Somehow this Winchester District course had passed me by. Whether I was distracted from ringing, or perhaps I saw Bob Doubles and subconsciously subtracted it from my mind, having barely become confident enough to Plain Hunt inside. My first reaction to Edmund’s email prompt to encourage me to attend was, “it can’t apply to me, surely?”. Apparently there were only two takers for the course with just a few days to go so some active marketing was required.
With a number of willing helpers and a tower available it would be have been a slap in the face to the good will of our neighbouring ringers were it to have been cancelled.
As it turned out there were six learners taken through Bob Doubles, each having three or four extended goes at it, supported by Edmund on our shoulder and well struck by the supporters. Some of the background crew took their turn at polishing up their Bob Minor.
The ringing chamber of Cheriton was comfortable with lots of ringing character about it. Easy access, through the vestry and up a short, broad flight of wooden stairs. Water was brought out to freshen us up halfway through which was a lovely touch. Really nice bunch of people. Although we did try to introduce ourselves at the beginning it never really works unless your used to doing it. I think stickers with a name and tower written on it would be good. If you end up connecting with someone, simple things like that help massively.
Sharon brought her Dad who was visiting and had never seen her ring. That was very touching. He took video on his phone of her and I took video on my phone of them! I am staggered that so few photos or video is taken of bellringing. Whilst the rest of the world is documented and promoted via images, bellringing, with all its archivists and attention to peal record keeping, a deep history of accuracy, doesn’t really see the camera as a recorder of our ringing legacy, let alone our best advertising tool.
A lovely afternoon of making progress with my ringing and bit of networking across some towers which will play out productively over time. Thanks to all involved. If I knew who you were and where to find you I’ll see you soon. Better still, send me a photo from your home tower to firstname.lastname@example.org #bellringing #roguesgallery
This month our Beyond Bob Doubles practice will be at Cheriton on 30th January from 19:30 to 21:00, all welcome from the Winchester District and beyond. This is an opportunity to ring anything from grandsire doubles and plain bob minor to Stedman and surprise minor, if there is anything you would like to try just let me know. The next Guild Education Day on Cambridge major is in just over a month so if you want a little extra practice at Cambridge minor before then this is your opportunity.
In order not to spam the whole District/Guild I have a fairly limited distribution list so feel free to forward this e-mail to anyone who might be interested, and if you wish to be taken off the list then let me know.
Please find here the poster for our next Quarterly Meeting, in Word 2003 and PDF formats.
As always the May meeting is the occasion of our District Striking Competitions – methods and call-changes. Do think about whether you’d like to enter a band: it’s good experience which hopefully feeds into your service ringing as well as recreatioanl ringing.
I’ll get the agenda and the minutes ot the ADM out in a couple of days,
2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Striking Competitions: Cheriton Parish Church, Postcode SO24 0PY
4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tea at the Primary School, Postcode SO24 0QA
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Quarterly District Meeting at the School
6.30 p.m. – 7.30 p.m. Open Ringing, Cheriton Parish Church
Striking Competitions: Applications to enter the Competitions by Wednesday 9 May to Bruce Purvis
Tea: Names for tea by Sunday 6 May to Craig Robb (see Poster for contact details)
The Practice at Cheriton, on Thursday, is at the early time of 6.30 to 7.45 (because there is so much else going on in Cheriton, including Thursday nights at the church!). However, that does give you plenty of time to go on to the Flower Pots afterwards.
A Series of Special Practices in Winchester District which is intended to move ringers along from Bob Doubles towards other methods such as Grandsire Doubles, Little Bob Minor, Stedman Doubles, Plain Bob Minor and sometimes also Triples and Major Methods.
You are, as usual, warmly invited to the District Carol Service, this year on Saturday 3rd December, at 3.00 p.m., and our thanks go to the Cheriton Band for their kind offer to host the event. If you are planning to attend, please let me know by email or ‘phone, so that we have an idea of the likely numbers.
St Swithun’s senior girls’ school and Winchester College are less than two miles apart geographically, and have long had links in many areas, both social and educational.
Winchester College is also one of few schools in the UK to have its own functional ring of bells, rung regularly by staff and pupils and used as a co-curricular training activity. As a parent of two daughters at St Swithun’s and an active member of the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild, it occurred to me in early 2015 that an untapped and rich pool of potential young ringing recruits existed on our doorstep, with the tools to train them already in place.
I approached Hugh Hill, the College master who runs the ringing, who responded enthusiastically to the proposal to join the schools in a co-curricular after school activity; the St Swithun’s clubs coordinator and headmistress were all for it too, and so I turned my mind to the practicalities of getting the initiative off the ground.
Ringing at the College chapel during the Summer term was not going to be possible because of the proximity of the bells to the rooms where the public exams are held; we agreed to kick off at the beginning of the new academic year, and so it was in June that I braved a school hall of a captive audience of six hundred girls and staff at their morning assembly to talk on my favourite subject.
With a time-constraint of fifteen minutes, I chose to focus on debunking myths and preconceptions about ringing which could be deterrents, emphasising the rich social opportunities of which established ringers are well-aware, and the liberal use of video clips of good-looking young male university students engaged in expert ringing. The obligatory Mars Bars Monks were well-received, and some basic maths, physics, history, Greek and Latin, religion and politics got the teaching staff onside.
I invited the girls to a taster session at Winchester Cathedral, and organised plenty of handling teachers, so that they could all have a try. Seven girls and two staff members came on that evening, with others interested but unable to come, it being the last Wednesday of term. We showed them the bells, they all had the opportunity to try some basic handling, and were treated to some of the best ringing the Cathedral band could produce on the occasion.
Moving forward to the Autumn, I turned my mind to the practicalities of training several complete novices on a Tuesday afternoon in a fifty-minute slot. I am not myself a handling teacher, and have a full time job, as do many of the local teachers; I rearranged my work timetable so that I could at least be present, and approached as many of my ringing teaching friends I could think of who are no longer in employment on a weekday afternoon . Because the girls are always accompanied by school staff members, we were able to circumvent any cumbersome disclosure checks. Charles, Edmund, Bruce and Colin rose to the occasion, and have been stalwart, patient and faithful teachers throughout the club’s first term.
The girls signed up for their after-school clubs at the start of the Autumn term, and we ended up with six girls – one already a competent rounds and call-changes ringer – and three staff members, one of whom is an experienced ringer. Everything appeared to be in place for an early September kick-off, when a spanner was thrown in the works; the clock mechanism at the College chapel packed up, and we were unable to ring until Smiths were able to come to fix it. Keen not to lose momentum, I requested permission to ring at
Cheriton, my local church, and both the girls and the College boys were duly transported to the countryside for the first four weeks.
With such a high ratio of teachers to pupils, we have been able to give the girls plenty of rope time, despite the time constraints, although ever conscious of the racket that must be apparent from the outside! After one term, they are all handling independently (with watchful supervision) and the College boys have been able to make significant progress with the increase in the number of experienced ringers at their practice. The novices are all now probationary Guild members, affiliated to the College, and have been given the incentive that with enough improvement, we can perhaps get a band together to ring for the school end-of-year service at Winchester Cathedral, and for their Carol service next Christmas.
Moving forward to next term, all the girls seem keen to return; feedback from my daughters is that ringing is perceived as a quirky and fun activity, different in so many ways from the plethora of after-school clubs on offer, and that there are quite a few girls thinking of trying it out. We will, however, give priority to existing pupils, and will be constrained by the number of girls that can be accommodated in the school minibus, the number that can be safely squeezed into the tower, and how many we can reasonably train at any one time, and so we have pointed several girls in the direction of their own local tower.
For now, the future of the club looks healthy. And next Summer term, we will return to Cheriton, with the kind permission of the church wardens, so that no exam candidate is distracted by our no-doubt much-improved ringing.
Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers