Two great minds (Alan Bentley and Tim Kettle) have been at work together to host this great opportunity within the C&S District: A one day course (Module 1) Teaching Bell Handling. This will be held at St. Peter’s, Bournemouth on 9th March 2019 with tutor Gill Hughes. In time we plan to host more in the undercroft conference centre.
St. Peter’s has great facilities within its undercrofts, and in time we hope will become known on the ringers-map as a ‘Learning/Ringing Centre’, as the church invests in making the staircase, tower, steeple, bells more accessible to the public and awareness. We are very lucky to home a beautiful heavy ring of 8 by Taylor’s (21cwt in E), recast as a complete set in the 1930’s. The tower is also home to the popular and successful weekly tailored practice night specifically geared towards bell handling.
For more information please contact Tim Kettle, Ringing Master of St. Peter’s.
Please see the document/poster via the link below. As part of the ringing initiative, Ringing for Peace, please print copies of these out, to display/make accessible to congregation members.
All you need to do is change the email address so it is relevant to your tower.
If anyone needs assistance doing this, please let me know.
Vicki Chapman, Ringing Remembers Project Co-ordinator, writes:
Hopefully you will have seen the Ringing Remembers update published in last week’s Ringing World. However, it would be great if you could spread the word throughout your networks to ensure that all new ringers are registering to be counted towards our target of 1,400 new recruits to join us for ringing on Armistice Day this year.
The Armistice 100 Ringing Remembers website https://cccbr.org.uk/ringingremembers/?rf=34 is now open. The website also gives you some information and useful links regarding the Ringing Remembers campaign including some resources to help you with any publicity. Some Association’s will have already had some leaflets and posters however, I will be sending out more in the coming weeks, especially to those areas that have not yet received any. If you’ve already had some, but would like some more, please get in touch.
To register, click on the Register link which then presents a number of options:
New Ringer – for those who are completely new, have not contacted a local tower and want to be connected with a teacher, we will then match them up with either an ART teacher, or your Association’s nominated contact;
Already Learning – for those that may have gone straight to a local tower and started to learn to ring, in which case please include where;
Returning Ringer – for anyone who has come back to ringing after a period of absence, and therefore unlikely to need to be put in touch with a teacher or Association.
Once they have answered a few simple questions, they will be added to the Armistice 100 database and counted towards our 1,400.
If you were contacted regarding someone wanting to learn to ring in your area, it would be extremely helpful if you could send us an update of how students that have been passed to you are progressing. Have they been contacted? Has a teacher been assigned, if so who? Have they started lessons yet? And even if they’ve decided it’s not for them after all. That way we can really see how many new recruits will be ready to join us for ringing on Armistice Day.
During February the Ringing Remembers Facebook page was launched https://www.facebook.com/groups/RingingRemembers/ . The CCCBR President wrote an introduction/welcome post. The Big Ideas Twitter account (https://twitter.com/Big_Ideas_Co )has regular Ringing Remembers updates and the hashtag #RingingRemembers is being shared in posts. Both are useful if you want to spread the word about any taster sessions or recruitment events you might be hosting. Do please keep me informed and let me know if you need any help advertising your event.
If you have any peals or quarters planned to mark the anniversary of a WW1 ringers death, please let me know so we can help you mark the occasion and if you need any help with publicity.
Ringing Remembers Project Co-ordinator
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Representative
Registered Charity Number: 270036
Phil Ramsbottom is a member of the St. Martin’s Guild, and an ART teacher.
- In the light of many years experience, the writer recommends improving the teaching of method ringing in the following way:
Move away from teaching Plain Bob Doubles which is leading to losing many recruits early in the learning process.
- Use other ways of teaching proper method ringing, such as Bastow, to provide a more direct and quicker route into ringing the basic lines which ringers use throughout their ringing lives.
- Use other techniques to teach learners (… our future ringers) and in doing so, ensure they leave the tower after every practice having achieved something and with a real sense of achievement. That way we will keep more recruits.
Plain Bob Doubles: the long tradition
For as many years as I can remember, Plain Bob Doubles has been the vehicle for introducing new ringers to changeringing, be it plain hunting on the treble or ringing ‘inside’.
Equally, for as many years as I can remember, it’s very rarely that I’ve not witnessed a new recruit struggling for many more weeks than should be allowed trying to get to grips with the basic ideas of learning a Blue Line and converting it into actions whilst ringing a bell.
Many’s the time I’ve witnessed a pupil learning to plain hunt on the treble, the backstrokes into 3rds and 5ths place always seeming to be a problem. When it comes to learning to ring the method inside, again I have seen too many (far too many) managing a plain course
after months of trying after which it seems to be another six months or more of endless 120’s keeping them as observation bell.
During this stage we seem to lose far too many new recruits, which considering the hundreds of man hours invested in getting this far is an intolerable waste of teaching time. We’re teaching Bob Doubles (and very badly at that) and not teaching ropesight. I have asked many fellow ringers why this attachment to Bob Doubles, only to be told: “Well a pupil can learn to make seconds, far places, dodge in 3-4 up and down all in the same method”.
This is not a persuasive argument: a learner driver, for example, doesn’t attempt to do three point turns or hill starts in their first lesson. The individual skills required are learnt separately, one at a time, slowly coming together in order to gain competence. We need to introduce a system for teaching the individual basic manoeuvres used in methods and in doing so a system which will help familiarize the pupil with, and help them to develop, ropesight. Bob Doubles is not that method.
Plain Hunting with elementary ropesight
It must be said that, for what follows, the use of a wipe clean board and pens in the tower will assist greatly, but only in order to illustrate the Blue Lines immediately prior to ringing without the need for weeks of revision beforehand which often ‘put off’ the learner.
As I mentioned above, most learners (or least the ones I’ve witnessed) take more than a few weeks to get to grips with the mechanics of plain hunting on 5, normally memorizing the numbers, which lets face it, isn’t difficult. Only when touches are embarked on do they have their first taste of needing ropesight and thus more weeks are added to the process.
So, simplify it. Begin by plain hunting on just 2 bells. For what follows, assume that 6 bells are always being rung and the pupil is on the treble. The pupil simply learns to lead for a whole turn, make seconds over the second and lead again. Just four changes but usually easily achieved after only a couple of attempts. Once competent at this, again probably after only a few minutes, then call a different bell into seconds place telling the pupil to work out which bell prior to saying ‘go’ once more. Progressively, giving less time for the pupil to find the seconds place bell (i.e. call a bell into seconds immediately followed by ‘go’). Already the pupil is grasping basic ropesight and after only say 10 or fifteen minutes at the very most. If possible, try and get this far without interruption, i.e. calling stand to ring something else.
The added bonus of this is that the pupil goes home having achieved changeringing by the end of practice night, albeit very basic, unaided as opposed leaving the tower wondering: “Will I ever be able to ring Bob Doubles” which I’ve heard said many times.
We then move on to plain hunting on 3 bells. Apply the same rules as above, giving plenty of practice first with bells 2 and 3 in the correct place moving on to having different bells in 2nds and 3rds place. Don’t feel the need to leave 4, 5 and 6 as cover bells, get them involved too as it all benefits the learner.
Stating the blindingly obvious, now do the same again on 4 bells. Once able to do this with the bell positions changed round, there’s a several things to try next. Firstly while still ringing on 6, ring a plain course or touch of Plain Bob Minimus, with 5 and 6 covering.
Secondly, do the same but starting from a different change other than rounds and also with say 4 and 6 or 3 and 6 as cover bells. Thirdly, try the same but using a method where the treble returns to lead passing the bells in a different order. And lastly, if a suitable band is to hand, try a plain course of Little Bob Minor. The pupil will most likely quickly remember the numbers to get through a plain course, but having developed at least some ropesight in the
earlier exercises, moving on to ring touches doesn’t usually, and shouldn’t, cause too much difficulty.
In all my experience of teaching, I’ve rarely had to go beyond two weeks of practices to achieve the above, although time allocation of the evening might need to be slightly more in favour of the learner, – but look at the payback!
At this point, despite not having yet attempted hunting on 5, move on to ringing inside, and yes, on 4 bells not 5.
Bastow Little Court Bob Minimus
Allow me now to introduce what I consider to be a rather wonderful little method called Bastow which, whilst not stretching the skills of your average ringer, is the best thing I’ve ever discovered for introducing learners to ringing methods inside and ropesight.
By way of comparison I have reproduced the method here, and below, I’ve shown the more usually preferred Plain Bob Doubles. Now ask yourselves this, if you were to show the average learner these two diagrams, which of the two Blue Lines are they most likely to want to learn first? I’ve always had the same reply, – the easiest. Now call me biased, but are there any ringers out there who honestly think that the line for Plain Bob Doubles is the easier of the two? I seriously doubt it, and yet this seems to be the normal approach to teaching method ringing inside.
At this stage it’s also worth pointing out that it’s possible to get a total novice band as far as this stage without needing additional assistance. Starting hunting on just 2 bells and working upwards in numbers can be done with just one ringer present who
understands plain hunting.
Likewise, once a band has got this far, it’s possible to get the same band ringing courses of Bastow with only one experienced ringer. Try doing that with Bob Doubles. Ok, it’s probably been done somewhere but it’s MUCH harder work.
So far, our ‘learner’ has been ringing the treble bell to all the hunting. So, lets keep life simple for them and keep them ringing the treble, – after all, they’ve got used to it by now. To do this we simply start the method in a different place, the second becomes the hunt bell (starting by leading and then making seconds etc…) and all the treble does is this^^.
The purpose of this is to get our pupil to learn how to move towards a dodging position and then perform dodges in 3-4 up and 3-4 down.
To begin with we can help them, for example by explaining that they won’t be dodging with the second: the first dodge is with the last bell they meet at the back; and the other dodge is with the remaining bell.
Once this is mastered, and again usually quite quickly, then start changing the numbers round, and as was done in the plain hunting, introducing other bells into the changes. Say, for example, starting from 153246 with 4 and 6 covering.
Remember, wherever possible, as with all the previous exercises, the ringing should be on 6 bells. It’s also worth noting that I don’t advocate the usual practice of learning the sequence of work, other than it’s simply 3-4 up followed by 3-4 down, another factor which makes this a more appealing way of learning method ringing.
So where do we go from here? Thinking logically, and to avoid the tedium of learning the sequence of work, extend the Bastow to all 6 bells, and keeping our learner on the treble we now have a line which looks like this.
This I’m sure you’ll agree is starting to look like something we recognize as being of
some use, say almost Treble Bob on 6, or half of Little Bob Minor.
From experience, the learner won’t gasp at the prospect of going up to 6ths place for the first time. It’s simply the next dodging position to them. Again, by way of guidance, explain that having done the 3-4 up dodge, simply pass the next bell and then dodge again with
the one after that. Then lie for 2 blows dodging with the bell which comes up to meet you at the back. The only difficulty I’ve experienced is showing the learner how to pick out the bell for the 3-4 down dodge, but as with everything so far, this is more
often than not learned quickly.
Again, the numbers may well be learnt without trying but by this stage that’s not such a bad thing as we have a learner whom we can now move around a bit and get used to ringing different bells. For example, ringing the method correctly with the treble as the hunt bell and the learner ringing the second and/or the third. Doing this negates the need to start from anything other than rounds there being things we can now move on to which will help to develop the ropesight we’re trying to achieve.
After that, one of the next logical steps is adding the dodges in 1-2 and then trebling to an appropriate method. The other alternative, having mastered this line, is to then ring the second to Little Bob pointing out the need not to dodge with the treble in 3-4
at the relevant point. That being said, there’s no reason where these two options can’t be run concurrently. Once these are out of the way there are many different paths to take. Personally I head towards learning the Bobs and then on to Plain Bob Minor and splicing it with Little Bob, even if only in plain courses at first.
- Stop teaching Plain Bob Doubles and wondering why we lose so many recruits at this stage in the learning process.
- Introduce a means of teaching proper method ringing, and by that, have a different but far more direct and quicker route into ringing the basics of the lines we ring throughout our ringing lives.
- Teach our learners (and our future ringers) in a way which means they leave the tower after every practice feeling as though they’ve achieved something and not just got better at something, as opposed to the usual: “Come back next week and we’ll have another go at it”. They don’t always come back next week – and it’s too late then!
Your comments are welcome on this article – scroll down to post publicly, or click here to email the author
We need several new ringers if bellringing at Overton is to continue.
Contact Liz Lewis
Sparsholt tower near Winchester, welcomes new ringers, young or old. Lessons are available on Mondays from 7.0 to 7.30pm on a one to one basis, which is just before the main practice at 7.30 pm. We have 6 bells on a ground floor ring. Anyone interested, or just want to have a try, should contact Jenny Watson
Sherfield on Loddon would definitely like some new recruits and have used the Armistice Centenary as the basis of a recruitment article in the parish (village) magazine.
Great news – to date we have 16 new ringers in our Guild area!
The majority have been introduced to their tower already and the five most recent enquiries, received 8th January, will be contacted very soon.
St Michel du Valle Guernsey, welcomes all wishing to learn to ring
The Alderney ringers are delighted to record that June Banister has passed the highest level of the Learning the Ropes pathway to success in ringing & is now a qualified Change Ringer. The training scheme was launched 5 years ago – there are only 79 ‘graduates’ so far reaching Level 5 and two of them are on Alderney:-)
Maurice will be enjoying his 93rd birthday on Weds 13th Dec so at practice on Mon 11th we rang 93 changes of Cambridge Minor before singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and enjoying a slice of birthday cake.
Gary Marsh writes:
The Basic Raising and Lowering course held at St. Mary’s Church, Bishopstoke was a terrific event. It had an air of nervous celebration about it as we arrived at the church and signed in with Christine. I say nervous, as we knew as beginner ringers that we would soon be tackling what often seems to be the most challenging and coordination defying tasks of raising, and particularly, lowering, a bell. It felt like a celebration as we had got to the point in our ringing careers where our handling had moved on enough to be trusted to rise to the challenge of learning these new skills without breaking anything!
With six tutors and ten on the course we got the chance to be instructed alongside fellow raising & lowering novices, sharing instructors, ropes and experiences. It made for a great sense of community. Our tutors were calm, encouraging and excited to be sharing their knowledge.
So us ten not-so-novices can move forward with our ringing, able to more fully participate at our home tower with our potential raised and anxieties lowered. The milestone of making the first loop complete in a safe and welcoming place, well away from our own woodwork!
Gary Marsh (46), Wonston Tower, ringing ten months.
And Romy Coldman writes:
After two years of ringing and never really mastering the mysteries of raising and lowering, I jumped at the chance when I heard about the course.
The day was very well organised where we had one tutor to two learners. We all had a full two hours of individual practice and assessment less the much needed tea break after working up a sweat. As a learner, I certainly need more practice until I can raise and lower with confidence, but the tips and skills gained from the course were invaluable.
Many thanks to Andy Ingram, Christine Knights-Whittome and all the tutors – especially Mike, my tutor, for his patience and encouraging words.
I would highly recommend this course not only for beginners but for anyone who wants to improve their skills.
Romy Coldman (Hinton Admiral)
Christchurch is aiming to recruit up to six new ringers. Lessons take place on Monday evenings.
The first steps of learning to ring are all about handling and controlling a bell. Later, if you plan to ring heavier bells (or much lighter ones) you may need to brush up these skills and take them to a new level.
Posts about Bell Handling on this website:
- C&S District NEW Training Morning. Brockenhurst. Saturday 21st March 9:30am until 12:00noon. February 21, 2020
- Association of Ringing Teachers/ART Training Scheme: Course places available. January 17, 2019
- Overton Bellringers are recruiting now February 9, 2018
- Sparsholt bellringers welcome learners January 19, 2018
- Sherfield on Loddon Recruiting New Ringers January 13, 2018
- RINGING REMEMBERS RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN January 13, 2018
- Kickstart your ringing career – Summer School in London Aug 21st-25th July 24, 2017
- Two trainees write about last week’s Guild Raising and Lowering Course June 16, 2017
- Bell Handling April 3, 2017
- September 2017 Ringing Courses at Tulloch April 3, 2017
- New Book from ART: A Ringer’s Guide to Learning the Ropes® January 20, 2017
- New Video Launched – Raising and Lowering Skills December 1, 2016
- Learn to Ring in the Candover Valley October 11, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Ryde September 9, 2016
- Selborne Welcomes Beginners to Bellringing September 7, 2016
- Join the Band at King’s Somborne September 6, 2016
- Training Places Available at Highclere September 6, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Blackmoor September 6, 2016
- Adult Training Places Available at Overton September 6, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Eling August 13, 2016
- Are you Recruiting? Have you put that on this website yet? August 11, 2016
- Training Places Available for Bellringers at West Meon August 3, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Dummer August 1, 2016
- New Bell Ringers Learning at Newport (IoW) June 20, 2016
- Alton Learners and Improvers on Tour June 10, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Ringwood February 20, 2016
- News from Blackmoor ** New Recruits Welcome February 19, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Christchurch Priory January 9, 2016
- Learn to Ring at Eling December 19, 2015
- A Bell Ringing Lesson for a young ringer… December 9, 2015
- Learn to ring at Holy Trinity Church, Wonston November 19, 2015
- Learn to ring on the Isle of Wight November 6, 2015
- Learn to Ring at Brockenhurst March 19, 2015
- Learn to ring in Bournemouth February 21, 2015
- Learn to ring in Minstead (New Forest) June 16, 2014
2 peals of bells, a simulator, handbells, patient & friendly ART tutors and no neighbours – all add up to a winning combination
Learn to ring week Sept 18th – 22nd
Are you struggling to get enough ‘rope-time’ in your home tower? 18 places are available @ £50 per head for 5 days of total immersion in the fun of ringing. ART registered tutors will lead students through bell handling, change ringing in hand and working with a simulator to produce ringers fit for the 21st century. We will liaise with your local tower for easy integration when you get home. 5 days of concentrated handling/listening/ rounds/theory & vocabulary – what better way to spend a week? We will provide a light lunch of soup/sandwiches & all day tea & coffee. Accommodation available locally, we can make recommendations but you must book your own.
Improve your ringing week, Sept 25th – 29th
Can you ring a bell unaided but want to polish your handling? perfect your raising & lowering, work on your call changes, understand ropesight & work towards plain hunt. Learn about plain bob, what does it mean to dodge. Fancy a go on handbells? we can help:-)
18 places available for a week of intensive tuition covering handling, hunting and bob doubles. Learn to ring handbells. Perfect your striking with a simulator
For £50 pp we will provide a week of patient tuition, easy to ring bells & friendly support – extend your horizons at Tulloch. Light lunch and all day tea & coffee provided. Accommodation available locally, we can make recommendations but you must book your own.
This is an opportunity to get on track with the best team sport/performing art/mathematical puzzle in the UK.
For more info & to book your place please see www.tullochbells.com
In agreement with The Ringing World the series of 8 articles titled ‘The Education Column’ by David Smith, published during 2016, have now been added to the Education area of the website. Links are also below.
|1. Introductory rumblings|
|2. What is Bastow? Why is it useful?|
|3. How Quick are your Sixes?|
|4. Little Bob and Penultimate|
|5. Let’s be Original!|
|7. Down Mexico way|
|8. Back to Basics|
With Grandsire Doubles and Triples behind us**, the Education Committee is turning its attention to the Listening Skills course on Saturday 8th April, based at Lockerley. This is a full-day course, including lunch, and covers all sorts of different things which ringers may not have tried (in addition to ringing). It is for ALL abilities, including relative beginners, and is a lot of fun. Expect the unexpected! **click to read a review of the Grandsire course
If you, or others within your tower, are still thinking about this, could I just remind you that the closing date for the receipt of applications is Wednesday 22nd March – not very far away! – and places are already three-quarters full. Courses so far this year have all been over-subscribed, resulting in waiting lists, so if you think this would be of interest to you or your fellow-ringers could I suggest you send in your applications a.s.a.p. In case they have been mislaid, further copies (both Word and pdf versions) of the poster and application form are attached.
Any queries before you take the plunge – do please give me a call or email me (see below)
The Learning Curve resources have a new URL https://cccbr.org.uk/services/education/the-learning-curve/
If you have not browsed them before then now’s the time!
In November, last year I attended an education training day arranged by the Guild for Double Norwich Court Bob Major (DNCBM). Followup from this day, some of the attendees of the course organised a practice evening at Eling, Southampton and the band at Eling tower kindly gave up their evening practice to support the learners from the Guilds Education Day, and we rang DNCBM all evening. This was a fabulous evening. Lots of support and encouragement. After this practice I was asked to consider organising a practice in my local area, Basingstoke. I found the request daunting but went with it.
I approached my home tower St Michael, Basingstoke to see if the tower could be used for such a practice. A simulator practice was offered and a date for 28th February 2017 was confirmed. I posted the date, time, venue and method to be rung on the Guild website with the help and support of the Webmaster. They created me a link so those that were interested could contact me direct.
I asked the Tower Secretary at St Michael, and the District Secretary, to publish the event to capture those that may not have access to the Guild website.
Two learners took advantage of the opportunity and nine helpers volunteered to assist on the evening. We had fantastic and generous support with people giving up their time and traveling from all over the county to support. The Guild Master and members of the Education Committee have been so supportive in the run up to the practice evening, they gave me plenty of advice and contacts prior to the evening which helped eliminate any concerns or challenges that presented themselves while organising the evening.
The Guild Education Days are great and the idea that learners should seek to consolidate and embed their learning from the wider ringing community is proactive and innovative, especially where more complex methods may be harder to practice within home towers.
By calling on the expertise within the Guild, the necessary rope time to learn the method has been achieved. Creating the opportunity to consolidate the learning so quickly after the initial training has paid off, not just with individual confidence with ringing the method but also tapping into peoples enthusiasm to help grow the skills within the Guild. I have had lots of positive feedback from other people who have heard about this and I have had suggestions of possible methods for future practices. The opportunity and support is there in the ringing community and I would encourage others to think about doing what we have done. With this in mind I have decided to do something similar for Stedman Doubles and this is what has happened…
- Stedman Doubles practice Saturday 1st April 2017 10:30-13:00 at Herriard **Full
Hello everyone one, at the end of my last article about Double Norwich Court Bob Major, I said watch this space for a Stedman Doubles practice. Well I have to say that the practice is over subscribed, which is amazing. If you are disappointed that you have not been able to get on to the practice this time around I can organise another.
I’m a great fan of ringing courses and have been to Sparsholt (the predecessor of Bradfield), Hereford and Bradfield many times both as a student and helper but not for many years. But last year I decided that it was time for another visit.
When applying students have to choose the group that they think will be suitable for the stage they will be at about 4 months down the line so best to consult with your tower captain to get advice. Some people are over-ambitious while others don’t realise how near they are to a giant leap forward. For helpers you simply tick the groups you are confident you can keep right in. I ticked the boxes up to Plain Bob Minor but omitting Bell Experience. No learner needs me wandering all over the place trying to figure out who to follow in call changes!
I was very lucky my flight was on time so I knew I’d be in plenty of time to get to Reading where I was being collected by another helper and taken for lunch. But I was just too early and had to hang around for 2 hours until off-peak train fares kicked in. Next time I’ll go a few days early and make the cost of my flight worthwhile. There must have been nearly 20 of us helpers sitting in the pub garden on the bank of the river at Pangbourne and it was a wrench to tear ourselves away to check into the course.
Although I’ve been many times before I was semi-anonymous this time because I’d previously used my married name. Even Margaret Winterbourne, who organised the accommodation had no idea I would be there. But I don’t really melt into the background so my cover was soon blown. One sad thing for me was how many of my old friends were not there; some had died while others had simply dropped out due to old age. But it was lovely to see so many young tutors.
Bradfield College is a vast site and no matter how many times I’m there it still takes me at least a day until I can find my way around. The accommodation used was in different blocks than the last time I was there. Smashing new blocks though mine was right at the top of the hill. I wonder if Margaret might have taken pity and allocated me a room nearer sea level if she’d realised I was the old girl? But at least it was quiet up there, well away from the beer room.
Those who book in early have a couple of hours spare to get their bearings or simply rest before the action begins. Kicking off is the welcome meeting hosted by The Two Mikes. They can rival Ant and Dec any day! The tutors are introduced, ‘elf ’n’ safety covered and everyone separates off for the first theory session with their group. This usually starts with introductions and sorting out car sharing and most importantly finding out whether any locals have recommendations on pubs for lunch on the Friday and Saturday. Then some theory on the group’s method. This year I was helping with Grandsire Doubles which I was pleased with (at the beginning anyway). After 3 days of nothing else it becomes rather tedious and that’s why my favourite group to help on is plain hunt. You get to ring all sorts of doubles methods while the learner plain hunts the treble.
Then evening meal and off to the first tower. Ringing at different towers is an important part of the learning process. They do try to allocate the more challenging bells to the more advanced groups but since they make use of every available tower within an acceptable distance from the college some will be easier than others. But I think this is a good opportunity for those who only ever ring at their home tower to experience other towers and maybe realise how lucky they are at home.
Once back from ringing the options are the brew room, the beer room or back to your accommodation block to put your feet up. You might not feel like collapsing on Thursday evening but you probably will by Saturday evening!
Friday and Saturday follow similar patterns; breakfast followed by an optional session, then off for the day to ring at 4 towers with a pub lunch in between. Returning to the college in time for coffee, followed by a theory session for your group and more optional talks.
On Saturday evening there was a mini ring striking competition which I somehow found myself in a band for. Needless to say we didn’t win; I’m not certain but I think we came 4th (out of 4).
Sunday morning is taken up with optional sessions for students or service ringing for helpers. Then after lunch a final ring.
I may not have been exactly correct on the order of when group sessions and optionals etc are held but rest assured there is a lot happening and you will never have time to be bored. Oh and did I say there is coffee and cake provided at regular intervals throughout the weekend.
The optional sessions vary each year but include handbells, conducting, teaching handling, rope splicing and any number of interesting things, much of it specifically aimed at relatively inexperienced ringers. The best attended sessions are always Steve Coleman’s so if you’re going the advice is to get to his talks early if you want a seat.
I think the course is best suited to those ringers in the bell experience group up to ringing doubles or minor and perhaps triples; partly because less experienced ringers will get more benefit from the whole experience of meeting other ringers, realising that others are also struggling and just simply becoming more aware of the wider world of ringing but also because a course or even half course of Surprise Major takes so long to ring that each student will only get one ring at each tower.
It is a wonderful but very tiring experience but don’t be surprised when you get back to your home tower keen to demonstrate your new skills to find that your mind goes totally blank and you haven’t a clue how to ring the method you rang all weekend. Give your brain a few days to clear and you will reap the rewards.
Bradfield is now taking applications for this year’s course on 17 – 20 August 2017 so why not think about going.
Sue Le Feuvre
“Yes I did” said The Lord Mayor when asked if he’d enjoyed his tower bell ringing Taster Session!!
The Lord Mayor had met with bell ringers before and was keen to have a go at Tower Bell Ringing himself. He met up with a group of Portsmouth ringers at St. Agatha’s Church recently and was “Shown the ropes”.
He had noticed how challenging it can be, physically and mentally, and that young bell ringers get a good deal of fun out of the activity. When young ringers learn and then develop together, in a group, bell ringing is particularly exciting for them especially when they train for, and enter, competitions.
There are now teaching slots available in the Portsmouth area and The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress – who both did very well in their training sessions – are kindly offering their support to match the demand of potential new ringers to the availability and location of local Bell Ringing Coaches.
Local young groups including scouting organisations, church groups, schools and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme would be ideal.
For further information, please see http://wpbells.org
or email the District Secretary, Lisa
Public Relations Officer
Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers.
Tel: 07594 609 366
The Pompey Chimes newspaper (the Portsmouth Diocese paper) recently featured an article and photo of this event which happened in Brighstone. Click to read….
This year’s Essex Ringing Course runs from Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th April. The closing date for applications is Friday 10th February.
Details are at <https://eacr.org.uk/course>
The following is reproduced from that page:
PRACTICAL RINGING SESSIONS
- GROUP A — Improving foundation skills.
- Have you reached the stage in your early ringing career where even if you understand the theory of what you are meant to be doing you are finding doing it an entirely different matter? If so this group is for you. Students in this group will work on their individual ringing skills so that they can improve their bell control, listening and ropesight. This may require time working alone on a bell as an individual with the advice of your tutor, as well as ringing with other ringers. Students will also practise raising and lowering a single bell.
- GROUP B
- A Group for those who can ring Rounds competently and who are ready to take their first steps in call changes and then, possibly, in change ringing on 3 or 4 bells. If you are in any way doubtful about joining Group C, then join Group B; you will still find something to learn and will have the opportunity to fill in steps in your ringing education you may have missed or not appreciated.
- GROUP C
- A Group for those wishing to plain hunt on 5. The opportunity to practise on different rings of bells and in different orders both on the treble and “inside” will be provided. The Group will emphasise the skills required for change ringing and will be learning ropesight and considering striking, as an essential preliminary to ringing the treble. Practice may be given at ringing the treble to Bastow, Minimus and Doubles, to “Stedman Quick Sixes” and to Plain Bob Minimus as appropriate, before progressing to ringing the treble to Plain Bob Doubles.
- GROUP D
- A Group for those who really have ropesight and bell control and are ready to ring the treble to Grandsire Doubles and Plain Bob Minor. It is intended to progress to ringing the treble to touches in both these methods. A number of other methods may be rung to practise the different rhythm of change ringing with six bells.
- GROUP E
- A Group for those who are competent in ringing skills as outlined in the above groups and wishing to learn Plain Bob Doubles on an “inside” bell.
- GROUP F
- A Group for those who are already competent in ringing skills as outlined in the above groups and able to ring touches of Plain Bob Doubles and who wish to learn Plain Bob Minor “inside”. You should be able to treble hunt reliably to touches of Bob Minor before applying for this group; if in any doubt consider applying for Group D.
- GROUP G — Grandsire
- Starting with Doubles and progressing to Triples with calls. Applicants must be proficient in ringing the treble to Grandsire and be able to ring touches of Bob Doubles “inside” to get the full benefit from this option.
- GROUP H — Doubles Beyond Plain Bob & Grandsire
- Would you like more variety on Practice Night? Explore Reverse Canterbury, St Simon’s and other methods or variations which contain a number of different ‘works’ which will be useful in your future ringing career.
- GROUP I — Beyond Bob Minor
- The Group will study and practise several Plain Minor methods (Single / Double Court and Oxford) which introduce many of the building blocks and concepts needed before progressing to Surprise. Methods such as St Clements and Little Bob may also be included. Applicants must be able to ring touches of Plain Bob Minor on an inside bell competently.
- GROUP J — Stedman
- Starting with Doubles and progressing to Triples with calls and theory on extension to Caters and Cinques. You should be proficient in ringing up to Group G to get full benefit from this option.
- GROUP K — Surprise Major
- To get the full benefit from this group applicants must be able to ring Plain Bob Major “inside”, be able to ‘treble bob’ proficiently and have some experience of Treble Bob or Surprise Minor. The Group will start with Cambridge Major and move on to Yorkshire.
- GROUP L — Calling & Conducting Touches
- This Group will start with calling Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles, and progress to Plain Bob and possibly other Minor methods. Students will be actively involved in calling a variety of touches, and will be expected to ring whilst others of the Group are calling. No previous experience of calling is required, but you must be able to ring touches of Grandsire Doubles and Plain Bob Minor “inside” competently.
This article is copied from the TowerTalk Magazine.
Illustrated throughout with colourful photographs, diagrams and interactive activities to help the reader consolidate and check what they have discovered, this book provides a step-by-step guide for ringers from bell handling through to ringing Plain Bob Minor inside.
The fundamentals of ringing are explained in an easy to read, uncomplicated style which will appeal to all age groups. Learning tips are provided to highlight important information and guidance is given on skills building at every stage, with emphasis placed on the importance of developing all the foundation ringing skills.
The book is easy to dip into to find information about each stage of learning. It follows all the Levels of the Learning the Ropes Scheme provided by the Association of Ringing Teachers [ART] and will help ringers progress from handling right up to ringing their first methods and calling their first touches.
Nicki Stuchbury, of Lillingstone Lovell, Buckinghamshire, said “I absolutely love the layout with the colours and diagrams; it is just the sort of resource that I would choose to learn from.” And Veronica Baker of Maids Moreton, also in Buckinghamshire, added “Proficient ringing will not be obtainable without the basics and your chapters have captured this fact.”
The on-line resources that complement Learning the Ropes have been comprehensively reviewed and updated to coincide with the publication of the New Ringer’s Guide. Each key skill is supported by its own web page with appropriate video and audio links in addition to further information and resources for you to print and use in your tower. There are new resources for leading and covering (Level 2), peals & quarter peals (Level 3) and successful dodging and steppingstone methods (Level 4). Why not have a look at www.smartringer.org/ringing?
Ringing at St Michael’s, Swanmore, Ryde, Tuesday 10 January:
Great news from Kieran Downer and the team – there’s so much interest in the bells here (see Pompey Chimes, yes they’re in there – again!) that a weekly practice night is needed! So if you are local and you’d like to find out about bellringing, you’re an absolute beginner or wanting to improve or learn about the uniqueness of 3-bell rounds… see you on Tuesdays from 6.15pm at St Michael’s (Wray Street entrance). Ring the bell outside the vestry door and you will be shown the way to the tower.
Several young learners who started last year getting on very well with handling and getting to grips with all things bells – well done all of you.
Those of you organising tours to the Island will find these unique steel bells are now on the ‘to go to’ list when you are over here, so rise to the challenge! That now makes 15 ringing towers on the Island for you to choose to ring at. Really not enough hours in the day are there? Better make your trip a week and enjoy some of our other world renowned attractions whilst here. Tourist advisers on hand if you need them – just ask!
Whilst occurring outside our Guild, this may be of interest to people wondering “how can I restart ringing at an under-used tower?” RM
Eleanor Wallace Writes:
As some of you may know, I have been working with Mike Pitman recently to try and formulate a plan to get the practices and quarter peal nights up and running at Kingston again. They are such a beautiful ring of bells, and being a Kingston ringer myself for years I hate to see them not being rung as much as they should and going to waste.
As I have finally finished university and returned to the area I now have time to dedicate myself to re-establishing a regular practice night. However, I need as much support from everyone as I can and am asking for your help. Mike and I have come up with a concept of having two practice nights and two quarters a month on a friday so that the bells are rung every week, and we hope that it at least one night a month may appeal to all ringers of any standard, so that people don’t feel pressurised to dedicate themselves every single week.
The below is the monthly structure which I am trying to introduce, and I would love to hear what you guys think, advice etc as have never done anything like this before.
From Friday 3rd March practice nights and quarter peal nights will be resuming at Kingston from 7:30 – 9:00 pm, and we would really love for you to join us. We have a lovely sounding and very easy-going ring of ten bells (tenor 26-3-16) and we want to get them ringing regularly again with the long-term aim
of becoming a supportive teaching tower. We are aiming to create a monthly structure that caters for ringers of all abilities; whether you are a called change ringer or a surprise ringer we hope to provide something for everyone.
1st Friday of the Month – Open Practice Night
Any ringer of any ability who is interested in getting practice at ten bell ringing is more than welcome. Ringing will range from Rounds and Called Changes to Plain Caters and Royal, as well as any six to eight bell ringing if its requested. Whatever you’re learning, come along! Any more advanced ringers who can help out will also be very much appreciated too.
2nd Friday – Advanced Ten Bell Practice
For ringers who want to challenge themselves learning Surprise Royal or just want to keep the cobwebs off. We will be practicing the Standard Eight Surprise Royal methods (and others as time goes on) with a special method to focus on every week.
3rd Friday – Open Quarter Peal
Whatever the method or number of bells, if you fancy ringing a quarter peal then let us know and we will try to organise it for you. This night is aimed at giving people of all standards quarter peal practice and achieving firsts in method etc. Just pop an email to Eleanor Wallace (form below)
4th Friday – Advanced Quarter Peal
We will be working through the Standard Eight Surprise Royal (and others afterwards) quarter peals. If you’re interested in getting involved, achieving firsts in Surprise Royal etc. just send an email to Eleanor:
- ***UPDATED 4th JULY*** – Latest CCCBR Guidance on Coronavirus and Returning to Ringing
We had a further update from the Church of England Recovery Group last night that Public Health England (PHE) now wants to issue specific guidance about bell ringing but they will not be able to publish it until next week. They expect it to be based on what we have produced. Although the Church has published guidance, which we shared, they are understandably nervous about ringing this weekend in advance of PHE publication, especially if it gets into the press.
We had a conference call with Brendan McCarthy and Mark Betson of the Recovery Group this morning and whilst they stressed that anything published is guidance not instruction, they would really appreciate us waiting to restart ringing until after the PHE guidance is published. Given this is a new relationship that could be very important to us, we do not want to rock this boat for the sake of a week and some disappointment.
In the meantime, we have accumulated all of the questions we have received from ringers on the current guidance into a set of FAQs which we have publish on the website. This will include such things as why the guidance is still 2m rather than 1m, and whether family members can ring on adjacent bells. That can be found here:
We are studying the Scottish, Welsh and Irish guidance but in all cases church opening appears to be on a slower timetable than the Church of England.
The Church of England, working with UK Government, has permitted bells to be rung in its churches from 4th July, accompanying the opening of cathedral and church buildings to the public. It is on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance on these pages. The full announcement can be found here, and the reference to bells is on page 9. The Central Council will continue to pursue a similar situation for other jurisdictions in which there are bells. These pages give all current and previous guidance (to the extent it has not been superceded). We appreciate not all jurisdictions are the same, even within the United Kingdom. The guidance on these pages was agreed following a meeting held between representatives of the Council and Mark Betson, convenor of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, and Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s Adviser for Medical Ethics, Health, and Social Care Policy. The set of Guidance Notes published has been endorsed by them and forms the basis for the resumption of ringing. The pace of returning to ringing will disappoint many bell ringers who are missing the activity that is so much part of our lives. The Church is also missing the contribution that bell ringers make and wants ringing to resume. 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. This is not a return to ringing all our bells as we were used to, or to do anything other than service ringing. It is the start of the road back to normality. Not all churches will be opening for services on 4th July. It is important to work with incumbents and church authorities for your own tower. Ringing remains at the express permission of the incumbent. 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. 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 will be reviewed at least monthly, or inline with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies. which can be found at the bottom of the page. For instance the effectiveness of wearing face masks is currently under review and may be recommended.
- 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
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 15 June 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)
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.
- What are we worried about? (PDF)
- Message from the Guild Master on the Latest CCCBR Guidance
I am sure you have been keenly following the latest CCCBR guidance about returning to ringing and how they have been working with the CofE on establishing safe working practices to do so.
The CofE have now released their latest update here.
This generally approves limited return to ringing from the 4th July SUBJECT TO APPROVAL FROM YOUR LOCAL INCUMBENT, following a risk assessment, and in line with the detailed guidance available on the Central Council’s website. In essence, any approved ringing has to be in sessions of a maximum of 15 minutes, only once in 72 hours, and by bands of ringers who stay on the same bells, two metres apart”.
Links to the C of E and CCCBR statements can also be found on the Guild website.
You should read carefully the guidelines and advice from both the CofE and the CCGBR and stay within the guidelines for the safety of yourself and those in your band.
After 100 plus days of lockdown I feel that this gives us a hopeful glimpse of a way forward, however the 2 metre distancing is still a significant limitation even in the largest of towers. It is probably worth however, starting discussions with your incumbent to at least set the wheels in motion for a return to ringing hopefully in the not too distant future.
We hope that most towers should not have any problems undertaking the belfry risk assessment, however if you are unable to carry this out, please contact Martin Barnes (Belfry Stewardship Committee), who will coordinate with someone local to support you.
With best wishes to you all.
Master – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers
- Contact Thomas Wilding
Email: Use Form
- Guild Database Project Team
A small project team was set up as part of the Guild Action Plan, reviewed at the 2019 AGM, to look again at creating a Guild Membership Database. Previous attempts had proved too costly, so a cheaper, simpler solution was required. There was also a requirement for the Guild to be GDPR compliant.
The project team members are:
- Master – Pete Jordan
- Vice-Master – Allan Yalden
- Hon General Secretary – Adrian Nash
- Safeguarding Officer – John Davey
- Mike Winterbourne (as Immediate Past Master)
- Andrew Glover (for the Guild Communications Team)
- Roger and Cathy Booth (for IT support)
Objectives of the project
- To set up a mechanism to reach a greater proportion of the membership than existing social media (The Guild Facebook page has 299 subscribers, but a significant number live outside the Guild. Win-Port has 213 members). The Guild has almost 1,500 members.
- There will be a membership database hosted on Google forms/sheets covering all members. Once added to the membership database, members will receive an invite to join a separate communications database, hosted on Mailchimp.
- To avoid communications messages becoming ‘junk mail’, those on the communications database will opt in only to receive relevant correspondence, which will be filtered by a predetermined list of ‘interests’.
- Create a Communications database on Mailchimp allowing members to sign up to receive communications of interest to them and also allow them to unsubscribe to any areas not of interest.
GDPR regulations came into effect in May 2018 so we are long overdue obtaining the consent of all of our members to hold personal data such as names, addresses, email address and phone numbers published in the Guild Annual Report or on the Guild website, or held by Guild and District officers.
The second part was the introduction of the online Guild Membership Database consent form to replace a previous paper version. This is being rolled out.
Further stages will include the establishment of a communications database for members to opt into, and working with Districts to enhance direct communication with members and make the collection of subscriptions and the production of the Annual Report easier and more accurate.
The project team can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
- CCCBR Guidance on Returning to Service Ringing
The scene is set for a cautious return to ringing. It won’t be all the bells, it won’t be all the ringers, but it will be enough for ringing to be part of the resumption of church services and remind people which day is Sunday.
Returning to ringing is a subject dear to all our hearts. Simulators, Ringing Room and Zoom meetings are just not the same although we should applaud all those initiatives. On 12th June bellringing appeared in a list of activities which cannot take place in churches. That made us determined to find out who was advising government so that we could make our case. All the hard work being done on guidance and risk assessments is useless if the keys to the ringing room door have been taken away.
I am pleased to say we have now made a lot of progress. The people with the metaphorical keys to our ringing room doors are Mark Betson, convenor of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, and Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s Adviser for Medical Ethics, Health, and Social Care Policy. On Monday this week, Mark Regan, Phil Barnes and I had a Zoom call with them to position ringing in the church recovery plan. Note this is Church of England only initially. We intend to have similar discussions in Wales and Scotland and provide what support we can to those in other countries. Hopefully some of this guidance is useful anyway and can be adapted to local circumstances.
Our goal for the meeting was just to establish the Council as the trusted advisor to the CofE team and hence government on bell ringing. We had sent them our suite of six guidance notes, which have now been published on the Central Council website which they were very happy to approve.
Having not really considered bell ringing specifically before, they are 100% committed to making ringing part of the return of church activities. In the first instance though it must be just that. Our return will be about Sunday ringing as part of the church’s mission, not practice or self-indulgence, though they understood our longer-term desire and need to resume that as well. Mark Betson said it would be really good to get ringing going again, reminding everyone which day is Sunday, and letting the bells proclaim that the church is open. He wanted “a package of good news” to be launched together.
Brendan McCarthy was particularly cautious of any misinterpretation of the drop in the UK Government’s social distancing rule from 2m to 1m. He cited all the guidance coming to him that 2m was not sacrosanct, but that going from 2m to 1m represents a 10 fold increase in risk, and that he would remain cautious saying “Our first job is not to kill anyone.” Our return to ringing will therefore be cautious, socially distanced ringing, for a very limited period of 15 minutes, and only for services.
Mark and Brendan had meetings with Public Health England and UK Government that afternoon and this week. They promised to include ringing in the plans and coordinate with us. We advised that we would need a couple of weeks to get restarted, allowing for maintenance inspections, and they would clear such access with the Director of Cathedrals and Church Buildings. They were happy to link our Guidance Notes from the main Churchcare website where their primary Coronavirus guidance sits.
Ringing three or four bells for 15 minutes for a service is not what keeps most of us ringing. The novelty is going to wear off quite soon. It could be a long time before peals or even quarters are possible, and we won’t be able to do any teaching. However it is an essential part of the strategy for us getting ringing going again that the church values our contribution, and we have managed to get them to include us in their plans and see ringing as a positive that we want it to be. If we do not get bells ringing for Sunday service in this first phase of resumption then it will slow down later phases of opening up. It will reinforce the impression of us that some in the church have.
We don’t know exactly which day this will be from yet, although some Dioceses have said they expect to have services after 4th July. We received specific confirmation that access to towers to check bell installations ready for ringing was approved, provided it is done safely by more than one person, socially distanced.
We therefore need to try and find ways of making this positive. Perhaps it is the opportunity to get ringing going in all those churches which rarely have their bells rung at all. It could be the start of something for those churches.
Finally I would like to thank all my colleagues on the Central Council Executive and Workgroups (SMWG in particular) who have worked very hard in the last couple of weeks (and Giles Blundell for a dose of inspiration).
The full guidance can be found here https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/
- President’s Blog #12
Three months after most of us last rang tower bells there is a glimmer of hope. Bell ringing resumption, in a very limited way, is on the Church’s agenda alongside choirs and organs. Well done to Mark Regan for finding who it was in the Church of England who is advising government, and setting up a meeting with them yesterday morning. A separate report of this meeting will be published shortly, when the accompanying guidance notes have been checked by the Church (just in case they changed their mind today!)
Ringing for Grenfell highlighted how low down the pecking order of consultees ringers are when anything to do with ringing is considered. The Diocese of London announced that bells would ring for Grenfell on the same day that the Government published its guidance on opening churches confirmed that bellringing is still not a permitted activity. This is one of the reasons we are trying to raise the profile of ringing. We are firmly on the radar now and await developments.
The first of my three favourite ringing days of the year didn’t happen in fine style. I certainly benefitted from having at least 10 fewer pints. Matthew Tosh and his team’s wonderful “Not The Twelve Bell Live” helped compensate some of the 1,000 or so ringers who might otherwise have headed to Sheffield for the 12 Bell Final.
Virtual ringing continues to entertain and amuse. I laughed out loud at a comment in the Take-Hold Lounge when someone said they had an enquiry from someone who wanted to learn to ring and they were asked what timezone they were in! That must be the first time that has ever happened!
The custodian of the Lair of the Snow Tiger, Mark Davies (aka Embee Dee) put together a Zoom quarter peal of Stedman Triples with ringers in eight different countries. Is there no limit to how far boundaries can be pushed? “We choose to ring Stedman Triples in Ringing Room not because it is easy but because it is hard.”
Don Morrison has provided a US server for Graham John’s Handbell Stadium. How long before the rather disconcerting “Men in Black” avatars are replaced by people of your choice? Or maybe toy characters! I would so like to ring handbells with a band of muppets.
There is a question of whether any of these ringing tools that have emerged in lockdown will survive and become ongoing support for ringers. Richard Johnston has founded ‘The Dumbbell Society’ and is organising practices for people with dumbbells linked together via Abel and a dose of magic. They have already managed to ring Bob Doubles on distributed simulators, and this is potentially very interesting.
The Council’s Strategic Priorities have now been published on the website, having been serialised in The Ringing World. These were developed at the start of the year and are guiding Council Workgroup activities. They can be found here
Julia Cater’s working party looking at gender imbalance in ringing is well into the data gathering and research phase. Her team of seven will be publishing a website shortly and via that will be asking people with stories to tell to get in touch.
Bryn Reinstadler has kindly agreed to develop a new multi media publication on learning to call and conduct. She is going to focus particularly on making sure it doesn’t matter where in the circle you call from, to try and get us away from feeling that you have to ring a back bell to conduct.
I am delighted that we are continuing to get new people to work on the Council’s initiatives. The latest recruit is Paul Mounsey, who has agreed to represent the College Youths in the Council’s initiative that no ringer should meet a barrier to their own progression (Strategic Priority 2). The officers of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths have also agreed to support this in principle.
By the time you read this in The Ringing World a new leader of the Historical & Archive Workgroup will be in place, taking over the reins from Doug Hird. Historical & Archive covers a range of activities from the Library to the Carter Ringing Machine. Next month, workgroup member Gareth Davies will be doing a star turn on the Churches Conservation Trust webinar series – his lecture ‘The Ringing Isle’ is on 16th July.
Would your project benefit from £1,000? Ecclesiastical Insurance runs regular awards programmes under which they give £1,000 to whichever causes have received the most nominations. A bit like choosing your favourite charity at a supermarket checkout. Does anyone else always just put it in the tub with the least tokens to even it up? (When I first went to ringers’ teas I used to have pieces of the least popular cakes because I didn’t want anyone to think their cake was unpopular. Does anyone else do that?) The Central Council managed to win one in 2017 and the Peterborough DG has also benefited. It just needs some coordination. Rather than apply again, we thought it would be better to bring it to others’ attention and see if anyone can suggest a project we can all support.
David Smith and Tim Hine in the V&L group have recruited Nich Wilson to lead on Ringing Centre strategy co-ordinating with ART which has its network of ART Hubs. Nich emailed us out of the blue a couple of months ago and said he was interested in getting involved so it’s great to find him a project.
Ringing Around Devon, the quarterly newsletter of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, was circulated and had an astonishing 18 pages of tightly pack material. And that’s in a period of no ringing! Maybe we should circulate more lockdown newsletters and share more experiences. I remember a long time ago there was a competition for the best newsletter. Tony Kench submitted the College Youths Newsletter, which was produced by him with great pride, only for it to be discounted on the grounds of being “too professional”. A great injustice at the time!
- Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers – Lockdown Newsletter – June 2020
Ringing in Lockdown
This is the first of an occasional series of newsletters being sent out to inform members about what is happening with ringing during the easing of Lockdown and to help prepare for the resumption of regular ringing.
It is being sent to all tower correspondents and Guild and District Officers whose e-mail address is published in the Guild Annual Report, and those on our database. It is important that we reach as many members of our Guild as possible, so please do forward this e-mail on to the other members of your band.
Guild Membership Database
The Guild is developing an electronic membership database, so that we can comply with data protection regulations, as personal data such as members names is published in the Annual Report. We also wish to improve communications with our members, which is important, especially in the current circumstances. We now have an electronic sign up form. Please do give us your consent to hold your personal data by completing the following on-line form, and encourage members of your band to sign up as well.
Message from the Guild Master
The first couple of weeks after lockdown came to me as a bit of a shock, as I am sure it did to you. The impact of having to stay at home was somewhat restrictive but understandably tolerable. Being unable to ring, particularly on a Sunday was however a complete shock to the system having been part of the landscape of my life for the past 40 years. The realisation that I was not the only one impacted and the possible effects on everyone in the Guild hit me very soon after. What would you all do without your weekly ‘fix’ of ringing….
Now, 12 weeks or so into lockdown things seem a little brighter with the ringing community making great efforts to keep in touch with each other using social media, virtual tower pub nights and online practices. Talking to the district Chairs over the last couple of weeks there seems to be pockets of such activity in most parts of the Guild, but by no means everywhere. If you have not already done so and you feel able please reach out to your neighbouring towers to check that they are ok and to support them with our new virtual world if they need it.
With best wishes to you all.
The Ringing World National Youth Competition was due to take place in York on 4th July. There were due to be three teams from the Guild participating, the W&P Youths from the mainland, Vectis Youths from the Isle of Wight and Channel Island Pirates. The youth bands are naturally disappointed that this fantastic event has had to be postponed, but hopefully these bands will be able to participate in next year’s event.
Youth ringing practices on the mainland will start again when possible. Practices are generally on the first Sunday of the month, are open to all ringers aged 18 and under (the youngest regular attendee is now 6), and cater for all abilities from rounds up to Surprise Major / Stedman Caters. Look out for details of practices on the Guild Facebook site and website, or contact Andy Ingram for more information.
When will ringing be able to resume?
Socially distanced handbell ringing is now permissible outdoors, and tower bell ringing has been able to resume in the Channel Islands. However on the mainland, whilst churches will be permitted to hold Sunday services again after 4th July, this limited to a maximum of 30 participants and is subject to ‘social distancing’ measures remaining in place.
Even though it has been reduced to ‘one metre plus’, social distancing in belfries is extremely difficult, and there are a number of detailed considerations to be thought through as part of the risk assessment which parishes are required to undertake beforehand. Mitigation measures will be required Therefore, even when ringing resumes, it may need to be limited to short durations and with just a small group of people. Ringing as we knew it, and especially teaching new ringers, which requires close contact, may still not be possible for a significant period of time.
We will update you in a future newsletter once things change significantly. In the mean time The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is working with the CofE and detailed guidance, which is regularly updated, can be downloaded from: https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/
Virtual pub visits, quizzes and webinars
During lockdown, to keep in touch some bands, such as those at Basingstoke, Hursley, Eling and Alresford are holding virtual pub visits, quizzes and even practices. Zoom is the most popular way of doing this. All that is needed is a computer connected to the internet with a microphone, camera and loudspeakers.
The software can be downloaded for free by each of the users and although it’s not the same as meeting people in person, it is a really good way of keeping in touch with each other.
There is also a growing list of training webinars which have been delivered on Zoom.
In addition to Zoom, some ringers have taken this a stage further, using internet gaming technology. Several applications have been developed, the most popular being www.ringingroom.com. Users can make a virtual bell to sound by pressing the ‘J’ key on their keyboard. Local bands have then been practicing ringing rounds, call-changes and even methods together. It takes a little getting used to a first, but it is a really good way of helping newer ringers to count their places, and understand ringing theory, as well as good fun.
Other applications include Handbell Stadium and Discord where it is also possible to use motion sensors and dummy handbells to practice double handed handbell ringing.
The Guild Education Committee is putting on a webinnar to help those who have not yet used Zoom or Ringing room to find out more. The webinar will last between about 45 minutes and one hour. There is a choice of three dates/times:
- Wednesday 1st July – 7.30pm
- Saturday 4th July – 10.00am
- Sunday 5th July – 6.00pm
Places on each webinar need to be limited, so please use the booking form below and we will send you login details before your selected date/time.
Please also use the form to tell us what future webinars you would like us to put on. This could be theory of call changes, listening skills, how to learn a particular method, bob calling and conducting, steeple-keeping; introduction to handbell ringing, etc.
We would also like to hear from people who have specialist skills or spare time to help the Guild and its members. You may have some IT skills or communication skills that could help individual towers update their websites and prepare for the resumption of regular ringing, or you might be able to help with delivering on-line training webinars. There is much which could be done. Book your place here.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Association of Ringing Teachers have put together a selection of links to ringing related videos, blogs, quizzes, podcasts and training webinars which will be of interest to members of your band. There’s a lot of material and it’s well worth a look! http://ringingteachers.org/resources/COVID19-ringing-support
Guild Annual General Meeting
The Guild AGM has been re-arranged for Saturday 26th September. Further details will be published in the next edition of this newsletter.
- President’s Blog #11
So much has happened in the last two weeks that it is difficult to know where to start. Maybe with ringingroom appearing on BBC News – a great achievement led by CC PR Vicki Chapman, its creators Bryn and Leland, Anthony Matthews for being an eloquent ‘face to camera’ and the online participants. Mainstream media taking a genuine interest and helping to promote us.
Every now and again I post a question on Facebook and the email list which captures the imagination or the mood. Last Sunday it was a link to a list of quarter peal composers, which did not need studying for long to see that it was 99.9999% male. Ringing starts off with 50:50 male/female recruits, the Youth Contest looks about 50:50, university ringing is relatively balanced. But when you look at tower captains, conductors, composers, people asked to call a touch on a tower grab – the imbalance kicks in. If anyone doesn’t think that’s an issue, read some of the impassioned posts in that string, which hit 150 responses in a day (now 194, but wandering). There are even performances on ringingroom which have female ringers on the front bells! Julia Cater is leading a project to establish the scale of this subconscious bias and see what we can do about it. She is in the research phase and keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute.
Great ideas come to us from all quarters. Quilla Roth in Washington emailed me a spreadsheet of all the training webinars she had found, with a suggestion that we publish an index of them. With quick work from Web Editor Mark Elvers, and a ring around of the producers of all the pieces, we got the Index published within a week of Quilla’s email. There are so many good webinars now, and more being produced all the time. ART, Lewisham District, Cambridge District and the St Martin’s Guild are particularly active. One positive of lockdown at least. https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-index/
At the end of the Brumdingers practice each week we give a chocolate medal to whoever has made the greatest contribution to the practice that week. My virtual chocolate medal this week goes to Laura Goodin, for taking the initiative to organise the first of what may be many Plain Bob Doubles clinics on ringingroom. She recruited teachers, helpers and students via the Take-Hold Lounge, and from reading comments after they were great.
James Ramsbottom of the V&L Workgroup produced a guide to using ringingoom https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/06/07/ringing-room-a-users-guide/ All the online platforms are contributing to helping keep ringers together, and enabling some even to make progress.
Leaving most of this Blog until finishing a very interesting Zoom session with the Guild of Devonshire Ringers has left me facing a small hours finish. (I have promised Will copy by the time he wakes up tomorrow.) It was great to discuss the Strategic Priorities with them – fascinating to get their views for instance on the place of call changes in the overall mix. I am sure that we have to get a culture where ringing good rounds and call changes is a perfectly acceptable target. We are putting people off. One person on a Zoom I had with the South Walsham ringers last week said “if I could go back to my band post lockdown and say ‘all we need to do is ring call changes well’ they will love me forever.”
Call changes then had a major feature in last week’s Ringing World and the Accidental ringer blog covered the subject, following the discussion in virtual South Walsham. If you don’t follow the Accidental ringer it is always a good read and her blog on Strategic Priority 5 is here
Along with a trip to Bromyard last week that is the last of the Zoom bookings I have in my diary. I have learned a lot from people I have talked to who I might not otherwise have ever met, and appreciate the interest they have shown in the Council and its work.
More guild and associations have held their AGMs using Zoom. Furthering my research into how to run AGMs I joined the ODG for theirs and can report that it was a very professionally run show (I managed to do all the ironing as well but they didn’t know that!). The Council’s AGM is on course for September and Secretary Mary Bone is working very hard on assembling the paperwork. She will start getting nervous as I adopt my lastminute.com approach to all the things that seem to have my name next to them. End of the month really does mean that. Don’t panic Mary!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote 1000 words (Blog length) for a Newsletter if anyone else has space to fill? Would Newsletter Editors welcome a string of material from Workgroups or are you pretty self sufficient? It couldn’t be particularly timely but it might be possible to serve up some articles once a quarter or so for general use. Is there a Newsletter Editor mailing list or group?
Last week was ‘Volunteer Week’. (Who makes these up? Today is ‘World Oceans Day’ btw). I saw Exeter Cathedral’s bellringers featured in a Volunteer Week piece, Birmingham and Worcester Cathedrals made a point of mentioning the value of their bellringers in their Volunteers Week releases and I am sure others did too. It is sometimes difficult for the ringers of these ‘bigger’ towers to become part of the church community, but it pays dividends.
Monday 1st June turned into ‘National Handbell Day’, overshadowing World Reef Awareness Day in the national consciousness. Lockdown restrictions enabled non family handbell bands to assemble in the open air, armed with sun cream and hand sanitiser. My excursion to Great Barr park for some Cambridge Royal didn’t result in a post on Bellboard, but others did, and seven handbells peals were rung in the first week (the Page household becoming a hotbed of activity).
- What has your tower or band been doing together since lockdown?
Many of us will have been missing our ringing since the lockdown began mid-March and still no idea when we can safely return to tower bell ringing.
So what have you all been up to since then?
Have you made use of video conferencing for video chats or used the online ringing platforms or perhaps even taken up new hobby? Or maybe you have just enjoyed the break!
We would love to know what you have been up to, so please let us know at email@example.com and we will collate the replies. It would be really great to know what everyone has been doing and might encourage bands that have been fairly quiet to do something.
I know that Hursley have been meeting on Zoom 3 times a week! Peter Hill says “Sunday morning (11:00) is a general catch up – not much is happening tbh, and we sometimes have time for a short touch on Ringing Room. Tuesday has turned into quiz night – quite a jolly affair usually – even if Chris Hill seems to win most of the rounds. Friday night has a greater focus on ringing – touches of Cambridge Minor and Grandsire Triples have come round, but we have seen only modest improvement in our ringing.“
Very impressive Hursley! – can any other towers beat that?
Bellringing during lockdown on the BBC!
Following an international collaboration, it is hoped that BBC TV will air a segment in their main news bulletins on Saturday 30th May 2020 on bellringing during lockdown, including interviews and a feature on virtual ringing using Ringing Room.
At the moment the segment is scheduled to air on the main evening news bulletins which are 5.30pm & 10pm on BBC 1 subject to being overtaken by events but the editors are really keen on it so fingers crossed.
- Index of YouTube training videos
For those of you that are missing your ringing and are keen to keep on learning during lockdown, the Central Council have put together a very useful list of You Tube training videos.
The list is available here: