Tag Archives: Brownsea Island

When Two Hobbies Combine

Simon Edwards Reports:

2016 marks the centenary year of Cub Scouting, officially launched on 16th December 1916, after some three years’ worth of planning and trialling. The Wolf Cubs, as they were originally called, were themed around the Jungle Book, a theme that continues in the majority of Cub packs today.

But how does this link to bells? Well, as well as being a ringer, I am also a Cub Scout Leader in my spare time, going by the name of Shere Khan, and have often found that my two hobbies go hand in hand together; my first peal, back in 2007, was to mark the Centenary of Scouting, after which I vowed never to ring another. How wrong I was!

The idea of combining my two hobbies once again, first came to me some eighteen months ago, with the prospect of a peal just using Cubs and Cub Leaders past and present to celebrate the Centenary. The date was chosen as the closest feasible Saturday to December 16th, a band approached, a method and composition were sourced from Robert Brown – an expert in these matters! – and slowly but surely, the pieces all fell into place.

St Mary’s Church, Brownsea Island Photo by Simon Edwards
St Mary’s Church, Brownsea Island Photo by Simon Edwards

Given that this was a Scout-themed peal, it seemed only fitting that Brownsea Island was the place to do it. As well as housing a delightful little eight, with a ringing chamber more akin to somebody’s lounge, the Island is regarded as the spiritual home of Scouting; the experimental camp led by Baden-Powell was held there in 1907, and this ultimately led to the formation of Scouting. However, the Island is shut to the public in the winter months, and this brought other obstacles with it, the most prominent being a boat across to the Island (it was just a bit too far to swim!), and thanks indeed must go to Alison and Alan Butler for tackling these logistics and ensuring the bells and transport were available for us, as well as giving up their Saturday to travel to the Island with us (and take the all-important group photo!)

Brockenhurst St NicholasA Friday evening quarter peal at Brockenhurst settled the nerves, and ensured we knew what to do at the Special Single! With Giles and Kieran unavailable for this, we were joined by Jack and Jimmy, both one-time members of the movement themselves. Only one real hiccup occurred, when two bells tried to “run in”, but this was quickly recovered! Finally, we were set for “the big event!”

On the day, the eight of us met promptly on a grey, drizzly Poole harbourside with Alan and Alison for the ferry across. It occurred to us here that Cub Scouting from the 1960’s to present day (with the possible exception of the 1990’s) was covered in the band, accounting for half of the existence of Cubs! It also became quickly apparent that the mileage travelled to ring this peal was not inconsiderable; Swindon, Peterborough, Liverpool, Kent and Humberside were all represented, and lucky Kieran had to make twice the number of boat trips as the rest of us, setting off from the Isle of Wight at silly o’clock (wasn’t it 5:30am?) that morning!

I had joked that the hard work was now done, and this was the easy bit, but of course nothing is ever as simple as that, is it? A false start did nothing for the nerves, but, with a reshuffle and some gritting of teeth, off we went again. And that was it! Aside from a moth flitting around for the first half of the peal, causing a mild distraction, there were no further “scary” moments, bar the odd missed dodge, one of which prompted a “couldn’t get the staff” comment from Barry. Oops! And soon, all too soon, it was over, with big smiles all round and a year and a half’s thoughts and plans wrapped up and completed. Marvellous! Click for Peal Details

The band in order from left to right, with the bust of Scouting’s Founder, Robert Baden-Powell
The band in order from left to right, with the bust of Scouting’s Founder, Robert Baden-Powell

Overall, I am delighted with how this latest scheme of mine has panned out; a very worthwhile effort to mark an important milestone in what is quite possibly the most recognised youth group in the world. We are all very grateful to Alison and Alan Butler, who not only sorted out a ferry, the tower, and the numerous other logistics, but who also gave up their Saturday to travel to Brownsea and back with us. Thanks must also go to Robert Brown for his help with the method and composition, and to my fellow band members for joining me with this.

Now, all I need for the “set” is a peal for the Centenary of Beavers, in 2086… Anyone interested? ☺

Some footage of the peal can be found below, for interest/enjoyment: