President’s Blog July 2017

The UK summer heatwave seems to have come and gone.  Royal Ascot and Wimbledon are well behind us, and the British weather has turned distinctly autumnal.  Meanwhile, the work of Central Council rumbles on, and this month’s blog highlights a few of the important items currently on the radar.

Council Reform and Renewal

In late June I wrote to CC Officers, CC Committee Chairs and all CC Members inviting further feedback on the Council’s reform and renewal project.  This was followed up with a wider call for expressions of interest in taking on roles identified in the Council Review and Action Group (CRAG) Report.  At the May Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, the CRAG proposals were passed with an overwhelming majority.  I voiced my hope, at the time, that all those who voted in favour of the proposals would be stepping forward to assist in their implementation.  So I am saddened to note that my call for nominees has resulted in a whopping 19 names, from across the entire exercise.  Thanks a million.

The CRAG Report included recommended timelines for implementation, and so our next task will be a short selection process for appointing people to the proposed Executive, Workgroup Leads, and Workgroups – more news on this will be forthcoming soon.

Diocesan Advisory Committee Bell Advisers Conference

This annual event took place at Lincoln Cathedral on 29th and 30th June, under the sponsorship of the Church Buildings Council.  As well as bringing together DAC Bell Advisers, delegates included church architects, engineers, Diocesan Registrars, bellfounders and members of Central Council’s Towers & Belfries Committee.  The topic list ranged widely, covering elements of historical interest, metallurgy, faculty jurisdiction, architectural considerations and much more.  Will Bosworth of The Ringing World will be publishing a write-up of the conference in due course.

ChurchCare / Historic England liaison meeting

Another meeting of note took place on Tuesday 25th July.  The interests of CCCBR, ChurchCare and Historic England are often convergent, and this meeting takes place each year to discuss matters of mutual interest.  In recent years, there has been increased focus on the Church Buildings Review, particularly in relation to bells in closed or closing churches.  This is a topic that affects many ringers in many dioceses, and CCCBR is working hard to codify and simplify the current complex legalities surrounding church closure and implications for bells and ringing.

The meeting also discussed imminent changes to Heritage Lottery Fund grant schemes, which may make it harder to attract HLF funding for bell projects.  It is worth noting the excellent grant award scheme available from ChurchCare.  For bell projects, the next grant application deadline is 16th April 2018.  Details of the ChurchCare grants scheme can be found here:

Heritage Open Days 2017

Last year, bells and bellringing was selected as a headline heritage activity, and hundreds of ringing teams registered to participate in H.O.D. activities.  This year, Heritage Open Days runs from 7th to 10th September.  Although not a headline activity this time around, ringers are still encouraged to make use of this excellent PR opportunity.  Here is how to get involved:

Deadline for registration is Wednesday 1st August (this week!)

In conjunction with Heritage Open Days 2017, Ecclesiastical Insurance is running a campaign entitled “encircling the church”, and they too are encouraging open towers and ringing during the H.O.D. period.


By way of this blog, I would like to promote two recent publications.  One is an updated version of the “Bells in your care” leaflet.  This is written as an easy-to-read explanation of bells and ringing, designed for clergy, church wardens and PCC members.  Copies can be downloaded using this link, or by getting in touch with the Council’s PR Committee:

Another recent publication is from Graham Nabb, Chairman of the Association of Ringing Teachers.  He has recently produced a one-page poster promoting “Available from ART”, which highlights ART resources for teachers and ringers.  I attach his poster to this blog.


As I write, this last weekend in July contained many activities celebrating the many and varied enthusiasms of ringers.  On Saturday 29th, John Taylor & Co held an Open Day at their Loughborough Bellfoundry – a fascinating insight into the business of bell casting, tuning and the bellfoundry trade.

Also on Saturday, the Julie McDonnell StrikeBack Express travelled from Hastings to Bath and return, as a further fundraising “vehicle” (sorry) for this imaginative and enthusiastic blood cancer awareness campaign.

On Monday 31st July, many will be arranging ringing to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the First World War.

Yours in ringing,


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