Channel Islands District future move to the Salisbury Diocesan Guild

Channel Islands District future move to the Salisbury Diocesan Guild.

Dear Friends

As you may be aware from previous statements to the Executive Committee or the recent AGM papers circulated, the episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands is planned to be transferred to the Salisbury Diocese. This decision which was approved by both Houses of Parliament in July 2020. There is still ongoing work to complete this process which is expected to be completed in 2021. 

In discussion with the Master of the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers we both felt it was important to understand the wishes of the Channel Island District members, as to whether they wanted to remain in the W&P or to move with their churches to the SDG.

Over the summer there has been much discussion in the Channel Islands District and a vote of all district members returned a 65% wish to move to the Salisbury Guild. The W&P and SDG will be working over the c oming months to agree the final date and what needs to be put in place for a clean transfer.

This will be a sad day for the W&P, having enjoyed many years of association with the Channel Islands. We have made many friends in the ringing community through close association, and I am sure that we will continue to enjoy ringing together in the future after the move. 

We will keep you up to date as things progress and perhaps – COVID allowing – we can mark the transfer in due course with a decent bit of real ringing!

Hoping you all stay safe and well, 

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

Registration for the AGM is Now Open!

Registration for the AGM being held via a Zoom Webinar on Saturday 26th September at 3pm is now open! You must register in advance if you wish to attend the AGM.

The registration link will be available from your District or Tower Secretary. It is also available on the Guild Facebook site and Twitter and has been distributed to the win-port email group.

Instructions on how to register are available here.

Once your registration is approved you will receive further instructions on how to join the webinar and guidelines on how to participate in the meeting.

If anyone has apologies for absence, items of Any other business, or comments or questions on any Agenda item, please send them to Tony Smith in advance so that the meeting can run as smoothly as possible.

President’s Blog #17

We have a few ‘Situations Vacant’ coming up which will give more people the opportunity to help with the Council’s work. Some of these will be announced after the forthcoming AGM but for now we are looking at establishing an ‘Events Management’ team, which can take care of organising ringing events. This is actually going to be a joint appointment with ART, as the two organisations have some similar events and would benefit from co-ordination. We are looking for people to be in a small team that will develop this expertise and work with local organisers on such events. So if organising things is your bag, please let us know.

The Dove database is one very tangible area of progress at the moment. The transfer to a new software platform has hugely increased the potential power of Dove and the next stage is transferring in all bell-level data. Dickon Love, on introducing the changes, was keen to recognise the contribution of the whole team – Richard Smith (technical development and bug fixing), Tim Jackson (checking transferred data and general counselling), John Baldwin (keeping the old system going and helping with transfer), Tim Pett and Doug Davis (testing).

We are working on a website that will enable ringers to ask questions about compositions, methods and conducting that they don’t understand and don’t know who to ask. The questions will be answered by a small group who are good at answering such questions in a clear unpatronizing way. Alex Byrne of Worcester is leading on it, and is starting off with a list of questions that Barbara Le Gallez sent me which includes such things as “Why does a composition come round / be true for some methods and not others (that are similar)?” and “48 Original Major: 5 5678s (2f,3b), 5 crus (2f,3b), 20 4-bell runs (8f,12b) – What mean these strange runes? Are they “old-fashioned” or “innovative”?” So if you have been spending lockdown pondering such things, help will soon be at hand!

Jack Pease completed the latest Facebook competition, which this time compared the ‘Finest Rings between 30 and 40 cwt’, with the word ‘finest’ being deliberately open to interpretation. Over 4500 votes cast! In a very tight contest, the crown was taken by Evesham, with Lichfield Cathedral close behind.

The Covid guidance pages on the Council website have been reorganised so that we can include a history of updates rather than just have the latest news at the top. It should work better on phones as well. We have submitted draft amended guidance to the CofE to try and reduce the separation to 1m plus mitigations, in line with guidance in other areas. And we are taking on board many comments received directly about how we can move further forward.

I actually did some method revision for the first time since March this Sunday. We rang a touch of 13 Spliced at St Martin’s Birmingham, where the first letter of each lead in order spelled out ‘COVID SELECTED’ (comp John Warboys). Conway, Ockley, Vale Royal, Ipswich, Dover… Having 16 bells enables such socially distanced performances. The conductor found  that calling spliced is slightly more difficult through a face covering especially when a change of method is interrupted by a mouthful of cotton.

A run through of the Central Council AGM on Zoom last weekend ironed out a few creases. The AGM is going to be streamed via YouTube for those who want to follow proceedings, although with the online format it is relatively light on business. The 2021 meeting will be in Nottingham as this one was supposed to have been.

On the agenda will be the 2021 Forward Plan, to which I am sure you are looking forward. While it could just be to actually do some ringing again and rediscover what it’s like to have a blister, it is going to tackle a few things that were proposals from the CRAG review which have not made it past first base. The big one is making progress on establishing some form of direct membership to a central ringing organisation. We spend many an idle hour looking at the structures of organisations like CAMRA (national membership, regional directors, local branches), the Croquet Association (individual, club and corporate memberships), the National Trust, RSCM, etc – organisations that manage to combine national membership with local activity. There will be a number of channels for consultation before Christmas which will hopefully cover anyone who can contribute to the debate.

One of the Brumdingers surprised me more than I think I have ever been surprised in a ringing context before. This is an 11 year old who has only been ringing a year and has not rung plain hunt on tower bells. But she has learned to ring handbells in lockdown and when on Abel the other day I asked her if she was ready to show me Grandsire Doubles on 3-4, which was the homework I had set, she said “can I ring Stedman Cinques?” Never one to stifle ambition, I suggested she at least reduced the peal speed to 3.30 to give her a fighting chance, after which she rang 11-12 to a bob course of Stedman Cinques very nicely (striking scores of 8.4 and 9.5). My flabber has never been so ghasted.

My daughter Charlie, knowing something of the ups and downs of this role at the moment, sometimes says “so Dad, has the list of people you might punch when you next see them gone up today?” So being positive, I have now started a new list! People for whom I will buy a pint, cup of tea, or piece of cake when I see them. Added to the list this week are the ringers of Skipton and Helmsley (they know why) and Andrew Howard, for his kind words in last week’s Ringing World. The CC has a new Treasurer warming up and I look forward to explaining the ‘President’s beer, tea and cake fund’. I am sure he will understand…

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content from https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/09/01/presidents-blog-17/ and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

2020 GUILD AGM PAPERS

Dear All,

Please find below links to the papers including Agenda, motions A, B and C, MoM 2019 and the usual reports for the forthcoming AGM on to be held online on 26th September at 3pm.

Also attached is an item concerning general information about how the online AGM will be conducted and how to register. You must register in order to take part in the online AGM. Registration will open on 12th September.

Regards,

Adrian Nash

Hon. Gen. Secretary

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers

AGM Papers

AGM Zoom Webinar Registration instructions (registration now open)

AGM Zoom Webinar Joining Instructions

Ringing for VJ Day at Petersfield

On Saturday 15th August after the two minutes silence to commemorate VJ day John Leary of the St Peter’s Church Bell Ringers Petersfield rang the number six bell seventy-five times to pay tribute to the remaining VJ Day Veterans and to remember the fallen one of whom was a Rev Victor Wardle former assistant Priest at Petersfield and a bell ringer. He died in an internment camp in Japan on 4th January 1945.

In January the Rev Wardle was also remembered by St Peter’s Bell Ringers ringing a quarter peal.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Caroline Welsh

Petersfield

President’s Blog #16

On balance now I wish I had continued with the piano not the cello. After Grade 5 on each, I made the choice and continued with the cello as I was better at it, it was more sociable, and I liked my cello teacher. I would now put up with being a less good pianist than cellist. The same is true of handbell ringing. I pretty much gave that up at the equivalent of about Grade 4 and then got so relatively better at tower bell ringing that I could never accept what had become a gulf in my level of competence between the two formats.

Lockdown has changed that, and not just for me. Handbell ringing is presenting opportunities. I think I might have scraped Grade 5 now! The time I might have spent learning methods for peals of spliced has been replaced mostly with Central Council work, but also with learning methods again on handbells, and learning how to view and ring those methods in a different way.

We don’t have ‘Grades’ in ringing like we do with learning musical instruments. It gets talked about every so often. ART’s Learn the Ropes scheme provides a good pathway although it does not have a measure of quality of performance – you cannot pass ART Level 5 with Distinction – you just Pass. It would be a challenge to be more judgemental, and ringers shy away from being judgemental (out loud anyway).

I have issued 11 Learn the Ropes handbell certificates this week, mostly Level 1 but some Level 2. In the St Martin’s Guild such certificates have been accepted with pride by very experienced tower bell ringers, and particularly by those whose tower bell ringing progress has taken backstage in favour or sending the elevator back down.

My spies tell me that ‘Virtual Bradfield’ last weekend was a great success, with at least 70 attendees. The organisers managed the usual mix of training, with handbell sessions, ask the tutor sessions, and finishing with both virtual pub and virtual cocoa sessions. Jonathan Cresshull was particularly given a shout out for technical wizardry.

I joined the Devizes Branch (sorry – now spotted duff spelling in RW copy) last Saturday evening for their practice on Ding (dinging.co.uk). A very different experience to Ringing Room, especially trying to ring with delayed action on the ropes, so you press the key to start the bell moving rather than the immediacy of pressing the key when you want the bell to strike. We did manage to ring a course of Stedman Doubles though (slowly), and they have rung two quarters on the platform now.

Distributed simulator ringing is a field of experimentation. The Dumbbell Society rang the first quarter peal on distributed dumbbells this week so they are making progress. It is a small group of experienced dumbbell ringers who have spent a long time getting to this point, but this could be interesting for the future.

The CC Covid guidance is not changing much from week to week at the moment, although every Friday evening I do update it. Last week I changed references to facemasks to face coverings and this week saw a clarification of separation between ropes in a straight line after a few queries. Changes don’t get announced – they will just appear here https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/

The most difficult questions I have to answer are to do with when ringing will return to normal, and my usual answer is to ask the questioner when they think life in general is going to return to normal. With infection rates rising now, schools re-opening and then winter coming, we will need to be patient. We do have our next meeting with the CofE Recovery Group this Friday and we have been garnering opinion via Facebook (by far the quickest way of getting opinions) on what would be most helpful.

Whenever we get back to ‘normal’ there will be new rings of bells to experience. The foundries and bell hangers seem to be busy. A new ring of bells was seen on the motorway heading to Stoke St Milborough, and Bridgwater has joined the ranks of the rings of 12 (remember when there were only 100!). And just as I am writing this I have discovered this list on the new Dove website – all known current projects! https://dove.cccbr.org.uk/projects.php

The papers for the Council Annual Meeting have been distributed and registration is open. The Zoom meeting is going to be a challenge, not least for the NAG members who have to get up at 4.30 their time. The Ringing World AGM is going to follow the CC meeting, as it always does. Then maybe we could try and have the largest online virtual pub session the ringing community has yet managed.

The 150th anniversary of the birth of William Pye was marked by an article in The Ringing World by John Loveless. Complete with a photo of Ernest, William and George looking like they had escaped from the set of Peaky Blinders. Bill Pye’s achievements were inspirational – I accompanied Alan Regin on many trips to find the graves of Bill Pye’s peal band, including the first trip to find Bertram Prewett’s war grave in France. Apparently Bill Pye set up a peal of Cambridge Maximus in the last lead because of a bad error – I like to think I have some standards but I’d try and get to the end once I’d got to the last lead!

The Ringing World has adapted well to not having pages and pages of peals and quarter peals. Ringers with time on their hands are writing those articles they never got round to writing. Spare a thought for Editor Will Bosworth, and his assistant Chris Teasdale (in charge of the pencil this week) – it must be very hard work at the moment dealing with so much more editorial content, and having to put up with regular contributors who file their copy in the small hours of the morning before the print deadline….

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

First Ringing at St Peter’s Church Petersfield Since Lock Down – 2 August 2020

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.  

Guild AGM – Saturday 26th September 2020

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.

Adrian Nash

Hon. Gen. Secretary

Winchester and Portsmouth Guild of Bell Ringers

Ringing Activities during Lockdown and beyond…

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.

Gary

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

Pete Jordan

Hursley

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.

Peter Hill

Winchester Cathedral

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.

Bruce Purvis

If any other 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.

Thanks

Andrew Glover

W&P Webmaster

President’s Blog #15

There were a couple of salutary lessons this week on what the future may bring. St Margaret’s Westminster, home of a ring of 10, closed for public services forever on economic grounds with the congregation ‘moved’ to the Abbey next door. And then, of indirect significance, Sheffield Cathedral announced the disbanding of its choir, to start again from scratch with a ‘fresh vision’. We also heard of a couple of towers where bands will not ring again, one because there are no longer going to be services and another because its members are too old to return. We may need to start thinking about a future that could be very different.

The wearing of facemasks, which had previously been “strongly advised” in the Church of England, becomes mandatory in England from Sunday. While this is possibly the final straw for some people (“I am not going to go and ring for 15 minutes and wear a ****** mask”), there are plenty of people who do want to ring, including those newer to bellringing. My kids group, the Brumdingers, will ring for the first time next Sunday and the excitement levels have gone off the Richter scale.

The passing of Dennis Brock was announced shortly after my last blog was posted and he has been widely mourned. Dennis was well known as the oldest active bellringer, having been a loyal member of the band at Sunbury since the age of 11. His ringing for his 100th birthday was covered by national media.

The presentation of the Westley Awards for Church Bell Maintenance went ahead last week, hosted by SMWG. The award is for someone who has become involved in belfry maintenance within the last five years, and shows the most commitment to developing and using their own skills and those of others. Seven of the eight nominations were under 25, with a couple looking after bells whilst at university. The winner was Sue McClaughry from Calstock in Truro who has quickly gone from being a new ringer, to a new tower captain, to getting involved in bell maintenance because no one else was able to do, to leading a local rehanging project. She is now a Truro DG bell adviser advising other towers and PCCs. My daughter will add you to her list of inspiring women!

ART has published nearly 50 bell maintenance videos on YouTube, which have been edited and filmed in the last three weeks. They can be found in the ART Online Learning Channel. Like it or not, YouTube is where people go for instruction manuals these days. I have lost the instruction manual for my car six months after buying it but solved the problem of turning off the G-force meter by asking a passenger with YouTube on their phone. Trial and error was only making matters worse.

A late flurry of entries for the July YouTube competition took the number of candidates for “Best ringing on eight or more bells” to 21. Birmingham submitted a few pieces as the closing bell creaked into action, and the Devon call change ringers are once again strutting their stuff. The playlist can be found on the CC website. The judges this month are Wendy and Graham Bloom from Leeds. When I was a young ringer at Cannock, Wendy (then a Smith (always a Smith?)) was a member of the indomitable Lichfield Cathedral band that won our local 6 bell striking contest every year. That band was one of my early inspirations.

Laura Goodin’s “Ringing Room Take-Hold Lounge” has signed up it’s 600th member. The Facebook group acts as a melting pot for those wanting to ring together on Ringingroom. Last week Ringingroom had 3700 unique users, 85% of them from the UK. Many of the rest are from the US, Ireland, and Australia, though there is representation from several other countries as well. If you are looking for the quieter times, avoid Monday-Wednesday evenings, UK time, and Saturday late morning. There is no hour of the day where there isn’t at least someone on Ringing Room.

The use of simulators has come on leaps and bounds in lockdown. Has anyone considered whether it would be possible to deliver a ringing experience in a VR Headset? Does anyone have the knowledge or skills to say how difficult it would be or what it would cost to develop? It would really crack the peripheral vision aspects of ropesight on simulators.

Situations vacant. We are looking for someone with experience in venue or events management/promotion to get involved in a specific project. Contact me and I will let you know what it’s about – it’s a bit Secret Squirrel at the moment.

Westbury saw off a strong challenge from Ebbw Vale in the Facebook contest for best heavy eight. Jewry and Chewton Mendip (my favourites) fell at the semi-final stage. As with previous contests this one has stimulated much debate and banter. Patrick Deakin has now handed over organisation of the contests to Jack Pease, who has wasted no time in launching “Finest rings between 30 and 40cwt”. It’s worth subscribing to ‘Bellringers’ Facebook group just for this.

Mike Shelley talked again in the Ringing World about the Central Council not representing one and two bell towers and practitioners of chiming. I did raise this at the Council Executive meeting last Sunday because I thought it was a question worthy of some consideration. The Council’s member associations focus by and large on four bell towers and above – sometimes threes if they have a band. But not ones and twos, even if hung for ringing. Is there still a ‘Three and Four Bell Society’? Do enough people care about ringing on less than three to form a separate interest group and even society?

And finally, I am going to ring a church bell this Sunday for the first time in five months. I had a 15 minute workout on the bells in Phil Gay’s garage last Sunday (including mask) so I am all set.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Content and logo used with permission from Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

President’s Blog #14

Posted from the Trent & Mersey Canal, Middlewich. We listened out for the sound of bells on Sunday whilst chugging through the Cheshire countryside but there still aren’t too many towers that have restarted. Those that have reported happy clergy, happy congregations, and ringers who are making the most of current restrictions.

Southwark Cathedral once again hit the national media after CC PRO Vicki Chapman did an interview with the Guardian on returning to ringing. The story managed to come across very positively, and the Sunday ringing at Southwark met all the guidelines. Southwark made use of household pairs to ring some adjacent bells, and maybe the odd straight line, which 12 bell towers have more chance of than smaller rings.

What is the most bells any tower has managed to ring by having a single family or household? Smethwick (pictured) has a family of five – does any tower beat that? Asking a similar question about family handbell peals brought up the ten Bailey brothers of Leiston in Suffolk. Among their many ringing exploits was a peal of Stedman Cinques in hand which was first peal of Stedman Cinques for all of them. Not just first in hand – first Stedman Cinques at all!

Gareth Davies, a member of the Historical & Archive Workgroup, delivered a lecture on the Churches Conservation Trust’s YouTube Channel. He managed to cram the entire history of bell ringing into 45 minutes, with fascinating facts interspersed with dry humour (“the lack of bells in Salisbury Cathedral deprives visiting Russian tourists of another thing to see”).

The June YouTube competition, aka ‘Robot Wars’, saw Tim the Robot emerge victorious. Rising stars Rosie and Ritchie Robot had their hopes dashed by this usurper who turned out not even to be a real robot. To add insult to injury, Rosie now has rust issues from the tears streaming down her face. Look what you’ve done Tim!

This month’s subject is best striking on eight bells or more, an area where there is far less material already on YouTube. No doubt the Pipes will be producing another piece but where on earth are David, Henry and Alfie going to find another ringer? Time to unleash the Pipe secret weapon…

Do you remember your first Dove? Mine was the orange one. I underlined my towers, and put codes next to each tower. I cannot remember now whether FR (Fairly Reasonable) was better or worse than RF (Reasonably Fair). Now I am 70 times more likely to use online Dove than the book, and as I write this I see it is a Red Letter Day – the code for the new Dove database has been released. That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s an important part of Dove’s development pathway to create a much more powerful tower data platform. Sorry Dickon – epic failure to make that sound as exciting as it should be.

A few weeks ago we ran a request for new blood in the Stewardship & Management Workgroup and I am pleased to say it bore fruit. Five additional team members – Chris Birkby (maintenance, fundraising), Nick Wilkins (a surveyor, currently running an augmentation project at Farnborough), John Beresford (structural engineer with particular historic buildings speciality), Keith Brown (lawyer), and Simon Plows (bell projects, ART hub). The breadth of subjects upon which SMWG can advise is growing.

One recent request for advice had the team searching for Intellectual Property expertise. An association had used an image from another website that turned out to be copyrighted, leading to a substantial claim from the image rights holder. Detailed guidance will be issued but suffice it to say, be very careful when using pictures whose provenance you do not know – a letter from an image rights protection company will be a very nasty surprise for any association treasurer.

Introducing bellringing into schools is a key challenge of the new Schools and Youth Groups Workgroup. An early output of this, albeit one which Jason Hughes has been working on for many years, is a suite of eleven lessons about bellringing for Year 5 pupils (9–10-year-olds) (see RW 10 Jul p.684–7). This has been designed in such a way as to be able to be delivered by a non-ringing teacher (a crucial feature) and has been delivered in a school trial with great success. What makes it particularly attractive to schools is that it links directly to the National Curriculum for England, putting aspects of bellringing into each subject. Jason freely admits the lesson plans need a final polish to make them production quality but this has great potential. If you are in a position to introduce this into a school, let me know and I can introduce you to Jason or Colin Newman.

The stakes have been well and truly raised in the “Best Guild Newsletter” competition. Robert Wellen sent me a link to the latest edition of Face to Face, the newsletter of the Salisbury DG, and it is an incredible piece of work.

The Mobile Belfry 2.0 project is moving on apace. With the design pretty much finalised, a funding bid has gone in for one of the £50k grants from Ecclesiastical, under the project name ‘Resound’ – big shout out to Roger Booth who has led on the bid document. The Loughborough Belfoundry Trust is emerging as a potentially very useful partner in the endeavour. With another sizeable donation coming in, details of which I will be able to reveal soon, there is a very good chance of the first of these new Mobile Belfries to be ready in the spring.

Julia Cater gave a presentation via the St Martin’s Guild that broke the Guild’s Zoom attendance limit. Her subject was techniques for ringing big bells – clearly of very wide interest. If you missed it, a recording can be found here. I shouldn’t think many people have heard of the importance of core strength in ringing context before, or been advised to ‘engage their lats’. Charlie Linford announced afterwards that she was now more interested in ringing heavy bells than conducting.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

2020 Striking Competitions cancelled

Hello Everyone.

Regrettably, and as I am sure you will understand, due to the covid-19 situation we will have to CANCEL all Guild striking competitions for 2020.

Apologies to those who were keen and eager to come along for a great mornings fun. Lets hope that next year we can take up the challenge again with renewed vigour!

Pete Jordan

Convener – Striking Competition Committee. 

Latest update from CCCBR on CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Updated 14th August

Content reproduced from https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/ with permission.

Last Updated 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.

Standing guidance: 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. Church of Scotland guidance does not specifically mention bells or bellringing on their COVID pages. In Scottish government guidance the social distancing guidance is 2m without any 1m+ concessions.  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. It is important to work with incumbents and church authorities for your own tower. Ringing remains at the express permission of the incumbent. Note that there is a specific requirement in the Church of England guidance document that ringers have read this guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment. 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 president@cccbr.org.uk – it will get looked at as soon as possible. 

Guidance Notes

  1. What are we worried about? (PDF)
    Recommended background reading for all
  2. Making your tower as safe as possible (PDF)
    Suggested for Tower captains and steeplekeepers
  3. Checklist for recommencing ringing (PDF)
    Summary for steeplekeepers but see also detailed document from SMWG below
  1. Running safe ringing sessions (PDF)
    Guidance for Tower Captains and Ringing Masters
  2. Can I go ringing safely? (PDF)
    Considerations for individual ringers
  3. How bell ringers are assessing risk (PDF)
    To be given to incumbents to explain how we are making our ringing safe

Click here to download the complete set of guidance documents as a single PDF. These documents are intended to be succinct and easily readable. They do not contain all the detail that could be put in them but instead focus on the key issues. A more detailed group of documents has been produced by the Stewardship & Management Workgroup and can be downloaded here.

  1. Ringing risk assessment post Covid 9 July 2020
  2. Tower and bells risk assessment after non use 15 June 2020
  3. Tower Safety and Risk Assessment 15 June 2020
  4. Risk assessment template (based on HSE)

Additional Guidance

  • 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.

Additional Information

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.

Ringing and COVID-19: What are the risks and what might we do about them?

Useful Links

The latest guidance from the Church of England is available on their website.

The latest guidance from the Church in Wales is available on their website.

The latest guidance from the Scottish Episcopal Church is available on their website.

The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.

PRESIDENT’S BLOG #13

Last Friday was definitely a low point. There was much swearing in Moseley, Worcester and Wrotham when an ever-so-polite email dropped in from the Church of England Recovery Group asking us not to ring that Sunday after all. Then my computer crashed just to add to the misery. The next morning, we had a call with Mark and Brendan but it was clear that they wanted us to change our guidance and wait a bit longer.

I am not sure what percentage of churches did actually hold services in England on Super Sunday. There weren’t many in my home Diocese of Birmingham and I have heard of some particularly rural areas where there is no sign of churches opening for some time. Across the world the picture varies – ANZAB reporting 20 out of 64 towers open again, while in North America I understand a little ringing has happened at Orleans, Honolulu and Kent School. The Channel Islands and Isle of Man are relishing their Coronavirus-free isolation!

The prospect of ringing three for services caused Ann Davies to recall the words of the Serbian Orthodox priest in charge of the ring of three at Bournville in Birmingham (pictured) when three ringers (suspects include Messrs Pickford and Jones) asked if they could have ‘a little tinkle’. The custodian of the ultra-ungettable tower said “we ring for ze purpose and not for ze tinkle!!”

As work starts on the next stage of guidance it is difficult to see how things are going to change materially without infection levels dropping. However there are lots of factors to consider, including that not all ringing environments are the same. We’re also getting a group together representing prolific peal organisers to pool our thoughts on when and how we can move towards ringing’s longer form.

Now to some good news. The Churches Conservation Trust has launched its ‘Champing’ offer – 20% discount for ringers booking before 31st July (use the discount code BELLS20). Champing is like glamping but kipping down inside one of their churches for a slightly surreal night’s sleep. Note that most of these churches do not come with showers so those booking for more than a few days will be thanked for not going within 2m of anyone else. Team Linford has booked to stay in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Warminghurst so we can visit Charlie’s adopted sloth, Flash, at Drusillas Wildlife Park.

If you are looking for more YouTube viewing after watching all 40 entries in the June YouTube competition, Steve Farmer has put together a superb series of videos on how to use a simulator. Search YouTube for “Practical Simulator Sessions” and you will find these, excellently produced in his garage (which to be honest needs a good lockdown clearout…)

Chris Ridley has been confirmed as the new leader of the Historical & Archive Workgroup. Chris has had a long association with the Council Library and other initiatives and is looking forward to developing this Workgroup so that our history and archives are able to inform and support other areas of the Council’s work. For instance, it has already been shown that the study of genealogy can get descendants of ringers wanting to learn and follow in ancestors’ footsteps.

The first peal on Ringing Room has been rung. Is it surprising that it has taken so long, or that it has been done at all? I cannot say too much as I was in it, and this is not a forum for me to blow my own trumpet. Oh go on, maybe just a bit –  Parp parp!

We have launched a consultation on ‘Registered Smaller Societies’ which is a proposed change to the Council Rules to enable bell ringing societies that don’t have the 75 members needed for full affiliation, but which want to be part of the Council. Not all ringers and ringing are covered by territorial societies, and to be truly representative the Council should embrace smaller emerging groups. More details can be found in the Governance section of the website.

Booking some more holidays. Sign of the times that when we would have been heading off to the Far East for a tour of Vietnam and Thailand, we have booked a boat on the Llangollen Canal and made sure that it has three decent handbell chairs. Twin holiday focus of Latin vocab and Kent Minor.

Matt Lawrence from Lilleshall has joined V&L and taken on a “Recruitment and Retention” brief. Matt masterminded the R&R workshop at the ART Conference on behalf of V&L. There is also a new Facebook group called Bell Ringing Recruitment and Retention – some people have actually managed to recruit people into ringing via Ringing Room and will be looking forward to converting them into tower bell ringers. Just shows what’s possible if you try.

The second of my three favourite ringing days of the year didn’t happen, following on from the 12 bell final. The RWNYC would have seen hundreds of young ringers gather in York for this annual festival of youthful skill and coloured team shirts but alas we will need to wait another year.

Patrick Deakin has started the latest of his Facebook competitions where people vote for their favourite ring of bells in a particular category, starting off with 32 and deciding each round on a knockout basis. Following victories for York Minster in the Heavyweight 12 bout, and Inveraray in the Cruiserweight 10 bout, he is now pitching ton-plus eights against each other in the Super Middleweight category. Will it be one of the Somerset classics (i.e Chewton Mendip) or a young pretender? Watch the drama unfold over coming weeks.

Finally some sad news. The Black Bull at Frosterley, home to a ring of 12 with a tenor of 0-2-21 by Matthew Higby, has closed permanently. Hopefully a new home will be found for the bells, on which seven peals have been rung (but not one by me so I am still keen).

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

***UPDATED 4th JULY*** – Latest CCCBR Guidance on Coronavirus and Returning to Ringing

We had a further update from the Church of England Recovery Group last night that Public Health England (PHE) now wants to issue specific guidance about bell ringing but they will not be able to publish it until next week. They expect it to be based on what we have produced. Although the Church has published guidance, which we shared, they are understandably nervous about ringing this weekend in advance of PHE publication, especially if it gets into the press. 

We had a conference call with Brendan McCarthy and Mark Betson of the Recovery Group this morning and whilst they stressed that anything published is guidance not instruction, they would really appreciate us waiting to restart ringing until after the PHE guidance is published. Given this is a new relationship that could be very important to us, we do not want to rock this boat for the sake of a week and some disappointment.

In the meantime, we have accumulated all of the questions we have received from ringers on the current guidance into a set of FAQs which we have publish on the website. This will include such things as why the guidance is still 2m rather than 1m, and whether family members can ring on adjacent bells. That can be found here:

https://cccbr.org.uk/frequently-asked-questions-on-covid-19-guidance/

We are studying the Scottish, Welsh and Irish guidance but in all cases church opening appears to be on a slower timetable than the Church of England. 

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

________________________________________________________________________

The Church of England, working with UK Government, has permitted bells to be rung in its churches from 4th July, accompanying the opening of cathedral and church buildings to the public. It is on the condition that ringing is in accordance with the guidance on these pages. The full announcement can be found here, and the reference to bells is on page 9. The Central Council will continue to pursue a similar situation for other jurisdictions in which there are bells. These pages give all current and previous guidance (to the extent it has not been superceded). We appreciate not all jurisdictions are the same, even within the United Kingdom.  The guidance on these pages was agreed following a meeting held between representatives of the Council and Mark Betson, convenor of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, and Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s Adviser for Medical Ethics, Health, and Social Care Policy. The set of Guidance Notes published has been endorsed by them and forms the basis for the resumption of ringing. The pace of returning to ringing will disappoint many bell ringers who are missing the activity that is so much part of our lives. The Church is also missing the contribution that bell ringers make and wants ringing to resume. The Church is however very sensitive to the safety of its volunteers and the relaxation of restrictions will not necessarily be as rapid as it is in certain other settings where other factors are under consideration. This is not a return to ringing all our bells as we were used to, or to do anything other than service ringing. It is the start of the road back to normality. Not all churches will be opening for services on 4th July. It is important to work with incumbents and church authorities for your own tower. Ringing remains at the express permission of the incumbent. Note that there is a specific requirement in the Church of England guidance document that ringers have read this guidance and undertaken the ringing risk assessment. We have also included in these guidance notes for checking bell installations prior to ringing. Please see our checklist below for some key areas that may need addressing. The Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that for jobs that cannot safely be done by one person, two or three should enter the bell tower to undertake them, following social distancing guidance if they are not from the same household. This guidance will be reviewed at least monthly, or inline with any changes in the Church’s own guidance and policies. which can be found at the bottom of the page. For instance the effectiveness of wearing face masks is currently under review and may be recommended.

Guidance Notes

  1. What are we worried about? (PDF)
    Recommended background reading for all
  2. Making your tower as safe as possible (PDF)
    Suggested for Tower captains and steeplekeepers
  3. Checklist for recommencing ringing (PDF)
    Summary for steeplekeepers but see also detailed document from SMWG below
  1. Running safe ringing sessions (PDF)
    Guidance for Tower Captains and Ringing Masters
  2. Can I go ringing safely? (PDF)
    Considerations for individual ringers
  3. How bell ringers are assessing risk (PDF)
    To be given to incumbents to explain how we are making our ringing safe

Click here to download the complete set of guidance documents as a single PDF.

These documents are intended to be succinct and easily readable. They do not contain all the detail that could be put in them but instead focus on the key issues. A more detailed group of documents has been produced by the Stewardship & Management Workgroup and can be downloaded here.

  1. Ringing risk assessment post Covid 15 June 2020
  2. Tower and bells risk assessment after non use 15 June 2020
  3. Tower Safety and Risk Assessment 15 June 2020
  4. Risk assessment template (based on HSE)

Additional Information

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.

Message from the Guild Master on the Latest CCCBR Guidance

Dear Friends,

I am sure you have been keenly following the latest CCCBR guidance about returning to ringing and how they have been working with the CofE on establishing safe working practices to do so.

The CofE have now released their latest update here.

This generally approves limited return to ringing from the 4th July SUBJECT TO APPROVAL FROM YOUR LOCAL INCUMBENT, following a risk assessment, and in line with the detailed guidance available on the Central Council’s website. In essence, any approved ringing has to be in sessions of a maximum of 15 minutes, only once in 72 hours, and by bands of ringers who stay on the same bells, two metres apart”.

Links to the C of E and CCCBR statements can also be found on the Guild website

You should read carefully the guidelines and advice from both the CofE and the CCGBR and stay within the guidelines for the safety of yourself and those in your band.

After 100 plus days of lockdown I feel that this gives us a hopeful glimpse of a way forward, however the 2 metre distancing is still a significant limitation even in the largest of towers. It is probably worth however, starting discussions with your incumbent to at least set the wheels in motion for a return to ringing hopefully in the not too distant future.

We hope that most towers should not have any problems undertaking the belfry risk assessment, however if you are unable to carry this out, please contact Martin Barnes (Belfry Stewardship Committee), who will coordinate with someone local to support you.

With best wishes to you all.

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers

Guild Database Project Team

A small project team was set up as part of the Guild Action Plan, reviewed at the 2019 AGM, to look again at creating a Guild Membership Database. Previous attempts had proved too costly, so a cheaper, simpler solution was required. There was also a requirement for the Guild to be GDPR compliant.

The project team members are:

  • Master – Pete Jordan
  • Vice-Master – Allan Yalden
  • Hon General Secretary – Adrian Nash
  • Safeguarding Officer – John Davey
  • Mike Winterbourne (as Immediate Past Master)
  • Andrew Glover (for the Guild Communications Team)
  • Roger and Cathy Booth (for IT support)

Objectives of the project

  1. To set up a mechanism to reach a greater proportion of the membership than existing social media (The Guild Facebook page has 299 subscribers, but a significant number live outside the Guild. Win-Port has 213 members). The Guild has almost 1,500 members.
  2. There will be a membership database hosted on Google forms/sheets covering all members. Once added to the membership database, members will receive an invite to join a separate communications database, hosted on Mailchimp.
  3. To avoid communications messages becoming ‘junk mail’, those on the communications database will opt in only to receive relevant correspondence, which will be filtered by a predetermined list of ‘interests’.
  4. Create a Communications database on Mailchimp allowing members to sign up to receive communications of interest to them and also allow them to unsubscribe to any areas not of interest.

GDPR regulations came into effect in May 2018 so we are long overdue obtaining the consent of all of our members to hold personal data such as names, addresses, email address and phone numbers published in the Guild Annual Report or on the Guild website, or held by Guild and District officers.

The first part was to obtain approval from the Guild Executive for the project, and to adopt a GDPR compliant Privacy Policy. This was approved in November 2019.

The second part was the introduction of the online Guild Membership Database consent form to replace a previous paper version. This is being rolled out.

Further stages will include the establishment of a communications database for members to opt into, and working with Districts to enhance direct communication with members and make the collection of subscriptions and the production of the Annual Report easier and more accurate.

The project team can be contacted via comms@wpbells.org

Database icon attributed to Stockio.com

CCCBR Guidance on Returning to Service Ringing

The scene is set for a cautious return to ringing. It won’t be all the bells, it won’t be all the ringers, but it will be enough for ringing to be part of the resumption of church services and remind people which day is Sunday.

Returning to ringing is a subject dear to all our hearts. Simulators, Ringing Room and Zoom meetings are just not the same although we should applaud all those initiatives. On 12th June bellringing appeared in a list of activities which cannot take place in churches. That made us determined to find out who was advising government so that we could make our case. All the hard work being done on guidance and risk assessments is useless if the keys to the ringing room door have been taken away.

I am pleased to say we have now made a lot of progress. The people with the metaphorical keys to our ringing room doors are Mark Betson, convenor of the Church of England’s Recovery Group, and Brendan McCarthy, the Church’s Adviser for Medical Ethics, Health, and Social Care Policy. On Monday this week, Mark Regan, Phil Barnes and I had a Zoom call with them to position ringing in the church recovery plan. Note this is Church of England only initially. We intend to have similar discussions in Wales and Scotland and provide what support we can to those in other countries. Hopefully some of this guidance is useful anyway and can be adapted to local circumstances.

Our goal for the meeting was just to establish the Council as the trusted advisor to the CofE team and hence government on bell ringing. We had sent them our suite of six guidance notes, which have now been published on the Central Council website which they were very happy to approve.

Having not really considered bell ringing specifically before, they are 100% committed to making ringing part of the return of church activities. In the first instance though it must be just that. Our return will be about Sunday ringing as part of the church’s mission, not practice or self-indulgence, though they understood our longer-term desire and need to resume that as well. Mark Betson said it would be really good to get ringing going again, reminding everyone which day is Sunday, and letting the bells proclaim that the church is open. He wanted “a package of good news” to be launched together.

Brendan McCarthy was particularly cautious of any misinterpretation of the drop in the UK Government’s social distancing rule from 2m to 1m. He cited all the guidance coming to him that 2m was not sacrosanct, but that going from 2m to 1m represents a 10 fold increase in risk, and that he would remain cautious saying “Our first job is not to kill anyone.” Our return to ringing will therefore be cautious, socially distanced ringing, for a very limited period of 15 minutes, and only for services.

Mark and Brendan had meetings with Public Health England and UK Government that afternoon and this week. They promised to include ringing in the plans and coordinate with us. We advised that we would need a couple of weeks to get restarted, allowing for maintenance inspections, and they would clear such access with the Director of Cathedrals and Church Buildings. They were happy to link our Guidance Notes from the main Churchcare website where their primary Coronavirus guidance sits.

Ringing three or four bells for 15 minutes for a service is not what keeps most of us ringing. The novelty is going to wear off quite soon. It could be a long time before peals or even quarters are possible, and we won’t be able to do any teaching. However it is an essential part of the strategy for us getting ringing going again that the church values our contribution, and we have managed to get them to include us in their plans and see ringing as a positive that we want it to be. If we do not get bells ringing for Sunday service in this first phase of resumption then it will slow down later phases of opening up. It will reinforce the impression of us that some in the church have. 

We don’t know exactly which day this will be from yet, although some Dioceses have said they expect to have services after 4th July. We received specific confirmation that access to towers to check bell installations ready for ringing was approved, provided it is done safely by more than one person, socially distanced.

We therefore need to try and find ways of making this positive. Perhaps it is the opportunity to get ringing going in all those churches which rarely have their bells rung at all. It could be the start of something for those churches.

Finally I would like to thank all my colleagues on the Central Council Executive and Workgroups (SMWG in particular) who have worked very hard in the last couple of weeks (and Giles Blundell for a dose of inspiration).

The full guidance can be found here https://cccbr.org.uk/coronavirus/

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Published 25th June 2020

President’s Blog #12

Three months after most of us last rang tower bells there is a glimmer of hope. Bell ringing resumption, in a very limited way, is on the Church’s agenda alongside choirs and organs. Well done to Mark Regan for finding who it was in the Church of England who is advising government, and setting up a meeting with them yesterday morning. A separate report of this meeting will be published shortly, when the accompanying guidance notes have been checked by the Church (just in case they changed their mind today!)

Ringing for Grenfell highlighted how low down the pecking order of consultees ringers are when anything to do with ringing is considered. The Diocese of London announced that bells would ring for Grenfell on the same day that the Government published its guidance on opening churches confirmed that bellringing is still not a permitted activity. This is one of the reasons we are trying to raise the profile of ringing. We are firmly on the radar now and await developments.

The first of my three favourite ringing days of the year didn’t happen in fine style. I certainly benefitted from having at least 10 fewer pints. Matthew Tosh and his team’s wonderful “Not The Twelve Bell Live” helped compensate some of the 1,000 or so ringers who might otherwise have headed to Sheffield for the 12 Bell Final.

Virtual ringing continues to entertain and amuse. I laughed out loud at a comment in the Take-Hold Lounge when someone said they had an enquiry from someone who wanted to learn to ring and they were asked what timezone they were in! That must be the first time that has ever happened!

The custodian of the Lair of the Snow Tiger, Mark Davies (aka Embee Dee) put together a Zoom quarter peal of Stedman Triples with ringers in eight different countries. Is there no limit to how far boundaries can be pushed? “We choose to ring Stedman Triples in Ringing Room not because it is easy but because it is hard.”

Don Morrison has provided a US server for Graham John’s Handbell Stadium. How long before the rather disconcerting “Men in Black” avatars are replaced by people of your choice? Or maybe toy characters! I would so like to ring handbells with a band of muppets.

There is a question of whether any of these ringing tools that have emerged in lockdown will survive and become ongoing support for ringers. Richard Johnston has founded ‘The Dumbbell Society’ and is organising practices for people with dumbbells linked together via Abel and a dose of magic. They have already managed to ring Bob Doubles on distributed simulators, and this is potentially very interesting.

The Council’s Strategic Priorities have now been published on the website, having been serialised in The Ringing World. These were developed at the start of the year and are guiding Council Workgroup activities. They can be found here

Julia Cater’s working party looking at gender imbalance in ringing is well into the data gathering and research phase. Her team of seven will be publishing a website shortly and via that will be asking people with stories to tell to get in touch.

Bryn Reinstadler has kindly agreed to develop a new multi media publication on learning to call and conduct. She is going to focus particularly on making sure it doesn’t matter where in the circle you call from, to try and get us away from feeling that you have to ring a back bell to conduct.

I am delighted that we are continuing to get new people to work on the Council’s initiatives. The latest recruit is Paul Mounsey, who has agreed to represent the College Youths in the Council’s initiative that no ringer should meet a barrier to their own progression (Strategic Priority 2). The officers of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths have also agreed to support this in principle.

By the time you read this in The Ringing World a new leader of the Historical & Archive Workgroup will be in place, taking over the reins from Doug Hird. Historical & Archive covers a range of activities from the Library to the Carter Ringing Machine. Next month, workgroup member Gareth Davies will be doing a star turn on the Churches Conservation Trust webinar series – his lecture ‘The Ringing Isle’ is on 16th July.

Would your project benefit from £1,000? Ecclesiastical Insurance runs regular awards programmes under which they give £1,000 to whichever causes have received the most nominations. A bit like choosing your favourite charity at a supermarket checkout. Does anyone else always just put it in the tub with the least tokens to even it up? (When I first went to ringers’ teas I used to have pieces of the least popular cakes because I didn’t want anyone to think their cake was unpopular. Does anyone else do that?) The Central Council managed to win one in 2017 and the Peterborough DG has also benefited. It just needs some coordination. Rather than apply again, we thought it would be better to bring it to others’ attention and see if anyone can suggest a project we can all support.

David Smith and Tim Hine in the V&L group have recruited Nich Wilson to lead on Ringing Centre strategy co-ordinating with ART which has its network of ART Hubs. Nich emailed us out of the blue a couple of months ago and said he was interested in getting involved so it’s great to find him a project.

Ringing Around Devon, the quarterly newsletter of the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, was circulated and had an astonishing 18 pages of tightly pack material. And that’s in a period of no ringing! Maybe we should circulate more lockdown newsletters and share more experiences. I remember a long time ago there was a competition for the best newsletter. Tony Kench submitted the College Youths Newsletter, which was produced by him with great pride, only for it to be discounted on the grounds of being “too professional”. A great injustice at the time!

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell ringers – Lockdown Newsletter – June 2020

Ringing in Lockdown

This is the first of an occasional series of newsletters being sent out to inform members about what is happening with ringing during the easing of Lockdown and to help prepare for the resumption of regular ringing.

It is being sent to all tower correspondents and Guild and District Officers whose e-mail address is published in the Guild Annual Report, and those on our database. It is important that we reach as many members of our Guild as possible, so please do forward this e-mail on to the other members of your band.

Guild Membership Database

The Guild is developing an electronic membership database, so that we can comply with data protection regulations, as personal data such as members names is published in the Annual Report. We also wish to improve communications with our members, which is important, especially in the current circumstances. We now have an electronic sign up form. Please do give us your consent to hold your personal data by completing the following on-line form, and encourage members of your band to sign up as well.

Message from the Guild Master

The first couple of weeks after lockdown came to me as a bit of a shock, as I am sure it did to you. The impact of having to stay at home was somewhat restrictive but understandably tolerable. Being unable to ring, particularly on a Sunday was however a complete shock to the system having been part of the landscape of my life for the past 40 years. The realisation that I was not the only one impacted and the possible effects on everyone in the Guild hit me very soon after. What would you all do without your weekly ‘fix’ of ringing….

Now, 12 weeks or so into lockdown things seem a little brighter with the ringing community making great efforts to keep in touch with each other using social media, virtual tower pub nights and online practices. Talking to the district Chairs over the last couple of weeks there seems to be pockets of such activity in most parts of the Guild, but by no means everywhere. If you have not already done so and you feel able please reach out to your neighbouring towers to check that they are ok and to support them with our new virtual world if they need it.

With best wishes to you all.

Pete Jordan

Youth ringing

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.

Training webinars

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.

Lockdown resources

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers and Association of Ringing Teachers have put together a selection of links to ringing related videos, blogs, quizzes, podcasts and training webinars which will be of interest to members of your band. There’s a lot of material and it’s well worth a look! http://ringingteachers.org/resources/COVID19-ringing-support

Guild Annual General Meeting

The Guild AGM has been re-arranged for Saturday 26th September. Further details will be published in the next edition of this newsletter.

President’s Blog #11

So much has happened in the last two weeks that it is difficult to know where to start. Maybe with ringingroom appearing on BBC News – a great achievement led by CC PR Vicki Chapman, its creators Bryn and Leland, Anthony Matthews for being an eloquent ‘face to camera’ and the online participants. Mainstream media taking a genuine interest and helping to promote us.

Every now and again I post a question on Facebook and the email list which captures the imagination or the mood. Last Sunday it was a link to a list of quarter peal composers, which did not need studying for long to see that it was 99.9999% male. Ringing starts off with 50:50 male/female recruits, the Youth Contest looks about 50:50, university ringing is relatively balanced. But when you look at tower captains, conductors, composers, people asked to call a touch on a tower grab – the imbalance kicks in. If anyone doesn’t think that’s an issue, read some of the impassioned posts in that string, which hit 150 responses in a day (now 194, but wandering). There are even performances on ringingroom which have female ringers on the front bells! Julia Cater is leading a project to establish the scale of this subconscious bias and see what we can do about it. She is in the research phase and keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute.

Great ideas come to us from all quarters. Quilla Roth in Washington emailed me a spreadsheet of all the training webinars she had found, with a suggestion that we publish an index of them. With quick work from Web Editor Mark Elvers, and a ring around of the producers of all the pieces, we got the Index published within a week of Quilla’s email. There are so many good webinars now, and more being produced all the time. ART, Lewisham District, Cambridge District and the St Martin’s Guild are particularly active. One positive of lockdown at least. https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-index/

At the end of the Brumdingers practice each week we give a chocolate medal to whoever has made the greatest contribution to the practice that week. My virtual chocolate medal this week goes to Laura Goodin, for taking the initiative to organise the first of what may be many Plain Bob Doubles clinics on ringingroom. She recruited teachers, helpers and students via the Take-Hold Lounge, and from reading comments after they were great.

James Ramsbottom of the V&L Workgroup produced a guide to using ringingoom https://cccbr.org.uk/2020/06/07/ringing-room-a-users-guide/ All the online platforms are contributing to helping keep ringers together, and enabling some even to make progress.

Leaving most of this Blog until finishing a very interesting Zoom session with the Guild of Devonshire Ringers has left me facing a small hours finish. (I have promised Will copy by the time he wakes up tomorrow.) It was great to discuss the Strategic Priorities with them – fascinating to get their views for instance on the place of call changes in the overall mix. I am sure that we have to get a culture where ringing good rounds and call changes is a perfectly acceptable target. We are putting people off. One person on a Zoom I had with the South Walsham ringers last week said “if I could go back to my band post lockdown and say ‘all we need to do is ring call changes well’ they will love me forever.”

Call changes then had a major feature in last week’s Ringing World and the Accidental ringer blog covered the subject, following the discussion in virtual South Walsham. If you don’t follow the Accidental ringer it is always a good read and her blog on Strategic Priority 5 is here

https://dingdong887180022.wordpress.com/2020/06/03/strategic-priority-5-if-you-were-forced-to-choose/

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).

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

What has your tower or band been doing together since lockdown?

Many of us will have been missing our ringing since the lockdown began mid-March and still no idea when we can safely return to tower bell ringing.

So what have you all been up to since then?

Have you made use of video conferencing for video chats or used the online ringing platforms or perhaps even taken up new hobby? Or maybe you have just enjoyed the break!

We would love to know what you have been up to, so please let us know at wpbells@gmail.com and we will collate the replies. It would be really great to know what everyone has been doing and might encourage bands that have been fairly quiet to do something.

I know that Hursley have been meeting on Zoom 3 times a week! Peter Hill says “Sunday morning (11:00) is a general catch up – not much is happening tbh, and we sometimes have time for a short touch on Ringing Room. Tuesday has turned into quiz night – quite a jolly affair usually – even if Chris Hill seems to win most of the rounds. Friday night has a greater focus on ringing – touches of Cambridge Minor and Grandsire Triples have come round, but we have seen only modest improvement in our ringing.

Very impressive Hursley! – can any other towers beat that?

Bellringing during lockdown on the BBC!

Following an international collaboration, it is hoped that BBC TV will air a segment in their main news bulletins on Saturday 30th May 2020 on bellringing during lockdown, including interviews and a feature on virtual ringing using Ringing Room.

At the moment the segment is scheduled to air on the main evening news bulletins which are 5.30pm & 10pm on BBC 1 subject to being overtaken by events but the editors are really keen on it so fingers crossed.

CCCBR Stewardship & Management Workgroup When We Ring Again

When we ring again

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. Something may have broken or become dislodged during the period since the tower was last visited and could now be in a dangerous state.
  4. 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!

Alison Hodge
Stewardship & Management Workgroup Lead
smlead@cccbr.org.uk

President’s Blog #10

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’!

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

CCCBR – 123rd Annual Meeting

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.

Meeting papers and other information can be found on the 2020 Annual Meeting page.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Inter Tower 6 and 8 bell striking competition

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.

Many Thanks

Pete Jordan

Master  – Winchester & Portsmouth Guild of Church Bell Ringers. 

Striking competition convener.

CCCBR President’s Blog #9

I used to play golf on a course where the 15th hole was tantalising close to the club house. I usually wanted to stop at that point – I was tired, I was probably approaching 100 shots, and had resorted to using the lake balls in the bottom of my bag. Basically 18 holes was too long.

If the concept of peals being 5000 changes had never been instigated, what length of ringing would we set for our upper target of performance? I asked this question online last weekend and it got some fascinating responses. Quite a lot of people suggested something around the 3000 changes or two hour mark – long enough to get sustained good striking, but short of the fatigue zone.

It wasn’t an original question. Albert York-Bramble raised it in The Ringing World in 1955, the same year he founded his ground-breaking, and short-lived, “College of Campanology”. He advocated 3000, although the reasons at the time were based on needing to prevent the general public opposing excessive noise from church bell towers in the days before sound control.

No one could claim excessive noise from a church bell tower at the moment! Coming up to nine weeks without ringing ☹. The primary outlet for releasing our ringing urges, ringingroom.com, is surging in popularity (an urge surge?). It passed 1000 users a day last week, and its developers, Bryn and Leland are working hard. I was surprised to be name-checked in a fascinating podcast interview with Leland which can be found (along with others) here. If you listen to it you will learn why the Brumdingers’ motto is now #embracethechaos …

It was of course particularly disappointing not to be able to mark VE Day with bells. That was such a good opportunity to provide a soundtrack to national celebration. I hope you heard the Funwithbells Podcast that was recorded specially for VE Day – it has 30 ringers telling the story of bells in the war, and is extremely interesting. I was pleased to be able to read a letter the President of the Council wrote to The Ringing World, apologising to the public that after five years of no ringing the ringers should be forgiven for being a bit rusty!

There are more and more people making progress on handbells who would not have done so without lockdown. Young ringers Toby Hibbert and Kate Jennings rang a quarter of Bob Minor in ringingroom.com within a month of taking up virtual handbell ringing, and the Read family in Jersey enabled Hannah and William to ring their first in hand (real bells) for Jersey’s Liberation Day.

Back in the virtual world, one of the young ringers I am teaching handbell ringing to explained “ringing two is easier than ringing one because if there’s a problem with the internet both your bells are late by the same amount.” Not sure I quite followed that but it was positive thinking from a 10 year old!

Graham John posted a wonderful photograph of stacks of motion controllers being mailed out to budding online handbell ringers. Unfortunately this is not going to last long because the controllers that work best are discontinued – the manufacturer must be intrigued by this late sales blip!

Rebecca Banner and her son Dan made a bellringing simulator game in Roblox, the online gaming platform. Apparently they are working on something much more complicated aimed at teaching non ringers to ring! Sounds like an entry for the ART Awards if that one comes off.

Who wants to know about insurance? Of course you do! Once a year SMWG hosts a meeting with Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most churches in which we ring. This year’s call was via Zoom, robbing me of a trip to Gloucester. We are fortunate that Marcus Booth at Ecclesiastical is a ringer, and he has now been joined by another ringer, Becca Meyer, as a graduate trainee (great minutes Becca!)

The launch of the YouTube competition exceeded expectations. I was actually a bit nervous about it but with a small team comprising Neal Dodge, Simon Edwards and Ros Martin, and various levels of risk assessment and management, we got it launched. Entries are starting to come in for the first category – Best Striking on 6 bells.

Talking of YouTube videos, the Council’s Comms & Marketing team rushed out a short video to explain why bells are silent, in response to a suggestion on Facebook.  If you have a route to a local church, parish or village/town website please can you try and get this posted there?

Roger Booth has released the first four (maybe five by now) of his video tutorials on using Abel. I watched the first two and was amazed how little of Abel’s capabilities I actually use. The first one can be found here.

In the same week that the Council’s Guidance note on ringing and COVID-19 was published, lots of ringers watched a live streaming of the funeral of Andrew Stubbs, a well-known ringer who made an enormous contribution to ringing across multiple fields. The coronavirus took Andrew from us, and ringing will be the poorer for it.

I am really enthused that we are continuing to attract ringers with skills and talent to help with key initiatives. One of the two latest to step up to the plate (another next time) is Dickon Love, who becomes a Dove Steward, bringing his immense energy for ringing to the role. In the words of the Dove team he will “be leading the project to migrate Dove onto new technology and will be seeking opportunities to make the Dove data more widely used and appreciated.” When I asked my daughter Charlie why she thought the database of towers was called Dove, she said “is it because a Dove can fly over towers and see where they all are?”

Cripes, I have had to bump seven things onto Blog #10 as I have hit my word limit.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers