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
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: email@example.com
I hope you all had an enjoyable, if somewhat restricted and for some a little lonely Christmas. I know that some of us took the advantage of ringing tower bells on Christmas day or perhaps ringing handbells in the churchyard, a great way to remind the local congregation that ringing is still alive and not quite in hibernation.
There are many bands who are keeping closely in touch and active through social media, group video meetings and Ringing Room. If you are not, perhaps the New Year is the time to take the plunge and for ringers to reach out to other members of your band on a more regular basis. If you need help with this then please reach out to the communications committee comms&wpbells.org who will be able to give you some guidance. 2021 offers a brighter future to resume ringing at some stage and we need to be prepared to relight the touch paper when that happens.
I wish you and your families a happy and prosperous New Year.
Pete Jordan, Master
Introducing Steve Lamb – The New General Secretary
Steve Lamb took over as Hon Guild General Secretary in November. In this interview, he tells us a little about himself
Where did you learn to ring? I learned to ring at Elloughton in East Yorkshire – a 6cwt ring of 6 bells. I was appointed Tower Captain aged 15 as the former captain had to move away and we were short of ringers. It was surreal to lead the band as I was one of the youngest and one of my band was in her 80s. I really enjoyed teaching bell handling from scratch as well as helping the band be as musical as possible.
What age were you? I was 12 years old when I started learning to ring. I’m 48 now and aside from the pandemic I’ve rung without time away from ringing. I love ringing now as much as ever.
Where do you ring now? My home tower is Winchester Cathedral. They are my favourite ring of bells as I really enjoy their tone – especially the back 8. They are wonderful bells though can be tricky to ring really well. I’m happiest ringing Stedman on the backend though I still have a lot to learn. Ringing on higher numbers is a great deal of fun though Surprise Royal and Max often makes my brain hurt 🙂 I love the fellowship of our wonderful band and feel it’s a treat to ring there. The Cathedral is so full of history and I’m conscious that the ringing chamber has many stories to tell. I’m tower secretary and assistant steeple keeper. I really enjoy ringing regularly at several towers across the Guild and particularly appreciate the band at Hursley taking me under their wing.
Which tower would you most like to grab? Exeter Cathedral due to having heard such good things about them from friends who have rung there. I enjoy ringing heavy tenors.
What do you miss most in the current pandemic? Ringing Tower bells!!! Weekly video sessions with the bands I rang regularly with plus some International get togethers has really helped in the meantime. I’ve learned to enjoy RingingRoom – the regular “12 bell mayhem” session has been a highlight.
Favourite football team, and why? San Francisco 49ers – I’ve followed them since I was a teenager. I don’t follow football in England – probably as my nearest team when I was a child was Hull and at the time they languished towards the bottom of the league table. My spectator sport is Formula One – following Lewis Hamilton.
Favourite book/film? Apollo 13 – I’ve always loved Space and this story is one of conquering near impossible odds through ingenuity and teamwork.
Favourite TV series? The Crown
Favourite food? Roast Lamb with all the trimmings
Other hobbies/leisure interests? I’m a keen marathon runner and also enjoy trail running. I love taking photographs too – especially of landscapes and of people.
Training Webinars and Ringing Room Practices
On Saturday 14th November, Edmund Wratten delivered a webinar on ‘coursing order’ and how it can be used to help your ringing. There was an excellent turnout with 35 members Zooming in.
Following this success, a series of interesting webinars is planned for the period up to Easter:
Sat 16th Jan: Listening Skills. Andy and Sallie Ingram. Have you struggled to pick out your bell from the others? How do you know if it you or someone else that is wrong? How do you count your place, what is meant by ‘odd struckness’. All these and other mysteries will be revealed.
Sat 30th Jan: Learning methods I, Martin Daniels. This seminar will look at the different ways of learning methods. It will cover the circle of work, the blue line, place bells and how you can break this down into chunks of work that you can practice using Kaleidoscope sequences. Also covered will be place notation method construction, and how different methods are related to each other.
Sat 13th Feb: Calling simple touches of Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles. Speakers to be Confirmed. Starting from the perspective of someone who has never called a bob or single before, we will cover the basics up to the stage where you can call a 120 of Plain Bob or Grandsire Doubles, and some tips how you can at least keep track of some of the other bells some of the time!
Sat 27th Feb: Learning Methods II. Martin Daniels. Following on from the first session, this webinar will look at the methods to try after you can ring Plain Bob Minor. It will explore St Clements and Double Oxford Minor and how these methods can help you develop skills which will lead on to learning and keeping right in more advanced methods.
Sat 13th Mar: History of bells and Ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses. Phil Watts. This webinar will look at some of the more interesting aspects of the subject and the work of the Diocesan Bells Advisers. It will also include details of plans to update the survey of bells in the Diocese and compile a photographic record of all the historic peal boards in our towers.
Sat 27th Mar. Recruitment and Retention – How to get more new ringers and how to retain them: Matt Lawrence. This workshop developed by the Central Council’s Volunteer and Leadership Workgroup will look at the problems facing us and ways in which we might overcome them.
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 897 2083 3001 and Passcode is: 519422
The link will be open from 10.00am for people to logon and perhaps have a chat. The presentation by the speaker will start promptly at 10.15am. Each presentation will be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. Depending on the content, the webinar will last between 60 and 90 minutes
Each Saturday between the webinars we will hold Ringing Room practices using Zoom. The link will be the same and we will split the group into a series of breakout sessions, each with an experienced group leader and helpers.
Whether it is practicing your listening skills, learning Plain Bob or Grandsire or a more advanced method, or calling your first bobs, you will be able to do this in one of the breakout rooms, in a supportive environment.
We may continue with these webinars and Ringing Room sessions for a while, possibly dovetailing this with establishing a network of towers across the Guild where you can go and attend training sessions targeted at helping you get back into ringing on real bells.
“Well done for maintaining interest, I enjoyed Edmund’s presentation and feel sure it will have helped a little”
Debbie Matthias, Blackmoor
“I learnt a lot from the coursing bells training, Zoom’s a good way to convey the theory and it’s great to make a little progress when we can’t ring real bells together—thank you for organising it!“
Cath Hart, Sherfield English and Romsey Abbey
Pre-recorded webinars, YouTube videos and on-line courses
There are a lot of on-line training resources and we have selected some of the best ones and sorted them, depending on your level of experience. Click on the hyperlinks below to find out more.
For newer ringers
Understanding call changes: This innovative on-line course delivered by Clare McArdle of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing aims to give you a good all-round knowledge of everything to do with call changes, from understanding what they are, to ringing and calling them. The course uses a ‘Moodle’ site to deliver a variety of content including interactive videos, presentations, worksheets and quizzes. There is also a domino game to play!
Exploring Devon call changes: Devon has a tradition of rounds and call-change ringing, performed by local teams to a high standard of striking. This presentation, delivered by Jon Bint of the Devon Association of Ringers, and a music graduate, explains how Devon call change ringing has evolved as a folk art from the mid 1600’s and compares the difference between it and scientific ‘method’ ringing as the same as that between Jazz and Classical music.
He explains the rivalry between the two systems which arose with the mid 19th century belfry reform movement, and then goes on to explain the key differences – the faster pace, the closed handstroke lead, and the importance of the raise and lower.
Abel Ringing Simulator:A series of YouTube videos with guidance for using the Abel ringing simulator software to practice your ringing on your PC or laptop. The videos are accompanied by notes from an online session delivered by Clare McArdle with additional guidance for using Abel effectively.
Towards better striking:In this 35 minute webinar recording,Tom Hinks focuses on how to achieve accurate striking, looking at various practice tools such as Abel and using sound clips to help you understand how to pick out different errors. He then goes on to discuss the confusing terminology that different ringers use and practical tips on how to make adjustments to your striking whilst ringing.
Virtual ringing – Zoom and Ringing Room workshop: An opportunity for those who would like to set up Ringing Room practices to try it out – with expert technical help. In the words of one user ‘it’s easier than you think!’ We’ve had some complete technophobes on the pilots who’ve left as Ringing Room converts. And it contains plenty of ideas about maintaining the interest of all the band. The workshop is a mix of theory and practical, supported by how-to videos and teaching tips gathered from experienced teachers.
The workshop is free and lasts approximately 90 minutes. This workshop will help you get the most out of lockdown ringing. And, of course, online ringing will still be useful even when we can start practising again. There’s a real sense that blended learning including tower bells, handbells and online ringing will be with us even when the pandemic is over. Follow the link to book a place.
For intermediate ringers
Doubles methods and variations: Steve Horton focuses on Plain Bob, Grandsire and Reverse Canterbury and how you can use different calls to produce a large number of variations on these base methods, quickly and easily extending your band’s repertoire, and adding interest.
How to learn methods:Tom Hinks talks about different ways of learning methods, such as the circle of work, blue lines, passing the treble, and place bells. Don’t worry if you are just embarking on learning your first few methods, everything is explained in simple terms. As Tom is a professional history teacher, he also explains some of the psychology, such as how frequency of repetition and being able to visualise a method in more than way can also help you master a method.
How to learn methods:Phil Ramsbottom highlights different ways to learn methods, and encourages looking for similarities and differences with other methods. He starts with Plain Bob Minimus and explains how this is related to Single Oxford Minor. Then how an understating of the secrets of method construction can be used to help you learn and ring Little Bob and Treble Bob, and how half-lead, double and reverse methods are related to each other.
Calling simple touches:Tom Hinks focuses on calling simple touches, looking at the basics of saying ‘go’, ‘that’s all’ and ‘stand’ through to calling Bobs and Singles in Plain Bob Doubles and Minor and Grandsire Doubles. He explains how different touches work and there are also some helpful resources discussed at the end.
First steps in calling bobs: This on-line course delivered by Nikki Thomas of the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich teaches you how to call bobs effectively and in the right place, and shows you how to construct touches using all the calling options for Plain Bob Doubles. By the end you should be confidently be able to call touches and call your first quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles. The ‘Moodle’ site has a variety of content including five tutorials, downloadable presentations, and interactive quizzes.
An introduction to handbell ringing: Simon Linford of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing uncovers the mysteries associated with learning to ring handbells. He explains that there are three basic patterns which can be used to ring a pair of bells to Plain hunt on six and plain courses and touches of Bob Minor. When you know the secrets, it’s not as difficult as it might seem at first sight.
Guild Training and Development Fund
Once the current pandemic subsides our thoughts will turn to recruiting and retaining new ringers. It could be 18 months before we can recruit new ringers again. In a normal year the Guild looses about 8% of our members through natural wastage, and a higher percentage of learners. Therefore in these exceptional circumstances we could loose 20 –25% of our ringers.
The Training and Development fund is there to help. The object of the fund is to provide financial assistance to individuals and groups incurring expenditure on: the provision of training, attending courses and events, training materials, payment of tutor expenses, educational assets and any other worthy project to enhance and enable the development of a ringer or group of ringers.
Perhaps you would like to buy some attractive leaflets or roller banners for a tower open day, or hire a mini-ring or mobile belfry for your local carnival or festival. You may also want to equip your tower with a simulator.
Applications. To be forwarded to Helen Woolford the Honorary Treasurer in writing or e-mail
Decisions. An application for a grant from this fund will be considered by the Officials, and their decision relayed to the applicant in a timely manner.
To qualify for a grant, applicants must be paid-up members or probationary members of the Guild.
Grants towards the cost of residential training courses will normally be awarded up to a maximum rate of 50% of the course costs and not exceeding £100.
The cost of Association of Ringing Techers (ART) teacher training modules and workshops may be awarded in full.
Depending upon the funds available and the number of applications , awards may have to be scaled down accordingly.
Only one award will be made per individual in any one calendar year.
Applicants will be asked to provide evidence of expenses/course fees.
In addition to the Training and development fund, Rule 16 provides that the“… First charge on District Funds (after administration) shall be for instruction (whenever possible) in change ringing…” so you can also apply to your District as well.
Some years ago Mark Esbester ran a 200 Club to raise money for the Guild Bell Restoration Fund, with around 170 subscribers. When he gave this up in 2016, I thought it would be useful to restart it but to raise money to improve the ringers rather than the bells.
The Guild set up the Training and Development Fund (TDF), with the object of giving grants to individuals or groups for training, attending courses, buying educational assets or other worthy projects to help in the development of ringers. The Fund officials are the Guild Master, Vice-Master, Honorary General Secretary and Honorary Treasurer. The 200 Club is run separately, solely to raise money for the Fund.
Club members pay a subscription of £12 per year, preferably by Standing Order to ease administration but alternatively by bank transfer, cheque or cash. This is spread over the year at £1/month. Draws are held three times a year, nominally at the March and November Executive Committee meetings and the Guild AGM. At each draw the total of members’ monthly contributions since the previous draw is split with approximately half going to the Fund, paid at the end of the year, and the remainder given out as six prizes.
The first gets 50% of the prize accumulation, the second 20%, the third and fourth 10% each and the fifth and sixth 5% each. To date £521 has been given out in prizes and £511 to the Fund. At present the Club has only 31 subscribers, so prizes are often small.
If you would like to join, and raise money for this worthy cause, copies of the form, plus a standing order details are on the W&P website: ‘200 Club’. The next draw will take place in March next year at the Guild Executive Committee meeting. Money received between now and the meeting will go into that draw. More members mean bigger prizes and more money raised for the TDF!
With the need to attract many more younger ringers, on-line safeguarding resources include:
Safeguarding in ringing: In this webinar, Dave Bassford and Ann White, safeguarding leads of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, and who both have substantial experience of safeguarding in their careers outside ringing, discuss DBS checks, L0, L1 and L2 safeguarding training, and the responsibilities of parish, tower, District and Guild officers. They also explain how to properly deal with incidents or concerns, and general ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’!
Levels C0 and C1 on-line safeguarding training: It is recommended that all ringers should complete these two simple on-line training courses which are available free of charge through the Church of England safeguarding training portal. The resources and training you can access here will equip you and your church to engage positively with the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults who ring at your tower, in both a practical and theologically informed way.
50 Virtual Ringing Things
Has been launched as part of the Central Council and ART’s Survival and Recovery Toolbox. The scheme is targeted at those who are new to ringing in the virtual world and is a series of challenges that you can try before we are able to go back to ringing in our towers. The challenges cover simulator software, online ringing, handbells and the enigmatically named tail ends (things that don’t fit into the other categories). When you’ve ticked off a challenge yourself, you can share your experience on the 50 Ringing Things Facebook group. Click on the image left to find out more and join.
The Charmborough Ring
The Charmborough Ring attracts a lot of attention at local carnivals and shows. It comes complete with a gazebo and roller banners to promote ringing. It has been used with a number of schools for activities days in the summer term, and although the bells are light, they are perfectly manageable.
We have found that young people can lean to handle a bell in about 15 minutes on them. Previously our main base was at Willingale, near Chelmsford in Essex, although since 2018 we have had a secondary base at New Alresford. Unfortunately Ian Kerwin from Willingale is no longer able to devote his time to the Charmborough Ring due to a change in his personal circumstances. Therefore our main base will now be at New Alresford.
We would particularly like to encourage towers in Hampshire and the surrounding counties to think about using us to help with recruitment, post pandemic. If you would like to hire the Charmborough Ring for an event later in the year, please visit our website.
Also, if you have a vehicle with a tow-bar capable of towing 2.1 tons and would like to help us take the ring out to events, please do get in touch. In 2019 the ring was used at eighteen different events. The more people that can help share the workload, the better. www.charmborough.org
The W&P needs YOUR help
Are YOU interested in helping the guild by supporting some of its committees? We have vacancies which need filling and would love to hear from you if you are interested. Please don’t be shy. You don’t need to be on the steep slopes of the red and black zones of ringing. You could be on the nursery slopes of the green zone, or gentle slopes of the blue zone, but you could have very useful skills from outside ringing that you could offer. If you want to know more please feel free to contact us to discuss the work of these committees further.
Guild CommunicationsCommittee. The primary role of the Communications Committee is to keep Guild Members up to date with what is going on in their Guild and Districts. The Committee works with the Principal Officers and District Officers promoting Guild and District events, practices, social events and relaying District, Guild and National Bellringing News. It is also available to help any tower with communications of their events as requested.
The Communications Committee is responsible for:
Maintenance of the WordPress website, Creating and archiving new pages and posts.
Maintaining the Guild membership and Communications database held on G Suite and Mailchimp.
Maintaining District email lists, approving new members
Guild EducationCommittee. The Education Committee exists to improve members’ ringing abilities and confidence in all practical and theoretical aspects of bell handling and method ringing. We arrange training days and evenings, designed to help students to enjoy their ringing, and to learn in a friendly, relaxed, but concentrated environment.
They are a mixture of theory and practice, geared to each student’s needs. Students are divided into small groups, led by Group Leaders who will assess what students can do; students won’t be pushed into attempting the impossible, but they will be encouraged to try things. Each group has a dedicated band of helpers so that, when students ring, they will be surrounded by helpful, friendly experts.
The committee will have an important role to play in helping ringing recover after the pandemic. If you would like to act as a committee member, or as a helper on our training sessions, contact Andy Ingram.
Belfry Stewardship Commttee. The committee exists to give advice about:
Bells and their fittings in any Guild tower;
To inspect and report on all completed bell restoration works subject to grants from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund, and
To continue the work of the Guild’s Bell Stock Survey.
In the late 1990s the Guild launched an ambitious pioneering project to compile a survey of every belfry in Hampshire with three or more bells. To date over ninety surveys have been completed, providing a wealth of valuable data on the condition of our towers and bells; However the project has only surveyed about half of the towers.
We would particularly like to hear from people with a background in Architecture, Surveying, Engineering or Construction who may be able to help with this and our other work. After the pandemic there will be many rings of bells which have not been rung and may need inspection, and we will also need to train new steeple-keepers. If you are interested, contact Martin Barnes.
The group is intended to be for more social communications and is not to be confused with the Guild Communications Database; that will be used for official Guild and District communications to let you know about Guild and District events. Access to the database is restricted on who can send out communications so Win-Port is an email group for all members to use to reach out to members.
Currently there are just over 200 of us in Win-Port which only represents a small proportion of the 1,400 members of the Guild. There are several members with more than one email address, and others that reside outside of the Guild area. It would be great to get more people added to this group and improve our communications between Guild members.
If you wish to be added, please visit hereto give your consent and I will add you to the group. You can only use it if you are a member of it, so please sign-up today! Don’t miss out!
Andrew Glover, Webmaster W&P
Bishop of Portsmouth retires
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster has announced that he is to retire as Bishop of Portsmouth. He will step down in April 2021. His wife, the Canon Sally Davenport, told worshippers at Holy Trinity and St Columba Churches in Fareham that she was also to resign as their Team Rector. The couple will retire together and live in Somerset.
Thank you to all those who have prayed for us and worked alongside us over the past 10 years, in the churches and communities of south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Sally and I will be sorry to leave so many valued friends and colleagues.”
The Rt Rev Christopher Foster has been Bishop of Portsmouth since 2010. He had grown up in the industrial West Midlands and in Surrey before studying economics at Durham and Manchester Universities and briefly working as an economics lecturer. He was ordained in 1980, served as a curate in Wolverhampton, and as chaplain of Wadham College, Oxford. He became vicar of Christ Church, Southgate, in London, in 1986 and then worked on the staff of St Albans Cathedral from 1994.
Bishop Christopher became the ninth Bishop of Portsmouth in September 2010, succeeding the Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Stevenson. Shortly afterwards, the Rev Sally Davenport was appointed as team rector of Holy Trinity and St Columba churches, both of which are near their home in Fareham.
District Annual General Meetings
The Basingstoke District virtualAnnual District Meeting will be held on Saturday Jan 16, 2021 at 3pm To join on Zoom, click this link: Link to Basingstoke District AGM
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 835 5007 7104. The Passcode is: 135246
The Winchester District virtual Annual District Meeting will be held on Saturday Feb 13, 2021 at 3pm To join on Zoom, click this link: Link to Winchester District AGM
If needed, the Meeting ID is: 883 8896 9942. The Passcode is: 135246
Bell Restoration Fund News
Ecchinswell, St Lawrence. Everything that everyone has worked so hard for is beginning to feel very real. For the last 8 years the trust has been fundraising and overcoming many obstacles to raise the very much needed money.
Then on 30th October, the three old bells were removed from the tower. The measuring up for the new framework is done, and very soon the six new bells will make their way to their new home and in the not to distance future we will hear their beautiful sweet sound. None of this would have happened without everyone who has supported us in some way and we thank you. The Guild is supporting this project with a grant of £2,500 from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund
Odiham, All Saints in the Basingstoke District. Whites of Appleton have overhauled the fittings of the six bells and strengthened the bell frame. Due to rot in some of the frame timbers, galvanised support steels have been installed under the frame and tie-rods fitted to reduce frame movement. The clappers and pulley units have been overhauled and the defective resin pads replaced. Rope guides have also been installed. This project has benefitted from a grant of £2,300 from the Guild Bell Restoration Fund
Silchester, St Mary. The five bells of Silchester also in the Basingstoke District have been turned and rehung on new fittings in the existing bell frame. The 2nd bell has been tuned. Rope guides have also been installed.
The work was carried out by Whites of Appleton and the project benefitted from a grant of £2,000 from the Guild Bell Restoration fund.
Hambledon, SS Peter & Paul. This ring of six in the Portsmouth District have been out of action following an accident when one of the gudgeons of the 2nd bell sheared and the bell was cracked in the crown as a result. The bells were last rehung by The Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1978, so the fittings were generally in good order. The bells and their fittings were taken to John Taylor & Co in Loughborough where the second bell was repaired by specialist bronze welding to its crown. The headstocks of all six bells have had new gudgeons fitted by forge welding. New bearings have been fitted and the bells have now been rehung, and await lifting of the Covid restrictions. A £3,000 grant to this project was approved at the Guild AGM in October 2020.
Donate to the Bell Restoration Fund
If you wish to donate to the Bell Restoration Fund, please contact the Guild Treasurer firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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.
Simon Linford President CCCBR
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
For the last nine months, there has been very limited activity, and many ringers may not even have touched a bell-rope in this time. Even if they have, they will not have rung any methods.
However with the roll out of the vaccination programme, there is the real prospect that from late spring or early summer next year we will gradually be able to return to ringing all the bells and holding practices in our towers. But we still have this winter to get through.
Things have been happening behind the scenes to prepare for the recovery and we plan to issue regular District newsletters with news and interesting items to help keep members engaged and informed.
In this issue we include details of a programme of webinars which the Guld Education Committee will be launching in January.
During lockdown a number of District towers have been holding regular virtual pub sessions and quizzes. using Zoom. Some have also been holding virtual practices using Ringing Room, one of these being the Mayflies group which Micki Nadal has written about on page 2
Please do send us articles for inclusion in the next issue, which will be published at the end of March. Articles should be sent to: email@example.com
Christmas ringing relaxation
The Central Council of Church Bellringers have agreed special arrangements for ringing over the Christmas period with the House of Bishops Recovery Group. Essentially between 23 and 27 December no matter which tier, we can ring for 15 minutes, provided that the ringers are 1metre + socially distanced, and those not in the same bubble are wearing face masks. Further details on the Central Council Website
Have you subscribed?
Around 50% of Winchester District members have now subscribed to the Guild’s new membership and communications database. We are now able to send this newsletter to each of you direct instead of it being ‘cascaded’ via tower correspondents and posted on tower notice boards. This is not practical in the current pandemic.
However, as we are only reaching about half of the membership, do tell your friends about this newsletter and pass a copy on if they have not seen it.
On Saturday 14th November, Edmund Wratten delivered a webinar on ’coursing order’ and how it can be used to help your ringing. There was an excellent turnout with 35 members Zooming in.
Following this success, a series of interesting webinars is planned for the period up to Easter. These will be held on
Sat 16th Jan
Sat 30th Jan
Sat 3th Feb
Sat 27th Feb
Sat 13th Mar
Sat 27th Mar
The final programme and joining details will be published in the next Guild Newsletter, to be issued at the beginning of January. Topics will include
Listening Skills: Have you struggled to pick out your bell from the others? How do you know if it you or someone else that is wrong?
Ways of Learning Methods: This will cover the circle of work, the blue line and place bells, and how you can break this down into chunks of work that you can learn.
Calling simple touches: Starting from the perspective of someone who has never called a bob before, we will cover the basics up to the stage where you can call a 120 of Plain Bob or Grandsire Doubles.
History of bells and ringing in the Winchester and Portsmouth Dioceses: This webinar will look at some of the more interesting aspects of the bells in our towers.
Recruitment and Retention – how to get more new ringers and how to retain them: This workshop developed by the Central Council’s Volunteer and Leadership workgroup will look at the problems facing us and how we might overcome them.
The webinar link will be open from 10.00am for people to logon and perhaps have a chat. Each presentation will start promptly at 10.15am, followed by the opportunity for questions and answers.
Depending on the content, each webinar will last between 60 and 90 minutes
If you’ve not already done so, complete our questionnaire and we will make sure you receive details of the upcoming webinars.
Each Saturday between the webinars we will hold Ringing Room practices using Zoom and breakout rooms, so that people can practice the topics that have been covered in the previous weeks, with an experienced band in a supportive environment.
Restoration at Twyford
The £91,000 scheme to carry out a major overhaul of the frame and fittings, including recasting of three of the bells is being supported by a grant of £7,500 from the Guild’s Bell Restoration Fund. The work will be carried out by White’s of Appleton.
However, Jennie Richardson reports that, because of Covid-19, fund-raising has ground more or less to a halt, so the start date for the works is not yet certain.
Currently, because of the pandemic, most Sundays just one bell is chimed, although the band did manage to ring three bells in memory of William Davies, who was on horseback and lost in fog on the local downs until he heard the bells ringing.
His will of 1754 left money to the ringers to ring for 30 minutes on 7 October each year.
Towards the end of May this year, when the Mayflies were emerging from the River Test in droves and buzzing round my head in the garden, I decided to take the plunge and set up a virtual tower in Ringing Room.
I didn’t want to call it after a particular tower, as I realised virtual ringing would not be for everyone and I wanted to attract people from all over the place, which seemed to me one of Ringing Room’s advantages.
The Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge on Facebook showed that evening sessions often experienced some time lag, so 5pm seemed a good time – before people’s supper and the evening online rush. With the mayfly hatch in full swing, the name seemed a ‘no-brainer’.
So, at the beginning of June and with the help of fellow ringer Derek Smith, we had a go, just the two of us and then let various ringing friends know that Mayflies would be open for business Monday to Saturday at 5pm. We were immensely lucky that our brilliant District Ringing Master Edmund Wratten joined us to give us direction and advice from his base and our former Kings Somborne Captain Sue Spurling joined us from her new home in Sussex.
With old ringing friends from Kings Somborne, Braishfield, Sparsholt, Winchester and Houghton and new ringing friends from London, Epsom and Staffordshire we can generally count on between 6 and 10 people each day, although if there are only 4 or 5 initially, we’ll ring Minimus methods.
A little gossip tops and tails our practices, but on the whole ringing is what we are there for. For our local band the advantages of Ringing Room are huge – we normally ring at six-bell towers, so the chance to practice and learn 8, 10 and 12 bell methods is fantastic.
We have really progressed with learning touches and for those prophets of doom, who say that in the ‘real’ ringing world we will all be back to square one, I have this to say: the brain will, I’m sure, retain a lot of what we are learning about ‘what to do instinctively at a bob or a single’ and although we may have to relearn straightforward bell handling and using rope sight (and we fully appreciate this may take some time), when we are settled into a plain course of Bob Doubles and a bob is called, we will remember what we are supposed to do.
I don’t see Ringing Rooms just as a lockdown facility either – it will be just as useful for learning methods when things are back to normal, but with the added advantage of being able to practice in a real environment too.
Just as lockdown changed our lives, I believe Ringing Room has changed ringing practices too and given those of us lower down on the learning curve the opportunity and the confidence to metaphorically punch above our weight and try things we would be light years from trying in a real tower.
Kings Somborne and Mayflies Towers
Ropley Church is being rebuilt
In June 2014, our beautiful church was destroyed by fire. Two of the bells were cracked, one beyond repair and will need to be recast. Now at last, the rebuilding of the church is well under way, with the new roof installed and new tower built!
The rebuilt St. Peter’s will provide a wonderful venue for services as well as a place for the Village to gather. The space created will complement other village facilities and will be widely used by the village school, social clubs, concerts and meetings seven days a week, not only an hour on Sundays.
St. Peter’s was insured by Ecclesiastical Insurance for £2,854,962. Thus far a substantial sum in addition to this has been successfully raised. The current shortfall for Phase 1, to achieve a useable building was £201,500 (October 2019). Phase 2 fundraising for stained glass windows, bells, clock, furniture etc will follow.
Work undertaken so far includes the installation of the base of the new bell-frame by Matthew Higby & Co., and an order has been placed to recast one bell and weld and heat treat the other five bells.
Because of the damage done by the fire, the bells will be hung within an independent steel structure within the walls, and the ringing room will move to the ground floor level.
The bells will be the largest hung in a free standing tower, but we are assured that they will handle well!
Carol Ward (nee Herring) RIP
I have, I am afraid, sorrowful news to impart.
Carol served many years as the tower correspondent for the Candover Valley Ringers, and hers was a welcome presence at District meetings – including last December’s carol service at Northington, at which she – with the rest of the CVR – was a most gracious host.
Carol was also a doughty campaigner in the cause of combatting the cancer which eventually took her. I shall miss Carol very much indeed, as I am sure many in the District will.
News from around the towers
Hursley: The band have been meeting for a Zoom call and quiz on Tuesday evenings as well as other chats, ringing room sessions and quarter peal attempts on other evenings. As tiering allows we have been exploring our Minimus range on 1, 4, 6, 8 of the 12 and that we have been using the 14 on Ringing Room to practice our handbell carols. The band are also holding a virtual Christmas dinner on 18th December. Peter Hill.
Lockerley: Have been meeting on Zoom on Thursday evenings for a chat followed by some virtual ringing and also on Sunday mornings. During the summer months the band were also able to meet socially distanced outdoors. Gary Davies.
Old and New Alresford: Have been meeting fortnightly on Friday evenings for virtual pub and quiz sessions on Zoom. We have installed extract fans in both towers to improve the ventilation which has enabled us to ring some of the bells on Sunday mornings and for a wedding, before we entered Tier 2.
Romsey Abbey: The bells are sounded on Sundays and for other special occasions by the Ellacombe apparatus, so most of the band have not rung a bell for nine months. It was fortunate we decided not to remove the Ellacombe apparatus when the bells were rehung in 2007!
Sherfield English: Various numbers of bells have been chimed for services by single households in the band. We have run our regular Thursday training sessions with the Romsey improvers using Ringing Room and Zoom. Nearly all are now able to ring inside to Plain Bob Triples and Cloister Triples without crib sheets! Using visual aids most can ring Stedman.
The new learning environment has encouraged counting places and listening to the ringing as well as upskilling internet knowledge. More ringers have run the practice and called touches. We have also learnt about and used place notation and coursing order, sparked by Edmund’s webinar. Ringing Room allows us to go past Sherfield 8 bell restrictions – if we have lots of ringers we open up a second tower so everyone rings more. We also have completed plain hunt Maximus (16 in here we come!).
We have just realised that we should achieve ringing all the methods set out in Martin’s 2020 wish list without attending the tower! Martin Daniels.
Sparsholt: The band have been meeting every Monday since first lockdown in March. At first it was a weekly quiz evening with attempts at Ringing Room on Tuesday evenings. We also met socially outdoors in the warmer summer months, for a drink and also a picnic. Since September we have met virtually in the Ringing Room with the sessions led by Edmund Wratten. Anyone wishing to join us on Monday evenings at 7.15pm would be very welcome. Jenny Watson.
Winchester Cathedral: The band have been meeting for a chat most weeks and when tiering permits have been ringing six bells for fifteen minutes before Sunday services. The large ringing room helps with social distancing. To keep the fellowship up some members have also been meeting up for walks and cycle rides. Steve Lamb.
W&P Diocesan Guild
Muster, Hants & Wilts.
Monday, 7 December 2020
1260 Bob Minor
1–2 Mary Edelsten (Winchester)
3–4 Ian Redway (New Alresford)
5–6 Gary Davies (Winterslow)(Cond)
First virtual quarter peal: 1-2
A new ring of eight for the District
When we retired to New Alresford three years ago, we had intended putting the Charmborough Ring in the loft at the back of our garage, when not in use.
However, we soon came to the conclusion that hosting it up and down was not something that we wanted to do regularly.
Instead Matthew Higby has recently cast us a new ring of eight, with a tenor of about ¾ cwt in E♭ which will be permanently hung in our garage in the spring
Although light, they will have galvanised steel wheels and handle like bells considerably heavier than they are.
The intention is that besides being available for quarters and peals, we will also run regular training sessions – a bit like Tulloch and Alderney. We also plan to work with local schools to help bring fresh blood into our local band.
As for the Charmborough Ring, they will remain available to help with recruitment post-pandemic. If you would like to hire them for an event next year, please visit the website: www.charmborough.org
Roger & Cathy Booth
Greetings to all members in what has been a very difficult and challenging year due to the pandemic.At the ADM last February I indicated that I would not be seeking re-election as chairman in February 2021.
Please feel free to contact me either by phone or email if you are interested in filling this post.It would be good if someone did come forward as I feel the district would benefit from a fresh face.
I am willing to continue as Executive Council Representative if re-elected.
As I write there is hopeful news of vaccines. I hope that next year we shall be, in time, to be able to meet and ring more normally.
May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very happy Christmas and all the best for 2021. Stay well and safe.
District Annual General Meeting – Saturday 13th Feb 2021
The District Annual General Meeting will take place on Saturday 13th February 2021 at 3pm by Zoom teleconference. To join, click on this link:
This meeting will include the presentation of officers reports and the District Accounts for 2020.
At the meeting nominations will also open for all the officer posts in the District. John Croft has indicated that he does not wish to stand again for the post of Chair, and Bruce Purvis does not wish to stand again as Secretary. We also need to fill the vacant Newsletter Editor post, to help the Guild Comms team.
The District relies on volunteers such as John and Bruce to carry out all of its work. It’s not what the District does for you and your tower, it’s what you can do for the District, and there will be a lot to do to help ringing recover after the pandemic. Please do consider how you can help. The more people that share the load, the better.
Following a decision at the Guild AGM in September, no subscriptions will be collected next year, membership will last two years and a combined Annual Report will be published in 2022 for 2020 and 2021.
Copy for the next issue of this newsletter should reach us by Sunday 14th March firstname.lastname@example.org
I first saw a 3D barcode about 25 years ago when I worked in the nascent internet industry. I couldn’t really see the point of them, just like I couldn’t see the point of a start-up company called Shazam which we had the opportunity to invest in (big mistake – huge). Now 3D barcodes, or QR codes, are ubiquitous, and we are starting to see them on ringing chamber notice boards.
The Truro DG has come up with a great idea using QR codes to broadcast the sound of church bells in the community. A QR code is generated that is linked to an MP3 recording of the bells at a particular tower, and this QR code can then be put in the church porch, the local library or even the pub! A short video on the idea can be found here The action starts about 15 seconds in, possibly after a Galaxy advert.
Thomas Ashwin-Siejkowski has had a letter printed in a new BBC book called “Letters from Lockdown.” Thomas talks about how much he misses bellringing, how many friends he has made from it, and how much he is looking forward to the future. In his Foreword, Evan Davis says “This book is a collection of some of these Chronicles, written in the midst of one of the most unexpected and intense moments in our history. Together they give us an unforgettable portrait of ordinary people caught in extraordinary times, with all the humour and tragedy and uncertainty we’ve been through.” Good job Thomas – a great future awaits you.
Ringing is going to come earlier for bands of young ringers. For some time, Mark Regan of the CC ‘Covid guidance team’ has been pursuing the possibility of using the ‘supervised children’s activities in out of school settings’ guidance to get groups of ringers aged under 18 to ringing again. This has now borne fruit and in the New Year youth groups will be able to ring across all tiers under controlled conditions. Detailed guidance will be published in the Ringing World on Friday.
A letter in The Telegraph last Friday from a lady called Ann Cottee asked for a ‘reasonable explanation’ for why her Tower Captain has said it was illegal for them to ring the bells at her church of Gislingham. By the power of t‘interweb I tracked her down to being the neighbour of the tower captain, and a churchwarden, which enabled me to send her a nice email explaining how her bellringers were dutifully following the guidance of the House of Bishops but would hope to be ringing again soon. “I am sorry to have caused fluttering in the dovecotes” she replied.
As usual there is good work going on in the background in the Workgroups. Take the work of the T&T Workgroup – their report to the Executive was over two pages of small print covering such detail as the work on compositions (lots of old collections being added in and now 40,000 compositions online with 30% input by workgroup members), v2 of the Framework which is coming soon, the Dove database development continuing apace with the team expanding to include expertise in carillons and mini-rings, and on top of that the Council teams are hoping to transfer onto Office365 and have decent email addresses by Christmas! No more simonhippo…
Sometimes Facebook polls capture the imagination, and none more so than one I posted asking whether we confess to being ringers on our CVs. 850 people answered the poll, with only about 10% saying they didn’t confess. There were great stories from ringers who had secured interviews and even jobs because of it, finding ringers on interview panels. Good to see we look after our own!
16th December is a date for the diary for ringers in England, as it is when the Tiers will be reviewed and hopefully some more towers will drop down into Tier 1. The Covid team has just released the plans for ringing over Christmas in England at least, provided nothing gets disastrously worse before the 16th. Bells will be ringing for Christmas.
The first practices under the ‘Cast of 1000’ initiative have started. Three Surprise Major practices last Saturday had 40 of our initial 70 volunteers ringing methods from the Core 7 plus some of the PPE extension methods such as the rather excellent Lancashire. It was a good start to this trial run, with six more practices before Christmas, in advance of rolling out more focused Surprise Major practices in the new year. It was good to welcome Dylan Thomas from New Zealand who rang some surprise major before going off to his Sunday service ringing commitments at Wellington, much to the envy of his fellow Ringing Roomers.
The deadline for the ART Awards is the end of December. These awards have become increasingly popular as a way of recognising achievements in ringing. They don’t just have to be of people involved in ART or the Learning the Ropes scheme, although there are awards specifically for that. The prizes are significant (£2800 in total) so well worth looking at so that you can nominate special achievement.
After six months of trusting the determination of the YouTube competition winners to experts, we are throwing caution to the wind and letting you decide on which of the winners should get the ‘People’s Choice’ award, for the best of the best. This is your chance to decide whose Christmas is going to have a £200 budget increase. This is more important than voting for HRVY or Bill – and its cheaper! Just go to https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-competition/ and cast your vote wisely or otherwise.
And finally, I learned to ring in the Stafford Archdeaconry Society, now the Lichfield & Walsall Archdeaconries Society of Change Ringers. Their entire committee has gone on my ‘beer tea or cake list’, not for the Society teaching me, though I will always be grateful for that, but for a very kind letter.
Simon Linford President CCCBR
Content from https://cccbr.org.uk and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers
The guidance for ringing in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland is considered separately here in line with different national rules and guidance from the respective Churches. With the latest level of lockdowns the guidance in each country is very similar.
Lockdown 3.0 has suspended the Tiers-based guidance and replaced it with a mandatory requirement to Stay at Home ‘unless you have a reasonable excuse.’ Our guidance is to adhere to that principle and not go out to ring. This is in line with our guidance during the first period of lockdown when the medical situation was not as bad as it is now.
One difference between the first lockdown and now is that attending a Place of Worship is specifically allowed by law as a ‘reasonable excuse’ provided it is to worship alone or as a household group (the Church of England’s guidance can be found here). The ringing of a single bell or Ellacombe chime (or bells in the case of a ringing household) as part of an act of worship is not prohibited, and if you think it is important enough for a bell or bells to be heard in your community, and you can do it without putting yourselves or others at risk, then that is your decision to make.
Scotland has gone a step further than England and has closed Places of Worship until at least the end of the month. This therefore means that bells should not be rung.
Wales is in Alert Level 4. This is very similar to the lockdown in England with Places of Worship allowed to remain open but a general Stay at Home requirement. Ringing guidance is as for England.
Both jurisdictions are on the severest lockdown level, thus precluding ringing.
Updated 15th January
There is no change to any guidance this week, and there is unlikely to be any next week either.
Updated 8th January
Guidance has been updated to remove all guidance that was based on Tiers and replace that with simple interpretation of lockdown conditions.
Updated 4th January
England and Scotland have entered lockdown again. In England, Places of Worship remain open but in Scotland they will be closed from Friday 8th.
The exact guidance for ringing will be published before the end of the week.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, said the following this evening:
“The Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England at this time and we will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible. The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
“However, some may feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only digital services for the time-being. Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home.
“I would urge everyone in our churches to pray for those on the front line in our public services – the NHS and those working in social care, for schools and many others on whom we depend; and for parents and carers of children at this anxious and stressful time.
“There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.”
Updated 27th December
The guidance for ringing for children’s groups has been updated in the light of the introduction of the new Tier 4.
Unfortunately the Government guidance that allows the running of activities for children in out-of-school settings specifically excludes Tier 4, so young ringers groups can only operate in Tiers 1-3.
Updated 21st December
Christmas guidance for England has changed following the Government’s scaling back of relaxations.
Tier 4 guidance added as in the table above.
The adoption of Tier 1 guidance in Tiers 2 and 3 should be for the most important services over Christmas only, at your discretion and based on local circumstances.
Updated 16th December
Christmas guidance for England is unchanged from the announcement made on 8th December.
The current guidance for ringing in Tier 1 will be adopted for towers in all three Tiers just for the five-day Christmas period – 23rd to 27th. That is to ring up to six bells, with 1m+ separation and using facemasks. The recommendation is to ring for 15 minutes but to assess your tower’s characteristics. Ventilation is key to reducing the risk of aerosol transmission. Note that bellringing guidance no longer has 72 or even a 48 hour recommended gap between sessions, but to maintain good ventilation and hand hygiene.
Review the Guidance Notes on this page to assess the risk of your own ringing chamber and for members of your band to assess their own personal risk. No doubt many ringers (especially those at special risk personally or in their family) will decide not to ring, just as many towers will lack sufficient ventilation to sufficiently mitigate risk even for this one-off occasion.
The Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer are urging us to exercise caution and to “keep Christmas celebrations small, short and local to reduce these risks.” We can do that in our ringing of bells to celebrate Christmas – small, short and local.
Updated 14th December
The specific guidance on ringing for children’s groups has been added to the Guidance Notes. This covers groups of up to six children under 18 ringing together and can be done in all Tiers in England.
The guidance for Northern Ireland has been replaced with guidance for all of Ireland.
Guidance for Christmas services will be confirmed after the 16th December update on tiers in England.
Updated 7th December
There is no change to the guidance this week. Specific guidance on Northern Ireland has been added to the standing guidance by country.
Updated 30th November
New guidance has been published for ringing in various Tiers in England in advance of the end of the lockdown on 2nd December. Guidance has also been updated for the protection levels in Scotland, and for the situation in Wales where ringing is permitted subject to the Council’s guidance.
There has been no change in guidance since the 8th November update.
Updated 8th November
Bellringers in England have been asked to support the Church of England’s call to prayer during this month of lockdown by ringing a single bell at 6pm each day. The request came directly from Lambeth Palace, and has been repeated by many individual Bishops.
The Recovery Group is of the opinion that a single bell ringing is an act of individual prayer, and as such complies with their own guidance and that of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.
Updated 6th November
This update is specifically for England, and is responding to the lockdown that started on Thursday 5th November and lasts until 2nd December.
The government in England is asking people to stay at home if at all possible. Churches are closed except for private prayer and broadcast worship. ‘Group bell ringing’ is specifically not permitted in a Place of Worship during this period.
However, the ringing of a single bell on Remembrance Sunday has been specifically agreed by the House of Bishops Recovery Group (with permission of the incumbent and churchwardens). The tolling of a single bell is a powerful symbol of remembrance understood by communities and will mean a great deal to many. Please be particularly aware of the risks associated with entering a tower and ringing on your own – make sure someone knows you are doing it and can watch for you. A muffle is not needed when tolling a single bell.
Updated 23rd October
Following further discussions with the Church of England Recovery Group, there is no longer a blanket restriction on ringing in Tiers 2 and 3 in England.
A news item has been published on the CCCBR website today announcing the disappointing news that we believe ringing should be suspended in areas of England designated as being in Tiers 2 and Tier 3. Towers in Tier 1 are unaffected. This is our interpretation of the legislation which is shared by the Church of England Recovery Group.
Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).
The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”
The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoorsand in private dwellings
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”
Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.
Updated 13th October
Following the announcement on Monday October 12 of a new three-tier risk alert system for COVID-19 in England, we are considering the implications for ringing and will publish our opinion by the end of Friday 16th.
Although Places of Worship can remain open at all Tiers, at the ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ Tiers there should be no mixing between households (see Church of England guidance website).
The accompanying legislation for Tier 2 (the middle tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoors
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 2 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place indoors.”
The accompanying legislation for Tier 3 (the top ‘Very High’ tier) says this:
“Participation in gatherings indoorsand in private dwellings
No person may participate in a gathering in the Tier 3 area which consists of two or more people, and takes place in a private dwelling or any indoor space.”
Tier 1, the lowest or ‘Medium’ level continues to apply the ‘Rule of Six’ indoors.
Updated 9th October
There is no change to the guidance this week but an article has been published here which explains the Central Council’s current roadmap for guidance, paving the way for more localised decision making. We are also undertaking a wholescale review of guidance documents.
From now on, guidance updates are going to be published on Mondays, which gives time to digest higher-level guidance that is often published on Fridays.
The next guidance update will therefore be Monday 19th October.
Updated 2nd October
The Frequently Asked Questions have been refreshed to remove those which are now common knowledge and add in more recent concerns such as the implications of ringing in areas of increased lockdown.
All restrictions imposed by Governments override guidance either from our Churches or the Central Council. The UK’s ‘Rule of Six’ (in its various forms) for instance is a legal restriction aimed at reducing social contact, rather than guidance.
If (as in the North East of England at the end of September and parts of Lancashire shortly thereafter) no indoor mixing of different households is allowed, then it appears that it would be illegal for anyone other than members of the same household to ring, even if church services are allowed. Places of worship do not appear to have been given a specific exemption, however they have remained open. The position is unclear, although the UK Government’s intention is clearly to reduce social contact in non-essential settings, citing work and education as the only exemptions.
Elsewhere, if extra restrictions (but still allowing six to meet indoors) have been imposed where you live, then the transmission of Coronavirus is high, and the level of risk greater. The CCCBR’s guidelines do aim to be “Covid-Secure”, but you need to make a local risk assessment (focussing especially on the size and ventilation of your tower and the characteristics of your ringers) to decide if it is appropriate to ring – and it may well not be. Remember that the final decision rests with the Incumbent.
Updated 25th September
There has been no change to guidance this week.
The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to the team. David is a recently retired GP who during a long career spent time dealing with epidemics in Africa, and most recently managing coronavirus patients. As well as taking a share of the workload, David will be specifically looking at the next phase of guidance.
David rings in Gloucestershire.
Updated 18th September
Dicussions are ongoing regarding the potential reduction of distance between ropes, although in view of the upsurge in Covid cases and the number of areas of the United Kingdom entering increasing states of lockdown there is extreme caution over reducing distancing for bellringing at the moment.
The ‘rule of six’ is now in force in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption provided those in church stay in groups of six.
Update on 11th September
The period of time between ringing sessions has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is on the assumption that all hand hygiene guidance is being followed.
We do not yet have the green light to reduce distance between ropes below current guidance, but it is under consideration on the basis that this will enable more towers (and ringers) to ring. The CofE Recovery Group is very sympathetic to the case but are consulting with others included MHCLG in the light of the upsurge in cases.
The ‘rule of six’ is being implemented in England, Scotland and Wales, albeit with slight regional variations. Places of worship have an exemption but the extent of that is not yet clear and further details are awaited. Although this is unlikely to impact on tower bell ringing, if there is any conflict between guidance and the law, the law prevails.
Update on 4th September
There has been no change to the guidance this week. Updated guidance to reduce distance between ropes to enable more towers to ring more bells has been submitted for approval. Note that ringing is still limited to 15 minutes but does not have to be for a service, provided it is with the permission of the incumbent.
Guidance on the use of simulators is being written and will be available shortly.
Update on 14th August
Following last week’s update on wearing face coverings for ringing (which is mandatory in churches in England and Scotland) the individual guidance notes have been updated to include references to face coverings. A number of people have enquired whether ringers who claim exemption from wearing a face covering can ring without them. It is our view that face coverings reduce the risk of transmission of the virus and therefore protect our fellow ringers. Anyone who is unable to wear a face covering should not ring.
Local lockdowns continue and may increase. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens.
Guidance notes 2 and 4 have been amended slightly to clarify the 1.5m allowed separation for ropes which fall in a straight line, i.e. that the middle of three ropes which fall in a straight line should be 1.5m from the two adjacent ropes.
Update on 7th August
The only two things changed this week are that use of the word ‘facemask’ in this guidance has been replaced with the words ‘face coverings’ to bring this guidance in line with the Church of England’s guidance. The churches in Scotland also refer to face coverings rather than facemasks, while the Church in Wales does not appear to have stipulated the wearing of face coverings yet. Face coverings does not include visors.
We would like to also clarify that ringing does not specifically have to be for a service, but should still be with the permission of the incumbent. Ringers have been asked to ring for weddings, and on Sundays where there is no service but where the sound of bells is welcome to remind communities of the presence of the church. It is still only 15 minutes though, whatever the purpose of the ringing.
The wearing of face coverings is mandatory from 8th August in places of worship in England and Scotland (Wales doesn’t appear to be mandatory but advice welcome). Wearing face coverings does not reduce the minimum distances approved for ringing which remain as :
2m spacing between ringers (which will generally mean alternate bells)
1.5m spacing allowable if ropes fall in a straight line (ringers facing inwards not towards each other)
Adjacent bells can be rung by ringers from the same household
An increasing number of places may have lockdown restrictions brought back as happened first in Leicester, then in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and most recently in Preston. The effect of these lockdowns on ringing is principally on handbell ringing in people’s gardens
The Church of England and the Church in Wales both allow bells being rung in their churches now that cathedral and church buildings are open to the public. It is on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance on these pages. Public Health England (PHE) has reviewed the Council’s guidance, suggesting various amendments which have been incorporated into the guidance given here. It has all been agreed with the Church of England Recovery Group, whose support for ringing is greatly appreciated. The Central Council will continue to pursue a similar situation for other jurisdictions in which there are bells.
We appreciate not all jurisdictions are the same, even within the United Kingdom. The Scottish Association has done a thorough review of the positon regarding ringing in towers in Scotland and has published its guidance here.
The restriction on ringing is difficult for bell ringers who are missing the activity that is so much part of our lives. The Church is however very sensitive to the safety of its volunteers and the relaxation of restrictions will not necessarily be as rapid as it is in certain other settings where other factors are under consideration. Failing to follow this guidance could cause this limited return to ringing to be reversed, and we are very grateful to all ringers who have embraced the return to ringing so positively.
By no means all churches are open for services. Opening is very much down to individual Dioceses and incumbents, taking into account many factors. However ringing does not have to be for a service provided the incumbent is happy to have the bells rung. Bells are a powerful reminder that the church is still there in the heart of our communities. Note that there is a specific requirement in the Church of England guidance document that ringers have read this guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment.
The Church in Wales includes the ringing of bells in their guidance issued to parishes, which can be found here. Section 1 Paragraph 15 refers to ringing and states “bell ringing is permissible, but bell ringers should observe two-metre physical distancing and hygiene and cleaning regimes should be implemented. Careful consideration of how bell ringers will access the building suitably distanced from other attendees needs consideration, e.g. different entry points or staggered arrival times. Bell ringing arrangements should comply with guidance available from the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers [ref to this site]”We have also included in these guidance notes for checking bell installations prior to ringing. Please see our checklist below for some key areas that may need addressing. The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that for jobs that cannot safely be done by one person, two or three should enter the bell tower to undertake them, following social distancing guidance if they are not from the same household.
This guidance is being constantly inline with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This website will be updated weekly on a Friday, whether or not there is a change in guidance. Any requests for clarification can be sent to email@example.com – it will get looked at as soon as possible.
The UK Government guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic can be found via this link
The Church of England guidance on Opening Cathedral and Church Buildings can be found via this link
Frequently Asked Questions
We have accumulated all of the questions we have been asked by ringers concerning the guidance, such as why the guidance is still 2m rather than 1m, and whether members of family groups can ring on adjacent bells. We will update these FAQs from time to time and this version is all questions up to 3rd July.
A detailed analysis from Dr Philip Barnes and Dr Andrew Kelso is available to download.
This document seeks to provide information and advice for ringers and those responsible for bell towers regarding Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and what issues ringers and church authorities should consider in responding to changes in Government guidance as we start to ease the current lockdown. It is focused on the situation in the Church of England, which is responsible for the vast majority of churches with bells hung for ringing. While the specific advice from leaders of other churches and in other countries may vary, the basic issues for ringers and ringing are the same wherever we ring.
You will only be able to view the presentation using Impress in LibreOffice. Once you have installed LibreOffice click on the link above to download the presentation. It will not work in PowerPoint or online.
Macro setting required to run the presentation: In Impress (the LibreOffice equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint) you will need to set the Macro Security level to ‘Medium’ in the security settings, the menu structure may vary depending on which operating system you are using – Go to the ‘Tools‘ menu (or on some operating systems the ‘LibreOffice’ menu); select ‘Options…‘ (or ‘Preferences…’) ; expand the ‘LibreOffice‘ heading and select ‘Security‘ then click on the ‘Macro Security…‘ button; On the ‘Security Level’ tab select ‘Medium‘.
St Peter’s Church Bell ringer John Leary, one of the young ringers, tolled the tenor bell on behalf of the band paying tribute to the fallen, before the Sunday Remembrance Day commemorations in Petersfield. John, photographed in the St Peter’s Church Bell Tower is standing by the photograph, on the right of the picture of the Rev Victor Wardle former assistant Priest at Petersfield and a bell ringer. He died in an internment camp in Japan on 4th January 1945.
A poppy wreath was taken to the Petersfield War Memorial on Sunday afternoon and placed there on behalf of the St Peter’s Church Bell ringers by Caroline M Welsh, bell ringer, with the following card inscription.
We wanted to share with the Guild some fond memories from last years Ypres visit by the Alton & Petersfield District.
We felt especially at this significant time of year sharing a very moving and memorable clip of Emma Hornsby, Sam Marriot and Roger Barber from A&P District laying a wreath on behalf of the Guild would be fitting in time for Armistice Day.
The short clip was filmed during the Last Post Ceremony with over 2000 attending the Saturday 28th September 8pm ceremony at the Menin Gate Ypres Belgium. The band played ‘The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins’ as we watched the wreath laying by groups, families and societies from as far as Australia and Canada. There weren’t many dry eyes.
Just over a year on, our world is a very different place. We hope, and pray that by this time next year we’ll all be in a much better place and sharing once again the delightful sounds of our bells deliver across communities.
I remember the first letter I ever wrote to The Ringing World. I had spent part of my school holidays adding up the tenor weights of all the rings of bells in Dove and had come to the conclusion that the average tower was a 13 cwt eight. And yes I have to admit this was in the olden days before calculators. I think now that calculation can be done with a keystroke, but I was 13, bored and keen. So here’s a supplementary for 10 points. What are all those bells worth?
I only ask because what we pay to be members of our associations is one of the topics of discussion in the series of consultations we (the Council) are engaged in at the moment – see Friday’s Ringing World for more detail or read about it here. We get to use an astonishingly expensive instrument at very little cost because we provide a service to those who own them. Quite fortunate really.
The pandemic has shown how change ringing can be practised without bells via a number of online platforms. If you don’t know what Minecraft is then this paragraph will be lost on you and you may wish to skip ahead or google it and come back. Innovation in online ringing took another step forward, or sideways depending how you view it, with the first collaborative ringing performance in Minecraft. The pioneering band, comprising Jake Reid (creator), George Vant, Lewis Benfield, Tim King and Luca Greenslade, rang Grandsire Doubles and Plain Hunt Minor in a realm created in this virtual world, with communication on Discord (as used by all serious online peal bands). The performance can be viewed here.
If you are reading the Tuesday edition of this Blog then you have five days left to submit an entry for the October YouTube competition which is for the best online training video. There is lots of good material out there, including some well-curated collections, so this should make up for last month’s competition which didn’t quite work.
You might also want to think about the November comp now for which the subject is “Film that promotes ringing in the most positive way”. Again, that round was dreamt up when we thought we would be ringing again by now, so it may be difficult to produce something involving new ringing footage, but who knows? Who would have thought we would be ringing in Minecraft? Unlike previous months I don’t think there is a need for these videos to be short necessarily.
Staying online, the development of Dove continues to move forward. Last week’s developments included better presentation of towers with more than one ring of bells (slightly esoteric but I have learned something about Ovingham), and you can now see a translation of the nominal frequencies in terms of the given note of the scale plus or minus the number of cents away from that note by hovering over the nominals – again that scores highly on the esoteric scale although it got me looking at the stretch on the trebles at the Bull Ring.
And finally on the subject of all things online, and at the risk of losing even more readers, I have signed up for TikTok so I can keep up with the kids. The app asked me to choose my interests to get personalized [sic] recommendations. None of mine were on the list. So I just went for Sports and Talent. What are ‘Life Hacks’? I didn’t select that just in case. The first two videos it sent me did not fill me with confidence, and my understanding of the ‘Talent’ category was clearly wrong, so maybe TikTok is just not for me (which was also Charlie’s view).
These were a difficult couple of weeks for the Covid guidance team, with the release of the Tiers in England, followed by different Tiers in Wales and Scotland and supported by sub-optimally drafted legislation. Our friends in the House of Bishops Recovery Group were also frustrated – they had to deal with discussions such as whether paying bridesmaids enables them to be classed as ‘workers’ and hence be excluded from the list of 15 who can attend the wedding, and legal advice that said the vicar was not in the 15 despite it actually being their place of work. You start to feel for those involved in trying to draft loophole-free legislation.
Prior to a call with Julia Cater and Elva Ainsworth last weekend to review progress and strategy for the Women in Ringing project, I spent half an hour reading more the stories on the Women in Ringing website. As I have said before, if you don’t think gender is an issue in ringing, read some of these. Julia now has 24 female ringers and one male ringer engaged in the production of the research articles that are getting published in The Ringing World, and they are working a special focus edition coming out in mid November.
Those who look after young ringers’ groups or who interact with young ringers on Ringing Room should be interested in an ‘online ringing’ permission form developed by the St Martin’s Guild for safeguarding. It has recommendations around parental consent, having parents present, and other important considerations. It can be found here.
The young ringers group I run, the Brumdingers, keeps going like many others with occasional and highly valued bursts of tower bell ringing, Ringing Room, and outdoor handbells, now with head torches. This week fresh interest was injected by starting to learn tune ringing on handbells, beginning with Silent Night. “Why are we starting to ring carols in October?” “Because I think it’s going to take you two months to get it right…” Thanks to Don Bedford for sending me a copy of the excellent “Carol Ringing and More.” I joined music teachers everywhere in being amused (at first) by one of the youngsters referring to his bell as the “A hashtag” rather than the more traditional A sharp.
For all of us able to get to a tower to ring, Remembrance Sunday ringing will be different, maybe strange, this year and it will be disappointing most likely for those of us unable to ring ourselves. The remembrance element of the occasion is as important as ever of course, possibly even more so as so many of our communities face such uncertainty and many challenges in everyday life.
Please be kind enough to let me know if your tower has Remembrance Ringing plans, or if you will be ringing handbells or using Ringing Room or similar, as it will help me to respond to media enquiries in good time. In due course, please let me know what you were able to ring, as it will be of interest, and also encouraging, for churches, communities and ringers alike.
Our Guild’s digital archive for the World War 1 Centenary Commemoration is still open for new entries; it will be updated again in the early part of 2021.
A few weeks ago, Mary Broadbridge, tower captain at St Peter’s church Petersfield Hampshire organised a special hand bell ringing teaching session taken very kindly by Iain Hayden who has been ringing with the St Peter’s tower band over the last year. There were six learners who under Iain’s tutelage managed to ring rounds and one or two call changes. Every one very much enjoyed the morning and we are all hoping it will be one of many teaching sessions when with practice we can progress to ringing methods. Of course, depending on what Covid restrictions are in
A few weeks ago, Mary Broadbridge, tower captain at St Peter’s church Petersfield Hampshire organised a special hand bell ringing teaching session taken very kindly by Iain Hayden who has been ringing with the St Peter’s tower band over the last year. There were six learners who under Iain’s tutelage managed to ring rounds and one or two call changes. Every one very much enjoyed the morning and we are all hoping it will be one of many teaching sessions when with practice we can progress to ringing methods. Of course, depending on what Covid restrictions are in place in the future.
The St Peter’s Church band ring for Sunday Service at 09:00 for fifteen minutes and on Wednesday practice for fifteen minutes, ringers taking it in turns to ring on different weeks.
It’s funny how words come into your lexicon (like that one). I have spent 50 years not feeling a need to use the word ‘nuanced’ and now hardly a day goes by without it coming into conversation. (nuanced: a. characterized by subtle shades of meaning or expression.) The current review of the Coronavirus ringing guidance is intended to be more ‘nuanced’ – to recognise the different levels of risk for different people and in different ringing settings, and enable more local risk assessment and decision making. As I write this, the new three tier system has been announced in England, which may then be reflected in the rest of the UK, and we will need to assess its implications quickly.
Of course ringing restrictions are not just about the United Kingdom. In Australia, nearly all the towers were shut at one stage, but now only about half remain listed as completely shut. The others are anything from minimal ringing to nearly normal. Regulations vary enormously from State to State in Australia, as do the policies of individual churches. Some towers are ringing in New Zealand and plenty of quarters are being reported from Wellington. Kilifi is open and ringing! Last weekend would have been the North American Guild AGM in Honolulu but of course it was replaced with a Zoom meeting with rather more variable weather conditions.
Ringers everywhere in the world are grateful for the opportunities presented by Ringing Room but have you also seen what I think is the best explanation of bellringing in a short video ever? I almost need to create a special category in the YouTube competition to be able to give it a prize. Maybe I should send a prize anyway because the September competition didn’t work out. Well done to Kemp Brinson for this video.
A good week for media coverage. The Spectator carried a brilliant article initially asking why the bells were not ringing at Westminster Abbey. Clearly very well researched, completely in tune with the current restrictions, very supportive and appreciative of bellringing. It is behind a paywall but has been posted in the Bellringers Facebook group. I’ll see if we can get permission to publish it (although this may work). One could quote almost all of it but perhaps just: “Among themselves, ringers refer to their art as ‘The Exercise’. How excellent is that? Recently, Catherine Pepinster at the Telegraph urged young people to keep the art alive. I would have thought it was a natural choice for the Harry Potter generation.”
Another Zoom call last week with the CofE Recovery Group which culminated in the post made last Friday and in The Ringing World. What we have also just got on the radar is the subject of guidance to support Devon’s call change competitions. This is something in which I have a keen interest because I would like to see how the focus on striking that these call change competitions engender could be used elsewhere. Some bands might enjoy and benefit from developing call change ringing per se, rather than seeing it as a stepping stone to struggling through Bob Doubles.
After the first peal on Ringing Room, I suggested it was something no one else would ever do. So I am a bit surprised that I have now rung three. This doesn’t put me very high up the leading peal ringers during lockdown list, which is headed by some prolific handbell ringers, for whom the pandemic has almost been an opportunity. At least it has given time for some people to develop their handbell ringing. The list is headed by Daniel Page, Daniel Page’s brother (and recently elected Junior Steward of the SRCY – congratulations Jack), and Colin Newman.
Possibly the most stupendous peal of the pandemic has just been published – the Perrins family ringing Scientific Triples in hand (pictured). Although the magnitude of this achievement will be lost on many, enough people spotted it to give it that most current and coveted of accolades – ‘Top of the Pops’ on BellBoard. Scientific has been rung to a peal in hand once before – by members of the St Martin’s Guild (including the current Editor of The Ringing World on 1-2) in 2008.
Sunday morning saw a call from one Bruno Peek. This might be a name you recognise, but if not he is the self-styled “Pageant Master”, who has spent the last 30 years organising nationwide acts of celebration, described by The Independent as “the go to man when Britain stops to remember the past.” One of his most high-profile ventures was organising the lighting of 250 beacons across the United Kingdom (and islands) for the Queen’s 90th birthday. He was also behind VE Day and VJ Day celebrations. Bruno is very keen on bells. He sees bellringing as a key way to bring communities together and mark special occasions. So far so good. He wants bell ringing to be part of an annual celebration of the founding of the NHS, which we can probably manage (next July). And he wants to help with the “Britain’s Favourite Bellringers” idea. Awesome.
I have not mentioned this before. Imagine an annual competition to find Britain’s Favourite Bellringers, or better still the World’s Favourite Bellringers, voted on by local communities rather than ringers themselves. This would highlight and profile how important bells are and help make people realise what is going on in the tower. I think maybe regional heats, then national finals. This is a good time to do it because the lockdown has made many communities realise that they miss their bells. Bruno loves the idea for a start, and thinks he can get it in the Daily Express and the Telegraph. Let me know if you have any bright ideas about how this might work in practice.
And Bruno also chipped in £25 for the Mobile Belfry. He would like the proposed Mobile Belfry to be the centrepiece of the final celebrations, parked on Horseguards Parade in front of all the media. Now wouldn’t that be great?
At the recent AGM, it was announced that regrettably our General Secretary has had to stand down due to personal reasons and we are URGENTLY seeking a replacement to fill the post for the next 2 years until re-election of officers in June 2022.
It is important for the Guild that we find someone to fill this role. Ideally we would like to have someone available that could be voted in post at the November Exec. If you think there may be someone in your tower who might be interested then please get in contact with them to find out. I would love somebody to just come forward and volunteer however if you think that you might be interested please do not hesitate to email me or give me a call (07583 356 936) to chat about it.
Also attached are 2 recruitment posters for Communications and Striking competition Committees. The Comms committee additionally needs a convener, a post which Andrew Glover has been covering since Gary Marsh left as well as his Webmaster role and he could do with a well-earned break. In the same way please could you consider joining one of these committees to support the Guild or actively discuss with tower members who you think may be interested or suited to the job.
Master – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers.
I wouldn’t be surprised if no ringer below the age of 20 is reading this. I would be pleased if they were, but I am realistic enough to know that our print and social media does not hit a youth audience. This point came up this week because Julia Cater asked whether the distribution of the Women in Ringing stories request could go out on Instagram and pick up younger views. The answer unfortunately was ‘no’.
Like them or loathe them, the Kardashians were masters of providing a channel to younger audiences – they almost wrote the book on it (not that it was a book). If you want to reach an audience of under 20s you just pay an appropriate influencer to mention it on their Instragram and hey presto you’ve done it. So is there an opportunity for a young ringer to establish that channel?
I was all set to ask for volunteers to help with quarter peal analysis in this blog but after mentioning it at the Central Council meeting last Saturday I already have volunteers. After many years of sterling service in analysing quarter peals, Alan Buswell has retired from his annual analysis, and the painstaking recording work behind the scenes. Quarter peals are a rich source of information on the state and development of ringing, from the grass roots to the sturdy branches (and the odd dandelion). We don’t actually learn that much from which person or tower recorded the most performances, but what do you think would make for interesting analysis? Who has called most people’s first quarter peal? Who has achieved the most different firsts in a year? It is probably from the footnotes that we can learn the most.
Getting this people-level data accurate is actually very difficult. In a perfect world, no two people would have the same name, no names would be abbreviated, no one would change middle initials or shuffle theirs round for fun (so, I was young and stupid), and definitely no one would be called Phillip. I have rung performances with four different David Smiths and there are 10 others! Unique ringer IDs would be ideal.
We welcomed the Clerical Guild to the Central Council at the AGM and they came with a useful offer of help in current discussions with churches. One thing to consider is increasing ringer representation on PCCs. It is a very good way of raising the profile of ringers in the church. When I learned to ring at Cannock, there was a ‘Ringers Pew’. This was necessary because without it the late-arriving bell ringers would not get a seat. Think about that for a moment. The ringers would not get a seat. Most of the band went to the service (or sang in the choir) and a large parish church was full every Sunday.
This has been a difficult week for Coronavirus guidance. The ‘Rule of Six’ has changed the playing field once again – there can be more handbell ringing indoors but question marks over meeting more than six in church. We might be allowed to reduce our ringing distancing to 1m+ but in view of the surge in infection levels will anyone really want to do it? As you will read in my article to be published in Friday’s Ringing World about our latest discussions with the CofE Recovery Group, their approach is to consider “How do we best look after other people?”
By this stage in the year I would normally expect to have most weekends in the following year booked up, with peal dates fixed up sometimes well over a year in advance. We try and have a family rule that the last free weekend in any month is ‘protected’ just to leave some space for spontaneity! My last 2020 peal was cancelled ages ago and now I am down to having only one definite 2021 peal attempt. To be fair though I was always expecting far more of the weekends to be set aside for Council-related and other activities. I have a couple of call change competition finals pencilled in, half a dozen dinners, trips to Ireland, Dordrecht, New York, and Vernet, hopefully a couple of new ringing courses, and early outings with the Mobile Belfry. It will certainly be interesting to see how 2021 unfolds.
One of those new courses will be in the North West of England. Andy Ingham and his team are certainly hoping that the inaugural event can be next year but at the moment they face the difficulty of not even being able to visit venues to check them out. They are developing good ideas for format and content though, and hopefully the Mobile Belfry may make an appearance.
It’s too early to say that ringing on two floors is catching on, but Elstow in Bedfordshire (see picture) started ringing six from two different floors in August, maintain social distancing in three dimensions. St Paul’s Birmingham has now followed suit. St Paul’s has a school room immediately below the ringing chamber, with two dumbbells. It is a key part of the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing’s success. It is now enabling eight bells to be rung, with four downstairs and four upstairs. Expect to see touches of Triples being reported soon.
Back in the online world, I was delighted to be able to judge a Carlisle DG striking competition on Ringingroom. No sitting in a draughty vestry or in the car with the window open – this contest was judged from the comfort of my own home. There is probably an inverse relationship between the quality of the scenery and the quality of your broadband so Cumbrian ringers are likely to find forces outside their control affecting their striking. All the bands did really well though. Organiser Chris de Cordova had clearly done her research when an unnecessary but very welcome mini keg of Fyne Ales arrived by courier as a gesture of thanks. Now I just need to organise a house party to enjoy it with friends. Ah….
First Ringing Since Lock Down at St Peter’s Church Norman Bell Tower Petersfield Hampshire
A group of joyous St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers rang on Sunday 2nd August for the first time since lock down in March.
To comply with social distancing, the band rang up four of the eight bells, ringing rounds and call changes finishing with a ring down in Peal. The ringers are now allowed to ring for fifteen minutes for Sunday service and for weddings.
Mrs Vanda Leary, St Peter’s Church Warden has placed the ringing performance on the St Peter’s Church Face Book Page for those wishing to hear the ringing.
Names of ringers in the photographs:
Names of ringers in the photographs:
Left to Right: Jackie and John Downham, Mary Broadbridge, Tower Captain, and young ringer John Leary who rang the heavy 15 ½ Tenor bell which dates back to 1770.
The date for the Guild AGM is Saturday 26th September 2020 starting at 3pm. This will now be held online using Zoom Webinar.
You will be required to register if you wish to attend the AGM, and instructions on how to do this will be sent out with the meeting papers.
Due to the added pressures of running the AGM online, we need to streamline the process as much as possible to minimise delay on the day. To help with this, please register apologies of absence with the Hon. Gen. Secretary before 26th September. Also, please use the link to send in any questions you would like answered at the meeting or any items of AOB for the agenda. You will be able to ask questions during the meeting, but it would helpful to the Guild Officers’ to know of any in advance.
Please also forward me details of any deaths and members eligible for life membership within your district, preferably before Saturday 22nd August.
The papers including the Agenda will be distributed to District Secretaries for onward cascade to members by the 26th August.
A while ago I asked what towers had been up to during lockdown. I had a few responses that I have reproduced below:
St Peter’s Bellringers of Titchfield , have been meeting once weekly on Zoom since the lockdown started. We have used our time to catch up with what everyone has been doing, we have also ventured into the Ringing Room with mixed results, we are however becoming used to the software.
One of the upsides of the lockdown is that we have been joined by an ex member at our meetings who is now living in the USA.
Lesley Blackburn – Tower Secretary
The Lockerley and East Tytherley band have been meeting on Jitsi Thursday evenings and Sundays mornings since the start of lockdown. These replace the sessions we used to enjoy in the pub and over coffees. We end each session with some ringing on Ringing Room for those that are interested – we are gradually getting better at it and managed our first 120 of Grandsire Doubles this morning. We also set up a WhatsApp group that gets lots of use by the band.
St Michael’s Basingstoke have a zoom pub night on Wednesday instead of the practice for catch up and recently a quick quiz.
Ringing room practice is late afternoon on sunday. We ate getting better – gradually
Our usual pattern of Zoom meetings continues, Tuesday is quiz night, Friday is round-up of news and Ringing Room, and Sunday morning is another chance to chat – often with a slightly wider group participating.
We have been making a bit of noise on the bells at Hursley. The Hills spent two Sunday mornings chiming four bells, mainly in rounds with a little bit of call changes, since then the Hursley married couples have rung minimus methods on socially distant bells (1, 4, 6, 8 of the front 8) – masked and hand-washed for about 15 minutes before the morning service.
Some of the Hursley and Romsey ringers have joined up on Ringing Room to attempt quarter peals, with limited success. Last week it looked as if we were going to score Yorkshire Major until a frozen screen/ringer stopped the attempt in its tracks.
On a personal note, I was pleased that the family age touch of 63 Stedman Triples eventually came round after multiple starts, although I would have to agree with the footnote – we found this very hard work!
It would be nice to hear how other towers are getting on – I did have the thought that there are now a lot of ringers who cannot ring because of social distancing, but there might be towers that are silent and could use some volunteers to chime/ring for service.
The Cathedral has kept going mainly in the social dimension with walks aranged every – ? – fortnight – but this has all been arranged through the Cathedral What’sApp group, and since What’sApp seems to run only on smart phones and I feel I’m doing quite well if I can telephone people and take the odd ‘photo, I haven’t really got to grips with What’sApp, which also tells me I have a trillion messages and my version of WA is defunct. So no great progress there. We also have a Google Meet session at 7.30 on a Wednesday. That too, I fear, doesn’t work, for me at any rate. All I get is the hula hoop.
We began ringing at the Cathedral last Sunday – with six of us ringing bells #2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11. Very melodious, in a sort of modal, holy-minimalist sort of way. We rang a touch of PB Minor and a course of Cambridge, a hand-picked team. We came down to the Inner close to a round of applause from the rest of the Cathedral ringers. There should be a photo in the Hampshire Chronicle, courtesy of and (c) Colin Cook.
New Alresford has a social get-together on Zoom on Friday nights
Sparsholt has been hosting a get-together night on Monday eves, with people taking it in turn to organise quizzes. We had a grand finale open-air get together with social distancing at Littleton sports ground yesterday, and I think that will be it until September. There has also been a ringing session (using RR) once a week.
Meanwhile, the King’s Somborne/Stockbridge/Broughton/Houghton axis keeps going with five (YES FIVE) weekday sessions of 3/4-hour in The Ringing Room and Zoom. 5.00 p.m. on weekdays.
If anyother tower would like to let me know what they have been up to, please email me here and I can add your report to the website.
This is the first of an occasional series of newsletters being sent out to inform members about what is happening with ringing during the easing of Lockdown and to help prepare for the resumption of regular ringing.
It is being sent to all tower correspondents and Guild and District Officers whose e-mail address is published in the Guild Annual Report, and those on our database. It is important that we reach as many members of our Guild as possible, so please do forward this e-mail on to the other members of your band.
Guild Membership Database
The Guild is developing an electronic membership database, so that we can comply with data protection regulations, as personal data such as members names is published in the Annual Report. We also wish to improve communications with our members, which is important, especially in the current circumstances. We now have an electronic sign up form. Please do give us your consent to hold your personal data by completing the following on-line form, and encourage members of your band to sign up as well.
Message from the Guild Master
The first couple of weeks after lockdown came to me as a bit of a shock, as I am sure it did to you. The impact of having to stay at home was somewhat restrictive but understandably tolerable. Being unable to ring, particularly on a Sunday was however a complete shock to the system having been part of the landscape of my life for the past 40 years. The realisation that I was not the only one impacted and the possible effects on everyone in the Guild hit me very soon after. What would you all do without your weekly ‘fix’ of ringing….
Now, 12 weeks or so into lockdown things seem a little brighter with the ringing community making great efforts to keep in touch with each other using social media, virtual tower pub nights and online practices. Talking to the district Chairs over the last couple of weeks there seems to be pockets of such activity in most parts of the Guild, but by no means everywhere. If you have not already done so and you feel able please reach out to your neighbouring towers to check that they are ok and to support them with our new virtual world if they need it.
With best wishes to you all.
The Ringing World National Youth Competition was due to take place in York on 4th July. There were due to be three teams from the Guild participating, the W&P Youths from the mainland, Vectis Youths from the Isle of Wight and Channel Island Pirates. The youth bands are naturally disappointed that this fantastic event has had to be postponed, but hopefully these bands will be able to participate in next year’s event.
Youth ringing practices on the mainland will start again when possible. Practices are generally on the first Sunday of the month, are open to all ringers aged 18 and under (the youngest regular attendee is now 6), and cater for all abilities from rounds up to Surprise Major / Stedman Caters. Look out for details of practices on the Guild Facebook site and website, or contact Andy Ingram for more information.
When will ringing be able to resume?
Socially distanced handbell ringing is now permissible outdoors, and tower bell ringing has been able to resume in the Channel Islands. However on the mainland, whilst churches will be permitted to hold Sunday services again after 4th July, this limited to a maximum of 30 participants and is subject to ‘social distancing’ measures remaining in place.
Even though it has been reduced to ‘one metre plus’, social distancing in belfries is extremely difficult, and there are a number of detailed considerations to be thought through as part of the risk assessment which parishes are required to undertake beforehand. Mitigation measures will be required Therefore, even when ringing resumes, it may need to be limited to short durations and with just a small group of people. Ringing as we knew it, and especially teaching new ringers, which requires close contact, may still not be possible for a significant period of time.
We will update you in a future newsletter once things change significantly. In the mean time The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers is working with the CofE and detailed guidance, which is regularly updated, can be downloaded from: https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/
Virtual pub visits, quizzes and webinars During lockdown, to keep in touch some bands, such as those at Basingstoke, Hursley, Eling and Alresford are holding virtual pub visits, quizzes and even practices. Zoom is the most popular way of doing this. All that is needed is a computer connected to the internet with a microphone, camera and loudspeakers. The software can be downloaded for free by each of the users and although it’s not the same as meeting people in person, it is a really good way of keeping in touch with each other. There is also a growing list of training webinars which have been delivered on Zoom.
Virtual Practices In addition to Zoom, some ringers have taken this a stage further, using internet gaming technology. Several applications have been developed, the most popular being www.ringingroom.com. Users can make a virtual bell to sound by pressing the ‘J’ key on their keyboard. Local bands have then been practicing ringing rounds, call-changes and even methods together. It takes a little getting used to a first, but it is a really good way of helping newer ringers to count their places, and understand ringing theory, as well as good fun. Other applications include Handbell Stadium and Discord where it is also possible to use motion sensors and dummy handbells to practice double handed handbell ringing.
The Guild Education Committee is putting on a webinnar to help those who have not yet used Zoom or Ringing room to find out more. The webinar will last between about 45 minutes and one hour. There is a choice of three dates/times:
Wednesday 1st July – 7.30pm
Saturday 4th July – 10.00am
Sunday 5th July – 6.00pm
Places on each webinar need to be limited, so please use the booking form below and we will send you login details before your selected date/time.
Please also use the form to tell us what future webinars you would like us to put on. This could be theory of call changes, listening skills, how to learn a particular method, bob calling and conducting, steeple-keeping; introduction to handbell ringing, etc.
We would also like to hear from people who have specialist skills or spare time to help the Guild and its members. You may have some IT skills or communication skills that could help individual towers update their websites and prepare for the resumption of regular ringing, or you might be able to help with delivering on-line training webinars. There is much which could be done. Book your place here.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Association of Ringing Teachers have put together a selection of links to ringing related videos, blogs, quizzes, podcasts and training webinars which will be of interest to members of your band. There’s a lot of material and it’s well worth a look! http://ringingteachers.org/resources/COVID19-ringing-support
Guild Annual General Meeting
The Guild AGM has been re-arranged for Saturday 26th September. Further details will be published in the next edition of this newsletter.
So much has happened in the last two weeks that it is difficult to know where to start. Maybe with ringingroom appearing on BBC News – a great achievement led by CC PR Vicki Chapman, its creators Bryn and Leland, Anthony Matthews for being an eloquent ‘face to camera’ and the online participants. Mainstream media taking a genuine interest and helping to promote us.
Every now and again I post a question on Facebook and the email list which captures the imagination or the mood. Last Sunday it was a link to a list of quarter peal composers, which did not need studying for long to see that it was 99.9999% male. Ringing starts off with 50:50 male/female recruits, the Youth Contest looks about 50:50, university ringing is relatively balanced. But when you look at tower captains, conductors, composers, people asked to call a touch on a tower grab – the imbalance kicks in. If anyone doesn’t think that’s an issue, read some of the impassioned posts in that string, which hit 150 responses in a day (now 194, but wandering). There are even performances on ringingroom which have female ringers on the front bells! Julia Cater is leading a project to establish the scale of this subconscious bias and see what we can do about it. She is in the research phase and keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute.
Great ideas come to us from all quarters. Quilla Roth in Washington emailed me a spreadsheet of all the training webinars she had found, with a suggestion that we publish an index of them. With quick work from Web Editor Mark Elvers, and a ring around of the producers of all the pieces, we got the Index published within a week of Quilla’s email. There are so many good webinars now, and more being produced all the time. ART, Lewisham District, Cambridge District and the St Martin’s Guild are particularly active. One positive of lockdown at least. https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-index/
At the end of the Brumdingers practice each week we give a chocolate medal to whoever has made the greatest contribution to the practice that week. My virtual chocolate medal this week goes to Laura Goodin, for taking the initiative to organise the first of what may be many Plain Bob Doubles clinics on ringingroom. She recruited teachers, helpers and students via the Take-Hold Lounge, and from reading comments after they were great.
Leaving most of this Blog until finishing a very interesting Zoom session with the Guild of Devonshire Ringers has left me facing a small hours finish. (I have promised Will copy by the time he wakes up tomorrow.) It was great to discuss the Strategic Priorities with them – fascinating to get their views for instance on the place of call changes in the overall mix. I am sure that we have to get a culture where ringing good rounds and call changes is a perfectly acceptable target. We are putting people off. One person on a Zoom I had with the South Walsham ringers last week said “if I could go back to my band post lockdown and say ‘all we need to do is ring call changes well’ they will love me forever.”
Call changes then had a major feature in last week’s Ringing World and the Accidental ringer blog covered the subject, following the discussion in virtual South Walsham. If you don’t follow the Accidental ringer it is always a good read and her blog on Strategic Priority 5 is here
Along with a trip to Bromyard last week that is the last of the Zoom bookings I have in my diary. I have learned a lot from people I have talked to who I might not otherwise have ever met, and appreciate the interest they have shown in the Council and its work.
More guild and associations have held their AGMs using Zoom. Furthering my research into how to run AGMs I joined the ODG for theirs and can report that it was a very professionally run show (I managed to do all the ironing as well but they didn’t know that!). The Council’s AGM is on course for September and Secretary Mary Bone is working very hard on assembling the paperwork. She will start getting nervous as I adopt my lastminute.com approach to all the things that seem to have my name next to them. End of the month really does mean that. Don’t panic Mary!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote 1000 words (Blog length) for a Newsletter if anyone else has space to fill? Would Newsletter Editors welcome a string of material from Workgroups or are you pretty self sufficient? It couldn’t be particularly timely but it might be possible to serve up some articles once a quarter or so for general use. Is there a Newsletter Editor mailing list or group?
Last week was ‘Volunteer Week’. (Who makes these up? Today is ‘World Oceans Day’ btw). I saw Exeter Cathedral’s bellringers featured in a Volunteer Week piece, Birmingham and Worcester Cathedrals made a point of mentioning the value of their bellringers in their Volunteers Week releases and I am sure others did too. It is sometimes difficult for the ringers of these ‘bigger’ towers to become part of the church community, but it pays dividends.
Monday 1st June turned into ‘National Handbell Day’, overshadowing World Reef Awareness Day in the national consciousness. Lockdown restrictions enabled non family handbell bands to assemble in the open air, armed with sun cream and hand sanitiser. My excursion to Great Barr park for some Cambridge Royal didn’t result in a post on Bellboard, but others did, and seven handbells peals were rung in the first week (the Page household becoming a hotbed of activity).
Many of us will have been missing our ringing since the lockdown began mid-March and still no idea when we can safely return to tower bell ringing.
So what have you all been up to since then?
Have you made use of video conferencing for video chats or used the online ringing platforms or perhaps even taken up new hobby? Or maybe you have just enjoyed the break!
We would love to know what you have been up to, so please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will collate the replies. It would be really great to know what everyone has been doing and might encourage bands that have been fairly quiet to do something.
I know that Hursley have been meeting on Zoom 3 times a week! Peter Hill says “Sunday morning (11:00) is a general catch up – not much is happening tbh, and we sometimes have time for a short touch on Ringing Room. Tuesday has turned into quiz night – quite a jolly affair usually – even if Chris Hill seems to win most of the rounds. Friday night has a greater focus on ringing – touches of Cambridge Minor and Grandsire Triples have come round, but we have seen only modest improvement in our ringing.“
Very impressive Hursley! – can any other towers beat that?
Bellringing during lockdown on the BBC!
Following an international collaboration, it is hoped that BBC TV will air a segment in their main news bulletins on Saturday 30th May 2020 on bellringing during lockdown, including interviews and a feature on virtual ringing using Ringing Room.
At the moment the segment is scheduled to air on the main evening news bulletins which are 5.30pm & 10pm on BBC 1 subject to being overtaken by events but the editors are really keen on it so fingers crossed.
Our bells have not been rung for many months so it is very important that ringers arrange to undertake appropriate maintenance checks and any necessary remedial work before we start to ring in every tower.
Even though we may be asked or wish to ring at the first opportunity, it is essential that we make sure that it is safe to do so. We do not wish to cause yet more problems for the NHS and emergency services!
Stay at home may no longer apply, but protect the NHS, save lives must still be a firm resolve!
In addition, in most areas people in the vicinity of the tower have become accustomed to the unusual quiet – the bells have not been rung, many church chiming clocks have stopped, and traffic, aircraft, building and industry noises have all reduced markedly. This is a good opportunity to alert neighbours through the local media.
What to do as we prepare to ring again
First, it must be remembered that the majority of bells are the property of the church, so the Tower Captain should confirm with the incumbent that they agree to ringing recommencing.
We strongly advise that all ringing societies ensure that the conditions in every tower are checked. This includes those towers where there are few or no ringers since for these towers, the correspondents may just be a key holder and they may well not be aware that checks should be undertaken or what to look for. We need to avoid the risk that they could let ringers into a tower many weeks or months after we start to ring again, without any checks being done.
Why are we advising that these checks are done, when no one will have been in the church or tower? Even though this should have been the case, no one will have been aware of what may have occurred – for example:
The louvres and bird netting may have been dislodged so that birds have entered the tower and built up what can become very large piles of twigs! (see The Ringing World, issue 5631, March 2019)
Somebody may have entered the tower for some reason, legitimate or otherwise, and left something or removed something such that the conditions in the tower are no longer safe.
Something may have broken or become dislodged during the period since the tower was last visited and could now be in a dangerous state.
If the bells were left mouth up, then something may have fallen into a bell, for example rainwater. (IMPORTANT – checks in the bell chamber with bells up will only be feasible in towers where it is safe to move around without any risk of injury while the bells are up.)
For the relatively few towers where bells are usually left mouth up all the time, this may be an ideal time to undertake fuller inspections and any maintenance, whilst the bells are still down and before being rung again.
The schedule is taken from the CCCBR Manual of Belfry Maintenance 2017 (available here https://cccbr.org.uk/product-category/maint-rest/) It is essential that the Weekly, Monthly and Quarterly checks are completed. Also the Annual checks if those have not been done since about September 2019. Once complete, add these checks to the tower maintenance records, as advised on Page 110 of the Manual. If you do not have people who have the necessary skill and expertise to complete the checks, then ask for assistance from your local ringing society (https://cccbr.org.uk/about/members/)
This is also the time to alert local residents that the bells will be ringing again. This can be on the church website, posters on the church notice board, church newsletters and even notes through letter boxes in the surrounding area. Take the opportunity to remind them of normal service and practice times, along with other extra ringing that may be proposed. Invite them to see the ringers in action – it may be the time to recruit some new recruits!
Who would have thought that seven hours of virtual Council meetings could be enjoyable? Such was the variety of discussion and number of people involved last Sunday that it was no hardship, and really quite a nice day in. The ‘to do’ list is rather more frightening but at least it is shared widely.
Four new faces joined our meetings for the first time. Dickon Love I mentioned last time, and gave a very interesting (and professional) presentation on the Dove development plans, while Colin Newman and Ian Roulstone (see blogs passim) took the opportunity to get input into the schools, youth groups and university work. Then Mark Regan contributed to Council work for the first time. I have asked Mark to establish an as yet unnamed Workgroup to develop strategic relationships with the Church, heritage and funding bodies. He brings lots of contacts with organisations such as the Church Building Council, NHLF, Arts Council, DACs, Cathedrals, etc, and is already helping on a number of initiatives.
One participant in that and many recent Zoom calls is no longer with us. My constant lap companion Not Sherman (so called because we already had a cat called Sherman and this wasn’t him) shuffled off this mortal coil. He had become a social media star in his own right and will be missed by all his fans.
This isn’t a great time to be in any bell related business although there was good news this week in that the CofE has allowed opening of churches to contractors, which should enable bell work to resume. And while on the subject of bell work, the deadline for nominations for the Westley Awards for bell maintenance is 31st May – this is particularly aiming to recognise the development of skills in belfry work (search on google if you didn’t see the link).
The Surrey AGM was much trailed on social media and congratulations for doing it. There is a recording on their website which is worth watching by any association contemplating such a meeting. My only comment was that CCCBR was spelt CCCRB on the slide!! But at least you have elected good CC Reps who I am sure will be making an active contribution.
I am writing this watching the RSCM’s Zoom discussion on how to keep church music alive. In many ways their problem is greater than ours. There were some high-quality bookcases behind the speakers – clearly curated specially for camera. Unlike my back ground which is a set of bookcases and cabinets filled with hippos. And that was on the same day that the Sunday Times published an article on the potential for large-scale permanent closure of churches.
The breadth of subject matter for ringing Zoom meetings and talks seems to be increasing as organisers run out of training material. The Worcester Cathedral ringers kindly invited me to their weekly Zoom practice last week to talk about the Central Council and their place in it (and yes the audience was the same size at the end as the beginning), and I have another couple of gigs booked in. If anyone else has got to the point of needing to find external speakers I am more than happy to give what is quite a personal view of the Council, and take feedback from the coal face.
Lots of these invitations to join people or to think about different things come as a result of people saying “I read your blog and…” That is a great motivator for continuing to write them, along with the challenge of introducing surprising words! Just wait for this week’s.
Top entertainment was the Leicester Guild’s Monday night Bristol Maximus extravaganza marking the 70th anniversary of the first peal thereof, which was rung by a local Leicester band. Garry Mason gave an excellent talk about the peal and its ringers, which was followed by a gallant attempt to demonstrate quite how difficult it is to ring Bristol Maximus on ringingroom.com with a hand-picked 11 plus one stand-in who happened to be spotted lurking in the churchyard. “Let’s just ring four leads!” he said.
Chris Mew has retired from his very long-standing role as the CC’s Safeguarding Officer. He may well have been in post from the time subject first came to prominence and was responsible for all the Council’s guidance papers, as well as maintaining close contact with the Church’s safeguarding hierarchy. Chris’ contribution to Council work is far greater than just this and hopefully it won’t be too long before we can thank him appropriately. Chris has handed over to Ann White and Dave Bassford, who will share the role.
The other day out cycling, Charlie asked me one of her random questions – “Dad, how is your mind organised?” Tricky. I know how I recall methods though. I see a complete half line as a picture in my head, and in spliced I can quickly recall those pictures. Eleanor says that where I seem to have a neatly indexed filing cabinet she has a lucky dip bag. I asked in the PPE Facebook group what other people see and pretty much established that all our minds work differently.
I have finally worked out why there are two CCCBR Facebook groups. One isn’t a Group it’s a Page! Duh.
Plans for the Birmingham University of Bell Ringing have taken a leap forward with the identification of a site we can have, and the Leader of the Council telling his planning team to ‘make it happen.’ There are a few hurdles left of course, and a lot of money to find, but the plan published in The Ringing World a few weeks ago could yet come to fruition.
I am looking forward to the first YouTube competition finishing this week. 24 entries in so far including two handbells touches. Bostin’!
The 123rd Annual meeting of the Central Council will be unlike any that has gone before. As with all other large gatherings and meetings we are going to have to manage with an event which is either wholly or largely virtual. We are currently investigating the best virtual platform to use and the degree (if any) to which a physical presence might be appropriate.
Even the best virtual platform will impose some constraints, so we are also planning how best to conduct our formal business. A key element of our preparation will be to ensure that business is limited to what is essential and that any concerns or issues raised by Council Members are addressed in advance, as both debate and voting will be more difficult that in a normal setting.
One very important item on the Agenda is nominations for the post of Treasurer, because Andy Smith is standing down. Please consider volunteering if you have the necessary skills, or introduce this opportunity to someone you think might be interested.
You might be surprised to see a call for nominations for President when I was only elected in September last year. I have definitely got a few things left to do! This is however because I was elected to fill the vacancy when Christopher O’Mahony had to return to Australia. I would be happy to continue if nominated.
The AGM of The Ringing World will be part of the virtual meeting just as it would have been in Nottingham.
Following the postponement of the competitions in May this year due to Covid-19 issues we are proposing to hold the competitions on Saturday 5th September instead of the 10-bell Inter District competition. The venues are still to be confirmed but are still planned to be in the C&S District.
This is all reliant on the CC and C of E position at the time, however please put it in your diary as a date to work towards. I think we are all dubious as to whether we will be ringing by then so this is a stake in the ground for now. We may need to consider something different nearer the time.
Master – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers.