Category Archives: Learn To Ring

Association of Ringing Teachers/ART Training Scheme: Course places available.

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.

Ringing for Peace: Document/Poster

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.

Contact Peter Murdock-Saint

 

Ringing for Peace Battles Over Self Fill

A message to all towers with new recruits

Vicki Chapman, Ringing Remembers Project Co-ordinator, writes:

Dear all

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.

Kind regards

Vicki Chapman

Ringing Remembers Project Co-ordinator

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers Representative

Registered Charity Number: 270036

http://www.cccbr.org.uk

Plain Bob Doubles – There is a better way!

Phil Ramsbottom is a member of the St. Martin’s Guild, and an ART teacher.

SUMMARY

  • 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.

Bastow

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.

Plain Bob Doubles

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.

Bastow with 2 as hunt bell (treble line)

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.

Conclusion

  • 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!

Phil Ramsbottom

Your comments are welcome on this article – scroll down to post publicly, or click here to email the author

Learn to ring at St Michael’s Basingstoke

St Michaels, Basingstoke are eager and willing to recruit any new ringers.
 
We have a simulator which allows us to train on the bells but without the bells being heard outside and offers opportunities for good ringing practice with feedback via a computer.  Training is given by experienced and capable trainers who have trained many other individuals over the years. In the early stages training is one to one and arranged on a day by day basis.   Following this, learner specific training sessions are held throughout the year with learners in small groups of 2, 3 or 4 at the most.

RINGING REMEMBERS RECRUITMENT CAMPAIGN

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.

The aim nationwide is to recruit 1,400 new ringers to symbolically replace those ringers who gave their lives 100 years ago.

David Mattingley and Viv Nobbs are liaising with the Ringing Remembers Project for our Guild.”

Thanks,

https://wpbells.org/ww1/

Congratulations to June!

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.

Helen McGregor

Two trainees write about last week’s Guild Raising and Lowering Course

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)

Bell Handling

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:

September 2017 Ringing Courses at Tulloch

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

“The Education Column” articles by David Smith, now available online

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!
6. Kaleidoscope
7. Down Mexico way
8. Back to Basics

Listening Skills course on Saturday 8th April at Lockerley

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)

Christine Knights-Whittome

Rebecca Webb Reflects on ways of building expertise in a new Method

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…

Bradfield ringing course through my eyes

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

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth rings Tower Bells!

“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

Viv Nobbs

Public Relations Officer

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers.

Tel: 07594 609 366

Essex Course 6th-8th April – Applications must be in by Friday 10th February

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.

New Book from ART: A Ringer’s Guide to Learning the Ropes®

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?

St Michael’s, Swanmore, Go Weekly

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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!

Bold Plans for the Ten Kingston Bells (Isle of Purbeck) SDGR

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.

The Plan

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:

  • Listening skills webinar recordings

    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

    Useful resources

    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

  • President’s Blog #25 (2)

    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 motioncontrollers@hotmail.com – 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 (anniehall@covdg.co.uk) 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 …

    Simon Linford
    President CCCBR

    Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

  • CCCBR/ART Newsheet Survival and Recovery – January 2021

    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

  • Forthcoming Courses

    The following courses will be held via Zoom.

    Saturday 16th January 202110.15am

    Listening skills webinar with Andy Ingram and Roger Booth

    Saturday 23rd January 2021 – 10.15am

    Virtual Ringing Room Practice

    Saturday 30th January 2021 – 10.15am

    Learning Methods webinar (part 1 of 2) with Martin Daniels

    Saturday 6th February 2021 – 10.15am

    Virtual Ringing Room Practice

    Saturday 13th February 2021 – 10.15am

    Calling simple touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles webinar

    Saturday 20th February 2021 – 10.15am

    Virtual Ringing Room Practice

    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.

  • Virtual Ringing Room Practices

    Aims

    • 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.

    Dates:

    • 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

    Breakout rooms

    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.

  • Listening Skills webinar

    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:

    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 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.

    Follow up

    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.

    Ringing Room Practices

  • Guild Newsletter – January 2021

    This newsletter can also be downloaded as a .pdf

    Contents

    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: comms@wbells.org

    Master’s Message

    Dear Friends.

    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

    Between webinars

    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.

    After Easter

    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!

    Devon call-change ringers

    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.

    A training session on the eight dumb-bells and simulators at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre

    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.

    Simon Linford and his daughter Charlie

    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.

    Click here to download the application form

    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.

    200 Club

    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!

    Robin Milford

    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

    Safeguarding

    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

    If you are interested please contact Andrew Glover.

    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 hon.treasurer@wpbells.org  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.

  • Christmas ringing and Tier 4 – England

    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.

    Simon Linford
    President, CCCBR

    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.

  • A&P District AGM – 23/01/21

    All,

    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.

    Steve Marriott

  • President’s Yule Blog

    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.

    Happy Christmas

    Simon Linford
    President CCCBR

    Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers