at which to push, and you or your band can decide not to ring for whatever reason. By following the basic principles of reducing travel out of the home and contact with other people as much as possible, we can protect ourselves and our communities. Face masks and social distancing only reduce the risk – they don’t remove it.
I read a lot of ringing social media comment at the weekend, and what was clear was that most ringers are perfectly capable of working out for themselves how national guidance translates to ringing. The most powerful contribution to the debate that I read came from a ringer who works in a hospital in the south west of England, and I hope he will forgive me for quoting him in full:
“Winter pressures within the NHS are tough at the best of times. The system is already creaking under the pressure, and the graphs strongly suggest hospitalisation and deaths are going to increase dramatically. I would STRONGLY URGE anybody thinking of stretching/breaking the rules/advice to get their fix of ringing to reconsider – now is not the time and all you are ultimately doing is risking lives and putting my colleagues and other NHS staff under extreme pressure and risk.”
The one saving grace is that it appears that the end is in sight. Whilst we have some difficult months ahead of us, the promise of a vaccine is now real, and it is highly probable that the course of spread of this pandemic will be fundamentally changed in the first half of 2021. In terms of opening up more ringing, having published guidance on children’s groups, our next effort is going to be looking at more open ringing settings including chancel crossings and ground floor rings, where our setting for ringing is similar to the more open settings enjoyed by singers. Equally though, the virus mutation may make things worse yet in some areas.
The President of the Central Council would usually finish a message written on 21 December by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas, but that somehow doesn’t seem quite right. So instead I will say that I hope that whatever you do, and whoever you manage to be with, you can stay safe and remain positive.
Article from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/12/21/christmas-ringing-and-tier-4-england/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.
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.
Christmas is the time when some changeringers bite the bullet and do some tune ringing. Out come the carol arrangements and the purists grumble that using numbers is not real music. No, but it’s an inclusive means to an end. I am going to teach my work colleagues to ring Silent Night on Ringing Room, having failed to find a decent arrangement of what is of course the best of all Christmas songs “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Watch this video at your peril as the tune will stick in your mind forever!
Lots of ringers have turned to handbell ringing in lockdown as it has provided more opportunities. The Brumdingers regularly rang handbells outside, and just before it got too cold and too dark to ring outside after school we had started ringing Christmas carols to provide some variety. We left room for improvement. Proof of what can be done with practice comes from the young ringers of Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire, who give this lovely demonstration.
Provided we don’t all go back into lockdown after Christmas, young ringers practices can start again in England at least in the New Year. This is using government guidance that recognises the importance of children’s activities out of school. Detailed guidance is now on the CC website and linked from the Bellboard ‘Virtual Hub’. It’s still not a free-for-all practice as we remember them, but should help those who have been working hard to retain their young ringers during lockdown, youngsters who might otherwise start drifting off into other interests.
The Virtual Hub was what brought the North American Guild’s ‘Online GatheRing’ to my attention, and I was pleased to drop in. This really shows what you can do if you’re well organised. There were 16 sessions across eight Ringing Rooms and Discord channels, with activities ranging from the social (pub, quiz, games) to the intense (Spliced Surprise Major). I was able to join in some surprise major ringing in between my garlic bread starter and Saturday night pizza in front of Strictly.
Following last week’s comment on whether we say that we are bellringers on our CVs (if we have them) I followed Tim Mitchell’s suggestion of introducing work contacts to Ringing Room by posting my interest in bell ringing on LinkedIn, along with Kemp Brinson’s brilliant video introduction to Ringing Room, with an invitation to people to be taught to ring Plain Hunt. Early days but my post has been viewed over 700 times and shared. A Dutch colleague who lives in Perth WA was quite surprised when I told him I had visited Perth on more than one occasion to ring bells and visit the Lucky Shag.
Tim’s longer term idea is to take a mobile belfry to large companies and run team building/recruitment activities. If you work for a large company, maybe one with multiple sites or a campus, do you think that if a mobile belfry was erected in the car park or courtyard, colleagues might be encouraged to have a go and form a ringing group? It might be something we pilot in a few places next year when we can.
The Women in Ringing project has come to the end of its first phase. Apparently the special issue of the Ringing World sold a lot of extra copies and even some new subscriptions were taken out as a result of it. The volume of positive and supportive comments was significant and far outweighed any of the to-be-expected criticisms about the subject of gender. The working group is now developing plans to build on the project, with ideas around mentoring, guidance and learning materials, pledges and commitments to do things differently, and generally maintaining awareness of the subject.
When you ring the 5th to peal attempts at Birmingham Cathedral as I was prone to do pre-lockdown, you really take one for the team on a cold day – the wind whistles in and can even move the rope. However, good airflow through the room keeps the back bell ringers from overheating (so they can ring faster) but also keeps all ringers’ concentration levels high (so they can ring longer). More work is being done by the Covid guidance team on CO2 measurements as a means of assessing how well ventilated towers are, leading in turn to better understanding of how long we will be able to ring for in different types of towers. Expertise in monitoring ventilation in offices and labs using CO2 as a measure has been added to the team.
From time to time people send me their newsletters, particularly when they are justifiably proud of them. The latest submission is the Farnham District Newsletter which is another amazing production, managing to fill 28 pages of copy from three months of no ringing. There is a particularly interesting table surveying the level of activity in the District’s towers, with about half using Zoom and Ringing Room to keep practicing. And laudable reference to Council initiatives! Are 50% or more of the towers in your association, branch or district staying active with online activities?
The first Survival and Recovery newsletter has gone out (available again from the Virtual Hub) and has already uncovered stories of what ringers, districts and associations are doing. The joint ART/CC team has an idea of building a network of ‘Recovery Champions’ in different areas who will absorb the different ideas being banded about and help to see what will work in their area. There are already people doing a lot, but also areas that seem a bit dead, and which might stay that way if we’re not careful. Could you be a Recovery Champion?
Thankfully at the time of writing we will still have guidance in place for ringing over Christmas, at least in England if not in other countries as well. 2020 will be a year to forget. Let’s hope that in 2021 we can Come Back Better.
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
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.
If you have not yet subscribed and this newsletter has been forwarded on to you, please do subscribe to the database by visiting the following link: Subscribe to Guild Membership and Comms Database
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.
Further details of how to donate are on the appeal website.
Mayflies – a Ringing Room Tower in action
Towards the end of May this year, when the Mayflies were emerging from the River Test in droves and buzzing round my head in the garden, I decided to take the plunge and set up a virtual tower in Ringing Room.
I didn’t want to call it after a particular tower, as I realised virtual ringing would not be for everyone and I wanted to attract people from all over the place, which seemed to me one of Ringing Room’s advantages.
The Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge on Facebook showed that evening sessions often experienced some time lag, so 5pm seemed a good time – before people’s supper and the evening online rush. With the mayfly hatch in full swing, the name seemed a ‘no-brainer’.
So, at the beginning of June and with the help of fellow ringer Derek Smith, we had a go, just the two of us and then let various ringing friends know that Mayflies would be open for business Monday to Saturday at 5pm. We were immensely lucky that our brilliant District Ringing Master Edmund Wratten joined us to give us direction and advice from his base and our former Kings Somborne Captain Sue Spurling joined us from her new home in Sussex.
With old ringing friends from Kings Somborne, Braishfield, Sparsholt, Winchester and Houghton and new ringing friends from London, Epsom and Staffordshire we can generally count on between 6 and 10 people each day, although if there are only 4 or 5 initially, we’ll ring Minimus methods.
A little gossip tops and tails our practices, but on the whole ringing is what we are there for. For our local band the advantages of Ringing Room are huge – we normally ring at six-bell towers, so the chance to practice and learn 8, 10 and 12 bell methods is fantastic.
We have really progressed with learning touches and for those prophets of doom, who say that in the ‘real’ ringing world we will all be back to square one, I have this to say: the brain will, I’m sure, retain a lot of what we are learning about ‘what to do instinctively at a bob or a single’ and although we may have to relearn straightforward bell handling and using rope sight (and we fully appreciate this may take some time), when we are settled into a plain course of Bob Doubles and a bob is called, we will remember what we are supposed to do.
I don’t see Ringing Rooms just as a lockdown facility either – it will be just as useful for learning methods when things are back to normal, but with the added advantage of being able to practice in a real environment too.
Just as lockdown changed our lives, I believe Ringing Room has changed ringing practices too and given those of us lower down on the learning curve the opportunity and the confidence to metaphorically punch above our weight and try things we would be light years from trying in a real tower.
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:
Alternatively open Zoom and enter the following:
Meeting ID: 883 8896 9942
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
I first saw a 3D barcode about 25 years ago when I worked in the nascent internet industry. I couldn’t really see the point of them, just like I couldn’t see the point of a start-up company called Shazam which we had the opportunity to invest in (big mistake – huge). Now 3D barcodes, or QR codes, are ubiquitous, and we are starting to see them on ringing chamber notice boards.
The Truro DG has come up with a great idea using QR codes to broadcast the sound of church bells in the community. A QR code is generated that is linked to an MP3 recording of the bells at a particular tower, and this QR code can then be put in the church porch, the local library or even the pub! A short video on the idea can be found here The action starts about 15 seconds in, possibly after a Galaxy advert.
Thomas Ashwin-Siejkowski has had a letter printed in a new BBC book called “Letters from Lockdown.” Thomas talks about how much he misses bellringing, how many friends he has made from it, and how much he is looking forward to the future. In his Foreword, Evan Davis says “This book is a collection of some of these Chronicles, written in the midst of one of the most unexpected and intense moments in our history. Together they give us an unforgettable portrait of ordinary people caught in extraordinary times, with all the humour and tragedy and uncertainty we’ve been through.” Good job Thomas – a great future awaits you.
Ringing is going to come earlier for bands of young ringers. For some time, Mark Regan of the CC ‘Covid guidance team’ has been pursuing the possibility of using the ‘supervised children’s activities in out of school settings’ guidance to get groups of ringers aged under 18 to ringing again. This has now borne fruit and in the New Year youth groups will be able to ring across all tiers under controlled conditions. Detailed guidance will be published in the Ringing World on Friday.
A letter in The Telegraph last Friday from a lady called Ann Cottee asked for a ‘reasonable explanation’ for why her Tower Captain has said it was illegal for them to ring the bells at her church of Gislingham. By the power of t‘interweb I tracked her down to being the neighbour of the tower captain, and a churchwarden, which enabled me to send her a nice email explaining how her bellringers were dutifully following the guidance of the House of Bishops but would hope to be ringing again soon. “I am sorry to have caused fluttering in the dovecotes” she replied.
As usual there is good work going on in the background in the Workgroups. Take the work of the T&T Workgroup – their report to the Executive was over two pages of small print covering such detail as the work on compositions (lots of old collections being added in and now 40,000 compositions online with 30% input by workgroup members), v2 of the Framework which is coming soon, the Dove database development continuing apace with the team expanding to include expertise in carillons and mini-rings, and on top of that the Council teams are hoping to transfer onto Office365 and have decent email addresses by Christmas! No more simonhippo…
Sometimes Facebook polls capture the imagination, and none more so than one I posted asking whether we confess to being ringers on our CVs. 850 people answered the poll, with only about 10% saying they didn’t confess. There were great stories from ringers who had secured interviews and even jobs because of it, finding ringers on interview panels. Good to see we look after our own!
16th December is a date for the diary for ringers in England, as it is when the Tiers will be reviewed and hopefully some more towers will drop down into Tier 1. The Covid team has just released the plans for ringing over Christmas in England at least, provided nothing gets disastrously worse before the 16th. Bells will be ringing for Christmas.
The first practices under the ‘Cast of 1000’ initiative have started. Three Surprise Major practices last Saturday had 40 of our initial 70 volunteers ringing methods from the Core 7 plus some of the PPE extension methods such as the rather excellent Lancashire. It was a good start to this trial run, with six more practices before Christmas, in advance of rolling out more focused Surprise Major practices in the new year. It was good to welcome Dylan Thomas from New Zealand who rang some surprise major before going off to his Sunday service ringing commitments at Wellington, much to the envy of his fellow Ringing Roomers.
The deadline for the ART Awards is the end of December. These awards have become increasingly popular as a way of recognising achievements in ringing. They don’t just have to be of people involved in ART or the Learning the Ropes scheme, although there are awards specifically for that. The prizes are significant (£2800 in total) so well worth looking at so that you can nominate special achievement.
After six months of trusting the determination of the YouTube competition winners to experts, we are throwing caution to the wind and letting you decide on which of the winners should get the ‘People’s Choice’ award, for the best of the best. This is your chance to decide whose Christmas is going to have a £200 budget increase. This is more important than voting for HRVY or Bill – and its cheaper! Just go to https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-competition/ and cast your vote wisely or otherwise.
And finally, I learned to ring in the Stafford Archdeaconry Society, now the Lichfield & Walsall Archdeaconries Society of Change Ringers. Their entire committee has gone on my ‘beer tea or cake list’, not for the Society teaching me, though I will always be grateful for that, but for a very kind letter.
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
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”.
Alton & Petersfield District are holding a Virtual Christmas Evening on Friday 18th December from 8pm.
Contact Simon Poyser to receive the Zoom login details.
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.
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.
President, Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Content taken from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/11/30/covid-winter-plan-updated-guidance-for-england-wales-and-scotland/ with permission.
See the CCCBR website for more details.
The guidance for ringing in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland is considered separately here in line with different national rules and guidance from the respective Churches. With the latest level of lockdowns the guidance in each country is very similar.
Lockdown 3.0 has suspended the Tiers-based guidance and replaced it with a mandatory requirement to Stay at Home ‘unless you have a reasonable excuse.’ Our guidance is to adhere to that principle and not go out to ring. This is in line with our guidance during the first period of lockdown when the medical situation was not as bad as it is now.
One difference between the first lockdown and now is that attending a Place of Worship is specifically allowed by law as a ‘reasonable excuse’ provided it is to worship alone or as a household group (the Church of England’s guidance can be found here). The ringing of a single bell or Ellacombe chime (or bells in the case of a ringing household) as part of an act of worship is not prohibited, and if you think it is important enough for a bell or bells to be heard in your community, and you can do it without putting yourselves or others at risk, then that is your decision to make.
Scotland has gone a step further than England and has closed Places of Worship until at least the end of the month. This therefore means that bells should not be rung.
Wales is in Alert Level 4. This is very similar to the lockdown in England with Places of Worship allowed to remain open but a general Stay at Home requirement. Ringing guidance is as for England.
Both jurisdictions are on the severest lockdown level, thus precluding ringing.
Updated 15th January
There is no change to any guidance this week, and there is unlikely to be any next week either.
Updated 8th January
Guidance has been updated to remove all guidance that was based on Tiers and replace that with simple interpretation of lockdown conditions.
Updated 4th January
England and Scotland have entered lockdown again. In England, Places of Worship remain open but in Scotland they will be closed from Friday 8th.
The exact guidance for ringing will be published before the end of the week.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said the following this evening:
“The Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England at this time and we will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible. The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
“However, some may feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only digital services for the time-being. Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home.
“I would urge everyone in our churches to pray for those on the front line in our public services – the NHS and those working in social care, for schools and many others on whom we depend; and for parents and carers of children at this anxious and stressful time.
“There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.”
Updated 27th December
The guidance for ringing for children’s groups has been updated in the light of the introduction of the new Tier 4.
Unfortunately the Government guidance that allows the running of activities for children in out-of-school settings specifically excludes Tier 4, so young ringers groups can only operate in Tiers 1-3.
Updated 21st December
Christmas guidance for England has changed following the Government’s scaling back of relaxations.
Tier 4 guidance added as in the table above.
The adoption of Tier 1 guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be for the most important services over Christmas only, at your discretion and based on local circumstances.
Updated 16th December
Christmas guidance for England is unchanged from the announcement made on 8th December.
The current guidance for ringing in Tier 1 will be adopted for towers in all three Tiers just for the five-day Christmas period – 23rd to 27th. That is to ring up to six bells, with 1m+ separation and using facemasks. The recommendation is to ring for 15 minutes but to assess your tower’s characteristics. Ventilation is key to reducing the risk of aerosol transmission. Note that bellringing guidance no longer has 72 or even a 48 hour recommended gap between sessions, but to maintain good ventilation and hand hygiene.
Review the Guidance Notes on this page to assess the risk of your own ringing chamber and for members of your band to assess their own personal risk. No doubt many ringers (especially those at special risk personally or in their family) will decide not to ring, just as many towers will lack sufficient ventilation to sufficiently mitigate risk even for this one-off occasion.
The Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer are urging us to exercise caution and to “keep Christmas celebrations small, short and local to reduce these risks.” We can do that in our ringing of bells to celebrate Christmas – small, short and local.
Updated 14th December
The specific guidance on ringing for children’s groups has been added to the Guidance Notes. This covers groups of up to six children under 18 ringing together and can be done in all Tiers in England.
The guidance for Northern Ireland has been replaced with guidance for all of Ireland.
Guidance for Christmas services will be confirmed after the 16th December update on tiers in England.
Updated 7th December
There is no change to the guidance this week. Specific guidance on Northern Ireland has been added to the standing guidance by country.
Updated 30th November
New guidance has been published for ringing in various Tiers in England in advance of the end of the lockdown on 2nd December. Guidance has also been updated for the protection levels in Scotland, and for the situation in Wales where ringing is permitted subject to the Council’s guidance.
See the CCCBR website for more details.
Updated 20th November
There has been no change in guidance since the 8th November update.
Updated 8th November
Bellringers in England have been asked to support the Church of England’s call to prayer during this month of lockdown by ringing a single bell at 6pm each day. The request came directly from Lambeth Palace, and has been repeated by many individual Bishops.
The Recovery Group is of the opinion that a single bell ringing is an act of individual prayer, and as such complies with their own guidance and that of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
Updated 6th November
This update is specifically for England, and is responding to the lockdown that started on Thursday 5th November and lasts until 2nd December.
The government in England is asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Churches are closed except for private prayer and broadcast worship. ‘Group bell ringing’ is specifically not permitted in a Place of Worship during this period.
Detail can be found in this statement from MHCLG
However, the ringing of a single bell on Remembrance Sunday has been specifically agreed by the House of Bishops Recovery Group (with permission of the incumbent and churchwardens). The tolling of a single bell is a powerful symbol of remembrance understood by communities and will mean a great deal to many. Please be particularly aware of the risks associated with entering a tower and ringing on your own – make sure someone knows you are doing it and can watch for you. A muffle is not needed when tolling a single bell.
Updated 23rd October
Following further discussions with the Church of England Recovery Group, there is no longer a blanket restriction on ringing in Tiers 2 and 3 in England.
See this news release.
Updated 16th October
A news item has been published on the CCCBR website today announcing the disappointing news that we believe ringing should be suspended in areas of England designated as being in Tiers 2 and Tier 3. Towers in Tier 1 are unaffected. This is our interpretation of the legislation which is shared by the Church of England Recovery Group.
Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).
The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”
The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors and in private dwellings
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”
Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.
Updated 13th October
Following the announcement on Monday October 12 of a new three-tier risk alert system for COVID-19 in England, we are considering the implications for ringing and will publish our opinion by the end of Friday 16th.
Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).
The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”
The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors and in private dwellings
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”
Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.
Updated 9th October
There is no change to the guidance this week but an article has been published here which explains the Central Council’s current roadmap for guidance, paving the way for more localised decision making. We are also undertaking a wholescale review of guidance documents.
From now on, guidance updates are going to be published on Mondays, which gives time to digest higher-level guidance that is often published on Fridays.
The next guidance update will therefore be Monday 19th October.
Updated 2nd October
The Frequently Asked Questions have been refreshed to remove those which are now common knowledge and add in more recent concerns such as the implications of ringing in areas of increased lockdown.
All restrictions imposed by Governments override guidance either from our Churches or the Central Council. The UK’s ‘Rule of Six’ (in its various forms) for instance is a legal restriction aimed at reducing social contact, rather than guidance.
If (as in the North East of England at the end of September and parts of Lancashire shortly thereafter) no indoor mixing of different households is allowed, then it appears that it would be illegal for anyone other than members of the same household to ring, even if church services are allowed. Places of worship do not appear to have been given a specific exemption, however they have remained open. The position is unclear, although the UK Government’s intention is clearly to reduce social contact in non-essential settings, citing work and education as the only exemptions.
Elsewhere, if extra restrictions (but still allowing six to meet indoors) have been imposed where you live, then the transmission of Coronavirus is high, and the level of risk greater. The CCCBR’s guidelines do aim to be “Covid-Secure”, but you need to make a local risk assessment (focussing especially on the size and ventilation of your tower and the characteristics of your ringers) to decide if it is appropriate to ring – and it may well not be. Remember that the final decision rests with the Incumbent.
Updated 25th September
There has been no change to guidance this week.
The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to the team. David is a recently retired GP who during a long career spent time dealing with epidemics in Africa, and most recently managing coronavirus patients. As well as taking a share of the workload, David will be specifically looking at the next phase of guidance.
David rings in Gloucestershire.
Updated 18th September
Dicussions are ongoing regarding the potential reduction of distance between ropes, although in view of the upsurge in Covid cases and the number of areas of the United Kingdom entering increasing states of lockdown there is extreme caution over reducing distancing for bellringing at the moment.
The ‘rule of six’ is now in force in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption provided those in church stay in groups of six.
Update on 11th September
The period of time between ringing sessions has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is on the assumption that all hand hygiene guidance is being followed.
We do not yet have the green light to reduce distance between ropes below current guidance, but it is under consideration on the basis that this will enable more towers (and ringers) to ring. The CofE Recovery Group is very sympathetic to the case but are consulting with others included MHCLG in the light of the upsurge in cases.
The ‘rule of six’ is being implemented in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with slight regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption but the extent of that is not yet clear and further details are awaited. Although this is unlikely to impact on tower bell ringing, if there is any conflict between guidance and the law, the law prevails.
Update on 4th September
There has been no change to the guidance this week. Updated guidance to reduce distance between ropes to enable more towers to ring more bells has been submitted for approval. Note that ringing is still limited to 15 minutes but does not have to be for a service, provided it is with the permission of the incumbent.
Guidance on the use of simulators is being written and will be available shortly.
Update on 14th August
Following last week’s update on wearing face coverings for ringing (which is mandatory in churches in England and Scotland) the individual guidance notes have been updated to include references to face coverings. A number of people have enquired whether ringers who claim exemption from wearing a face covering can ring without them. It is our view that face coverings reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and therefore protect our fellow ringers. Anyone who is unable to wear a face covering should not ring.
Local lockdowns continue and may increase. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens.
Guidance notes 2 and 4 have been amended slightly to clarify the 1.5m allowed separation for ropes which fall in a straight line, i.e. that the middle of three ropes which fall in a straight line should be 1.5m from the two adjacent ropes.
Update on 7th August
The only two things changed this week are that use of the word ‘facemask’ in this guidance has been replaced with the words ‘face coverings’ to bring this guidance in line with the Church of England’s guidance. The churches in Scotland also refer to face coverings rather than facemasks, while the Church in Wales does not appear to have stipulated the wearing of face coverings yet. Face coverings does not include visors.
We would like to also clarify that ringing does not specifically have to be for a service, but should still be with the permission of the incumbent. Ringers have been asked to ring for weddings, and on Sundays where there is no service but where the sound of bells is welcome to remind communities of the presence of the church. It is still only 15 minutes though, whatever the purpose of the ringing.
The wearing of face coverings is mandatory from 8th August in places of worship in England and Scotland (Wales doesn’t appear to be mandatory but advice welcome). Wearing face coverings does not reduce the minimum distances approved for ringing which remain as :
- 2m spacing between ringers (which will generally mean alternate bells)
- 1.5m spacing allowable if ropes fall in a straight line (ringers facing inwards not towards each other)
- Adjacent bells can be rung by ringers from the same household
An increasing number of places may have lockdown restrictions brought back as happened first in Leicester, then in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and most recently in Preston. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens
The Church of England and the Church in Wales both allow bells being rung in their churches now that cathedral and church buildings are open to the public. It is on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance on these pages. Public Health England (PHE) has reviewed the Council’s guidance, suggesting various amendments which have been incorporated into the guidance given here. It has all been agreed with the Church of England Recovery Group, whose support for ringing is greatly appreciated. The Central Council will continue to pursue a similar situation for other jurisdictions in which there are bells.
We appreciate not all jurisdictions are the same, even within the United Kingdom. The Scottish Association has done a thorough review of the positon regarding ringing in towers in Scotland and has published its guidance here.
The restriction on ringing is difficult for bell ringers who are missing the activity that is so much part of our lives. The Church is however very sensitive to the safety of its volunteers and the relaxation of restrictions will not necessarily be as rapid as it is in certain other settings where other factors are under consideration. Failing to follow this guidance could cause this limited return to ringing to be reversed, and we are very grateful to all ringers who have embraced the return to ringing so positively.
By no means all churches are open for services. Opening is very much down to individual Dioceses and incumbents, taking into account many factors. However ringing does not have to be for a service provided the incumbent is happy to have the bells rung. Bells are a powerful reminder that the church is still there in the heart of our communities. Note that there is a specific requirement in the Church of England guidance document that ringers have read this guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.
The Church in Wales includes the ringing of bells in their guidance issued to parishes, which can be found here. Section 1 Paragraph 15 refers to ringing and states “bell ringing is permissible, but bell ringers should observe two-metre physical distancing and hygiene and cleaning regimes should be implemented. Careful consideration of how bell ringers will access the building suitably distanced from other attendees needs consideration, e.g. different entry points or staggered arrival times. Bell ringing arrangements should comply with guidance available from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers [ref to this site]”We have also included in these guidance notes for checking bell installations prior to ringing. Please see our checklist below for some key areas that may need addressing. The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that for jobs that cannot safely be done by one person, two or three should enter the bell tower to undertake them, following social distancing guidance if they are not from the same household.
This guidance is being constantly inline with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This website will be updated weekly on a Friday, whether or not there is a change in guidance. Any requests for clarification can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org – it will get looked at as soon as possible.
- What are we worried about? (PDF)
Recommended background reading for all
- Making your tower as safe as possible (PDF)
Suggested for Tower captains and steeplekeepers
- Checklist for recommencing ringing (PDF)
Summary for steeplekeepers but see also detailed document from SMWG below
- Running safe ringing sessions (PDF)
Guidance for Tower Captains and Ringing Masters
- Can I go ringing safely? (PDF)
Considerations for individual ringers
- How bell ringers are assessing risk (PDF)
To be given to incumbents to explain how we are making our ringing safe
Click here to download the complete set of guidance documents as a single PDF. These documents are intended to be succinct and easily readable. They do not contain all the detail that could be put in them but instead focus on the key issues. A more detailed group of documents has been produced by the Stewardship & Management Workgroup and can be downloaded here.
- Ringing risk assessment post Covid 9 July 2020
- Tower and bells risk assessment after non use 15 June 2020
- Tower Safety and Risk Assessment 15 June 2020
- Risk assessment template (based on HSE)
- The UK Government guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic can be found via this link
- The Church of England guidance on Opening Cathedral and Church Buildings can be found via this link
Frequently Asked Questions
We have accumulated all of the questions we have been asked by ringers concerning the guidance, such as why the guidance is still 2m rather than 1m, and whether members of family groups can ring on adjacent bells. We will update these FAQs from time to time and this version is all questions up to 3rd July.
A detailed analysis from Dr Philip Barnes and Dr Andrew Kelso is available to download.
This document seeks to provide information and advice for ringers and those responsible for bell towers regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and what issues ringers and church authorities should consider in responding to changes in Government guidance as we start to ease the current lockdown. It is focused on the situation in the Church of England, which is responsible for the vast majority of churches with bells hung for ringing. While the specific advice from leaders of other churches and in other countries may vary, the basic issues for ringers and ringing are the same wherever we ring.
If, like in our house, you play the game involving spotting Minis and shouting “Mini pinch Mini punch” while inflicting pain on your neighbour, you will be enjoying Susan Calman’s “Secret Scotland” series on Channel 5, which features the comedian touring Scotland in a nice red Cooper S (with black roof). The programme presents plenty of opportunities to inflict injury. Last week we finally got to the episode where she visited the Bell Tower in Inveraray and is shown the ropes (did I really say that?) by Ruth Marshall, Ringing Master of the Scottish Association. A great piece of PR by an A list celebrity – well done Ruth. I was also interested to hear Inveraray pronounced by the castle’s owner, the Duke of Argyll, during an earlier episode. His pronunciation rhymed with Demerara rather than Tipperary. (And just in case you were wondering, we allow Charlie to play the ‘different journey’ rule that enables you to claim the same Mini twice, so it does not pay to sit next to her on the sofa.)
We are coming to the end of our YouTube competitions, originally conceived as something to keep ringers interested during lockdown and beyond. The later rounds were designed expecting us to be back to normal and able to produce videos showcasing ringing by now, but the lack of live material is forcing filmmakers to be even more creative. There are a few days left to submit your film that “promotes ringing in the most positive way” – this might be something you have spotted in the past which would be worth revisiting. I cannot find one which was called “What’s up that tower?” or something like that. It was good though.
The pandemic has increased the interest in webinars and YouTube tutorials, with one of the latest being Mark Davies’s continuing Methodoku book promotion tour (available in all good RW bookshops). In the “Coming soon” category is a series of tutorials being produced by Richard Pullin on composing. He is covering different aspects of composing in six instalments, the first of which will be released very shortly. Worth looking out for based on my sneak preview. I even return to the silver screen myself in December in one of the St Martin’s Guild’s series.
The Council and ART are working together on a lot of survival and recovery strategies. We decided to create a ‘Covid hub’ where ringers can go and find Covid-related support and news, rather than searching on different websites. It is hosted on Bellboard (look for Virtual Hub on the menu). The hope is that all online ringing events will be posted there. This week’s featured video is a presentation delivered by Alan Regin for the St Martin’s Guild. Alan discusses his work as Steward of the Rolls of Honour, work undertaken to mark the centenary of the First World War, and the project to install a ring of eight bells in Ypres.
Alan Sparrow has launched a new Android app called Bell Finder, which does what it says on the tin, talking to the Dove database to deliver tower information on your phone. One of the intentions of making the Dove data available via an API was that it enables 3rd party apps to be written. Just need one for IoS now!
By the time you read this we will have come to the end of a series of 19 Zoom consultations on the merits or otherwise of some form of direct membership organisation for ringing. The first ten were with CC members, others with ringers of varying degrees of experience, and we have had four with ringers of school and university age. We have also had about 400 returns of an online survey sent to all the direct subscribers to the CC mailing list. It is now going to take quite a lot of thought to analyse all the views and see if there is actually a proposal that would have a meaningful impact and that has sufficient support to be deliverable. There are some nuggets in there to be sifted out.
The only thing that is certain is the lack of consensus! Looking at the results of the survey, the propensity to favour the status quo increases with age, with those over 70 twice as likely to want the future to stay as it is than those with most of their ringing lives ahead of them. The discussions with young ringers were perhaps the most interesting. Whilst not seeing any need to do away with the territorial associations which taught them, they see ringing as very fragmented, and wonder why all the different parts (RW, CC, ART, 12 bell contest, etc) are not unified. “Ringing’s a bit of a mess really.” Out of the mouths of babes…
Opportunity knocks! We are looking for a couple more people to join the Workgroups in leadership roles. One particularly needs to do with branding and marketing as we consider how ringing is presented to the outside world, particularly when we come out of the pandemic and need to rebuild. We are prepared to pay for external advice and design, but this will all need coordinating and managing by someone who understands both marketing and ringing. If you are frustrated with how ringing is seen by the general public and have ideas about how to do it better, then we would like to hear from you.
Then we have a number of activities that are in the general area of recruitment, retention, supporting ringers etc. which sit under the very broadly based Volunteering & Leadership Workgroup. We have volunteers who will do things – but the work needs coordination or just more people with experience in pulling the strands together, interpreting the strategy and turning it into workable plans etc. Do you have room in your life for doing something additional that would be of wider benefit? Hours to suit…
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/11/25/21935/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
The November 2020 numbers for the W&P 200 Club were drawn by Robin Milford of Curdridge and Wendy Smart of Botley, and announced at the on-line Executive Committee meeting on Saturday 21st November 2020. The results were as follows:
|Fourth||10%||£4.00||35||Piers Armstrong (2)|
I have delayed sending out prizes from previous draws this year because of the pandemic, and they are being sent out now. This year’s total contribution from the 200 Club to the Guild Training and Development Fund is £127.
The next draw will take place in March next year for the Guild Executive Committee meeting. Money received between now and the meeting will go into that draw. More members means more winnings and more money for the Training and Development Fund! Please send me your forms, which may be found on the Guild website under ‘200 Club‘.
Article below taken from CCCBR website.
At the start of the first lockdown we were still looking forward to ringing events in the summer. There were plans for a grand “Ringing Returns” festival to mark the end of the almost unprecedented few months off ringing. Three months without ringing would be painful but not seismic. We would get a bit rusty, but we could recover.
It now looks clear that by the time ringing returns to ‘normal’ we will have missed at least a year. A year without ringing, a year without recruitment, a year without training, a year without the social intercourse that makes ringing what it is. Not only that, but we have months more in which to try and cope without the activity that some of us live for.
We therefore face two challenges. Survival through a bleak winter with little in the way of ringing to keep us motivated, and then rebuilding at least some of what we had before. That is going to need a lot of effort from a lot of people, but we are not going to wait until next year to start. There are things that can be done now, particularly in terms of survival.
ART and the CCCBR are already working on ways in which we can help ringers and bands stay together and then recover. For instance, we are working together to produce a Survival and Recovery Toolbox from which ringers, bands and even ringing societies can pick the tools that will best help them keep going until ringing can resume and tailor them to local needs. The toolbox will give access to training, a variety of new (and old) ideas and the opportunity to learn from what others have done or are thinking of doing.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll start to roll out tools, resources and ideas for replacing the routines, friendship and opportunities that we have lost because we’re not ringing. Let’s try and keep as many people as possible enjoying ringing this winter so that we can recover and rebuild when ringing returns to ‘normal’. Some of it will just be helping more people to find resources that already exist.
Questions about some sort of centralised recovery strategy have been popping up on social media, in email chat lists and have arrived by email. We want to assure you that a recovery strategy is being discussed and developed, with the Survival and Recovery Toolbox being just a start. The Council Executive and ART Management Committee are thinking about recovery strategies at a more fundamental level as well. If you have any ideas or would like to help in any aspect of this – building, delivery or engagement – then please get in contact with us. Working together is the best way of building a positive future for ringing.
Winchester District held an online training course using Zoom on Saturday 14th November. It was presented by Edmund Wratten, District Ringing Master, and attended by over 30 members.
The presentation that Edmund gave is available to download here.
NB: This presentation requires LibreOffice, available to download and use for free from https://www.libreoffice.org/
You will only be able to view the presentation using Impress in LibreOffice. Once you have installed LibreOffice click on the link above to download the presentation. It will not work in PowerPoint or online.
Macro setting required to run the presentation: In Impress (the LibreOffice equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint) you will need to set the Macro Security level to ‘Medium’ in the security settings, the menu structure may vary depending on which operating system you are using – Go to the ‘Tools‘ menu (or on some operating systems the ‘LibreOffice’ menu); select ‘Options…‘ (or ‘Preferences…’) ; expand the ‘LibreOffice‘ heading and select ‘Security‘ then click on the ‘Macro Security…‘ button; On the ‘Security Level’ tab select ‘Medium‘.
St Peter’s Church Bell ringer John Leary, one of the young ringers, tolled the tenor bell on behalf of the band paying tribute to the fallen, before the Sunday Remembrance Day commemorations in Petersfield. John, photographed in the St Peter’s Church Bell Tower is standing by the photograph, on the right of the picture of the Rev Victor Wardle former assistant Priest at Petersfield and a bell ringer. He died in an internment camp in Japan on 4th January 1945.
A poppy wreath was taken to the Petersfield War Memorial on Sunday afternoon and placed there on behalf of the St Peter’s Church Bell ringers by Caroline M Welsh, bell ringer, with the following card inscription.
From St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow we gave our today
We wanted to share with the Guild some fond memories from last years Ypres visit by the Alton & Petersfield District.
We felt especially at this significant time of year sharing a very moving and memorable clip of Emma Hornsby, Sam Marriot and Roger Barber from A&P District laying a wreath on behalf of the Guild would be fitting in time for Armistice Day.
The short clip was filmed during the Last Post Ceremony with over 2000 attending the Saturday 28th September 8pm ceremony at the Menin Gate Ypres Belgium. The band played ‘The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins’ as we watched the wreath laying by groups, families and societies from as far as Australia and Canada. There weren’t many dry eyes.
Just over a year on, our world is a very different place. We hope, and pray that by this time next year we’ll all be in a much better place and sharing once again the delightful sounds of our bells deliver across communities.
Latest advice from CCCBR
The Covid guidance has been updated in response to the lockdown in England that starts tomorrow for four weeks.
The government in England is asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Stopping ringing during this time is consistent with that request. Churches are closed except for private prayer and broadcast worship. We realise England’s senior faith leaders, including the Bishop of London who heads the C of E Recovery Group, are challenging the government’s decision to ban communal worship during this further lockdown period, but at the moment no exception has been made, and even if it was, our guidance wouldn’t change. This is a much stricter lockdown than Tier 3.
However, we support the tolling of a single bell on Remembrance Sunday, if it is with the permission of the incumbent and churchwardens. This has been specifically approved by the House of Bishops Recovery Group. The tolling of a single bell is a powerful symbol of remembrance understood by communities and will mean a great deal to many. Please be particularly aware of the risks associated with entering a tower and ringing on your own – make sure someone knows you are doing it and can watch out for you. A muffle is not needed when tolling a single bell.
For all of us able to get to a tower to ring, Remembrance Sunday ringing will be different, maybe strange, this year and it will be disappointing most likely for those of us unable to ring ourselves. The remembrance element of the occasion is as important as ever of course, possibly even more so as so many of our communities face such uncertainty and many challenges in everyday life.
Please be kind enough to let me know if your tower has Remembrance Ringing plans, or if you will be ringing handbells or using Ringing Room or similar, as it will help me to respond to media enquiries in good time. In due course, please let me know what you were able to ring, as it will be of interest, and also encouraging, for churches, communities and ringers alike.
Our Guild’s digital archive for the World War 1 Centenary Commemoration is still open for new entries; it will be updated again in the early part of 2021.
Please visit https://wpbells.org/ww1/ for background information.
If you would like to have your Remembrance Ringing included in the digital archive, please email the relevant details to email@example.com or submit to BellBoard with the appropriate footnote.
Public Relations Officer
(Social Distancing Rules were in place)
A few weeks ago, Mary Broadbridge, tower captain at St Peter’s church Petersfield Hampshire organised a special hand bell ringing teaching session taken very kindly by Iain Hayden who has been ringing with the St Peter’s tower band over the last year. There were six learners who under Iain’s tutelage managed to ring rounds and one or two call changes. Every one very much enjoyed the morning and we are all hoping it will be one of many teaching sessions when with practice we can progress to ringing methods. Of course, depending on what Covid restrictions are in
A few weeks ago, Mary Broadbridge, tower captain at St Peter’s church Petersfield Hampshire organised a special hand bell ringing teaching session taken very kindly by Iain Hayden who has been ringing with the St Peter’s tower band over the last year. There were six learners who under Iain’s tutelage managed to ring rounds and one or two call changes. Every one very much enjoyed the morning and we are all hoping it will be one of many teaching sessions when with practice we can progress to ringing methods. Of course, depending on what Covid restrictions are in place in the future.
The St Peter’s Church band ring for Sunday Service at 09:00 for fifteen minutes and on Wednesday practice for fifteen minutes, ringers taking it in turns to ring on different weeks.
Caroline M Welsh
Archivist St Peter’s Bell Ringers
It’s funny how words come into your lexicon (like that one). I have spent 50 years not feeling a need to use the word ‘nuanced’ and now hardly a day goes by without it coming into conversation. (nuanced: a. characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.) The current review of the Coronavirus ringing guidance is intended to be more ‘nuanced’ – to recognise the different levels of risk for different people and in different ringing settings, and enable more local risk assessment and decision making. As I write this, the new three tier system has been announced in England, which may then be reflected in the rest of the UK, and we will need to assess its implications quickly.
Of course ringing restrictions are not just about the United Kingdom. In Australia, nearly all the towers were shut at one stage, but now only about half remain listed as completely shut. The others are anything from minimal ringing to nearly normal. Regulations vary enormously from State to State in Australia, as do the policies of individual churches. Some towers are ringing in New Zealand and plenty of quarters are being reported from Wellington. Kilifi is open and ringing! Last weekend would have been the North American Guild AGM in Honolulu but of course it was replaced with a Zoom meeting with rather more variable weather conditions.
Ringers everywhere in the world are grateful for the opportunities presented by Ringing Room but have you also seen what I think is the best explanation of bellringing in a short video ever? I almost need to create a special category in the YouTube competition to be able to give it a prize. Maybe I should send a prize anyway because the September competition didn’t work out. Well done to Kemp Brinson for this video.
A good week for media coverage. The Spectator carried a brilliant article initially asking why the bells were not ringing at Westminster Abbey. Clearly very well researched, completely in tune with the current restrictions, very supportive and appreciative of bellringing. It is behind a paywall but has been posted in the Bellringers Facebook group. I’ll see if we can get permission to publish it (although this may work). One could quote almost all of it but perhaps just: “Among themselves, ringers refer to their art as ‘The Exercise’. How excellent is that? Recently, Catherine Pepinster at the Telegraph urged young people to keep the art alive. I would have thought it was a natural choice for the Harry Potter generation.”
Another Zoom call last week with the CofE Recovery Group which culminated in the post made last Friday and in The Ringing World. What we have also just got on the radar is the subject of guidance to support Devon’s call change competitions. This is something in which I have a keen interest because I would like to see how the focus on striking that these call change competitions engender could be used elsewhere. Some bands might enjoy and benefit from developing call change ringing per se, rather than seeing it as a stepping stone to struggling through Bob Doubles.
After the first peal on Ringing Room, I suggested it was something no one else would ever do. So I am a bit surprised that I have now rung three. This doesn’t put me very high up the leading peal ringers during lockdown list, which is headed by some prolific handbell ringers, for whom the pandemic has almost been an opportunity. At least it has given time for some people to develop their handbell ringing. The list is headed by Daniel Page, Daniel Page’s brother (and recently elected Junior Steward of the SRCY – congratulations Jack), and Colin Newman.
Possibly the most stupendous peal of the pandemic has just been published – the Perrins family ringing Scientific Triples in hand (pictured). Although the magnitude of this achievement will be lost on many, enough people spotted it to give it that most current and coveted of accolades – ‘Top of the Pops’ on BellBoard. Scientific has been rung to a peal in hand once before – by members of the St Martin’s Guild (including the current Editor of The Ringing World on 1-2) in 2008.
Sunday morning saw a call from one Bruno Peek. This might be a name you recognise, but if not he is the self-styled “Pageant Master”, who has spent the last 30 years organising nationwide acts of celebration, described by The Independent as “the go to man when Britain stops to remember the past.” One of his most high-profile ventures was organising the lighting of 250 beacons across the United Kingdom (and islands) for the Queen’s 90th birthday. He was also behind VE Day and VJ Day celebrations. Bruno is very keen on bells. He sees bellringing as a key way to bring communities together and mark special occasions. So far so good. He wants bell ringing to be part of an annual celebration of the founding of the NHS, which we can probably manage (next July). And he wants to help with the “Britain’s Favourite Bellringers” idea. Awesome.
I have not mentioned this before. Imagine an annual competition to find Britain’s Favourite Bellringers, or better still the World’s Favourite Bellringers, voted on by local communities rather than ringers themselves. This would highlight and profile how important bells are and help make people realise what is going on in the tower. I think maybe regional heats, then national finals. This is a good time to do it because the lockdown has made many communities realise that they miss their bells. Bruno loves the idea for a start, and thinks he can get it in the Daily Express and the Telegraph. Let me know if you have any bright ideas about how this might work in practice.
And Bruno also chipped in £25 for the Mobile Belfry. He would like the proposed Mobile Belfry to be the centrepiece of the final celebrations, parked on Horseguards Parade in front of all the media. Now wouldn’t that be great?
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/10/13/presidents-blog-20/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
Last Friday lunchtime, I was notified by my daughter’s school that one person in her year group had tested positive for Coronavirus and the entire year group was being sent home to self-isolate for 10 days. One of the first things she did on getting home was to say that she wouldn’t be able to fulfil either of her Sunday ringing commitments, and she informed both tower captains. Such is life at the moment.
Her absence from ringing was not just a sense of responsibility to her fellow ringers. The school had given pretty strict guidance on what to do in this 10 day period and it did not include unnecessary outings, however strong the mitigations ringing has adopted. Even socially distanced reduced duration ringing was going to be put on hold.
By and large, ringers are an above averagely sensible group and respect the need for the ringing community to be consistent and act as one on the application of the guidelines. There are outbreaks of ‘cleverdickery’ and ‘whataboutery’, but generally the socially distanced, restricted ringing recommended in the guidance has been adopted. However, we have been at the current level of restriction for a while, and even though we appear to be in the second wave of Coronavirus infection in Britain, you probably want to know what the plans are for ringing recovery.
Before going into what we propose to do next, I would like to recap how we have got to where we are now.
When the guidance was originally discussed with the Church of England Recovery Group it was on the basis that ringing for services was a good starting point for getting ringing going again, and was timed to coincide with the reopening of churches. What then happened was that by no means all churches reopened, and so the guidance was clarified to remove the service ringing restriction, as many incumbents were happy to have bells rung anyway.
That first round of guidance did not enable as many towers to start ringing as we had hoped. Smaller towers in particular are not able to ring enough bells at 2m distance for it to be worthwhile, although larger towers have adapted well. We used this as the basis of our discussions with the Recovery Group on reducing distancing to 1m – that we had not been effective in enabling much service ringing with 2m distancing.
Work on the guidance to this point had been shared by Phillip Barnes, Mark Regan and me, with Alison Hodge’s Stewardship & Management Group also working on detailed guidance and risk assessments. Zoom calls are held with the Recovery Group about every two weeks. Knowing that we needed to move into the next phase of guidance, we invited David Pouncey to join the group to give a fresh perspective and to help shoulder a burden that weighs heavily. David is a recently retired GP with very relevant medical experience who had previously engaged with us and offered his help.
The good news for the future is that we have now agreed with the Recovery Group that distance between ringers will be able to be reduced to 1m+ provided other mitigations are in place. Face coverings are probably the most important of them, as the understanding of the aerosol transmission of the virus has increased over the course of the pandemic. This has particular relevance for ringing given the setting of our activity and our close spacing to each other.
We are very mindful however that announcing a relaxation of restrictions at a time when infection levels are increasing may appear inappropriate, even if that relaxation is based on a very sound interpretation of the current risks, and agreement with the Church. So we intend to move to this next level with an overall revision of guidance that shifts the decision making process down to association and tower level, and which can be based on the overall level of restrictions in a particular place or region. The UK Government looks to be moving to a three-tiered “traffic lights” plan based on number of infections per 100,000 of population and when that is launched, we will align our advice to that.
We are also working on clear guidance for local and personal risk assessment, so that you and your band can decide whether to ring or not based on an informed understanding of the risks generally, and your tower’s particular circumstances. Large well-ventilated spaces are much less risky than small unventilated rooms: those who work closely with others have a much greater risk of spreading the virus than those who work from home or have relatively few social interactions. This could enable the low risk environments to extend ringing time to 30 minutes, although high risk environments might conclude that they should not ring at all. We are looking at whether if any tower is unsure about how to interpret the guidance for them, someone at association level could be equipped to help, which is what appears to be happening in most places anyway. We expect all this to be in place in the next week or two. We want to be ready to act as soon as infection levels drop, and to be able to react more quickly to future changes in circumstances.
Finally, Mark Regan has been looking at how young ringers’ groups could benefit from published guidance for “holiday and after school clubs, and other out-of-school settings.” This guidance allows larger groups of children to meet regularly in consistent groups, which could be very useful.
President, Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
(this article was published in The Ringing World, issue 5711, 9 October 2020)
The days have probably gone when ringers chose their universities based on the ringing opportunities available. Many of my contemporaries will admit that ringing was a factor in their own choices, but those were different times, times when the “Desmond” (a.k.a. the “Ringer’s Degree”) was almost, but not quite, a badge of honour. For young ringers, going to university can be an exciting time, but it is also a time looked forward to by the ringing communities receiving them. Fresh keen ringers are welcome anywhere.
In my home city of Birmingham, we were pleased to see university students return and also to welcome a few very capable ringers who have stated at our universities. Ringing opportunities are currently limited but the new arrivals have been included in the city centre ringing. There was much discussion on university societies at the Council AGM after workgroup leader Ian Roulstone gave his short presentation, particularly the importance of supporting university ringing if the university society doesn’t have critical mass. More information can be found on this workgroup on the newly updated workgroup page of the CC website
Coverage of ringing in national media seems to have got better in recent years. Emily Hall featured in an excellent BBC piece on the return of ‘Covid-Secure’ ringing to Beeston, turning a difficult situation into a positive. You may also have seen a brief glimpse of comedian Susan Calman in a trailer for her ‘Secret Scotland’ series. A vignette on her visiting the bell tower at Inveraray, looked after by Ruth Marshall, will appear in an episode to be broadcast in December.
Last time I talked about two towers that had moved ringers onto different levels to achieve more separation but has any tower adapted their rope circle to increase the spacing between ropes and ringers? Nantwich, which benefits from a large ringing chamber anyway, has inserted new timber struts between walls to allow a rope to be drawn into a new position (see picture). Be careful when making adjustments to towers – check with the Incumbent whether a faculty is required (Nantwich did and one wasn’t).
Progress is being made on the Covid ringing guidance – quietness is not a sign of inactivity. The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to its ranks. David is a recently retired GP who during a long career spent time dealing with epidemics in Africa, and most recently managing coronavirus patients. As well as taking a share of the workload, David will be specifically looking at the next phase of guidance and is now reviewing and updating all the Guidance Notes.
Situations vacant! The Council is looking for someone to help our Secretary, Mary Bone, in an assistant role. This is particularly in terms of helping with the administration of Council membership, dealing with changes in details, maintaining address lists in various places, and helping in the run up to the AGM. If you have some organisational ability, some spare time, and would like to become a valued member of the team, please either contact Mary firstname.lastname@example.org or me.
Changing flights is a regular reminder of overseas ringing trips that have been cancelled. This week I finally got the email from Aer Lingus saying that my flights to New York to judge the Trinity Shield had been cancelled, along with an impossible refund process. But I was happy to take the voucher because it will happen again. The best thing about Aer Lingus to New York from Birmingham via Dublin is you can have four breakfasts – one at each airport and one on each aircraft.
ART has adapted its Learning the Ropes Handbells scheme to allow quarter peals on online platforms in a pragmatic approach to keeping people making progress. Part of ART’s thinking was that such performances are generally harder than ringing with real people in front of you ringing real bells up and down. There is one proviso though in that to complete the LtR Handbells scheme, at least one quarter peal should be rung with real people and real bells. This was felt sufficient to demonstrate good handbell technique and the ability to ring in the same room as others (or same churchyard).
I enjoyed a Sunday evening discussion with members of the Truro DG. An hour easily turned into two as we explored a range of subjects with differing levels of controversy! For instance, “how many rings of bells would you have left in your area if every church with a congregation of fewer than 25 closed for good?” One thing I thought was very interesting and possibly little known is the practice of ringing call change peals – long compositions of call changes, which can be very challenging. Am I right in thinking someone has called a complete peal (as in method peal) in call changes or did I dream it?
Search for Tong in/on Dove and you will see find a perhaps unremarkable 12 cwt ring of 6, but then you come across the additional information “Also hung for ringing: bourdon bell (‘Great Bell of Tong’); rung from chancel.” Rung only on a small number of special days in the year, the Great Bell is a special thing – a special thing which is now easier to ring as it has been re-hung by Taylors. Apparently it actually goes up to the balance now with no hernia risk, which is a definite improvement.
Finally, just like other museums, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Museum has been closed to visitors, and group tours of the bellfoundry buildings have also stopped. Good news is the trust that owns it has received lottery funding to make changes within the building to ensure it is COVID compliant and can reopen to visitors. There are longer term plans to develop the museum further – the Brumdingers young ringers group had great fun helping with ideas for how such a museum could be attractive to young visitors, although there was a lot of focus on the gift shop and café!
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/09/29/presidents-blog-19/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
If you have not already done so, you need to register before you can join the AGM online today.
The registration link will be available from your District or Tower Secretary. It is also available on the Guild Facebook site and Twitter and has been distributed to the win-port email group.
Instructions on how to register are available here.
Once your registration is approved you will receive further instructions on how to join the webinar and guidelines on how to participate in the meeting.
If anyone has apologies for absence, items of Any other business, or comments or questions on any Agenda item, please send them to Tony Smith in advance so that the meeting can run as smoothly as possible.