President’s Christmas message 2017

“…Nor all the steeple-shaking bells can with this single truth compare… “ (with thanks to Sir John Betjeman)

Like so many of us, my ringing schedule throughout Advent and Christmas is full and festive.  Advent carols, Christingle services, midnight vigils and the like, added to the usual Sunday morning commitments, makes for a busy ringing diary.  Recent snowfalls, combined with holiday plans, can present challenges for attendance, but I’m happy to say that a dedicated core at our local tower, augmented by welcome visitors, means we make a joyful sound for every occasion that we’re needed.

As George Pipe fondly notes, bells and bellringers are the “external choir”, calling out to acknowledge the central place that our churches and towers hold for our communities.  At Christmas time this is especially true, exemplifying that ringers are uniquely “linked in” to life events around us, both sacred and secular.

I take this opportunity to give tribute to all ringers, willing volunteers, who give your time and skill selflessly week on week throughout the year.  Thank you!

Further – my thanks to all those involved in the work of Central Council – Officers, Committee members and Committee Chairs, Stewards and association representatives.  It’s been a busy year, and I’m grateful for all the work you do to support ringing.

Not all of our towers are able to ring for Christmas, sadly, and this is a situation that’s the subject of much debate and activity.  Bellringing has been described as an essential part of the “soundscape of the nation” (not forgetting our international ringing fraternity!)  Let’s not succumb to the sound of silence.  All of us, whether in our local towers, branch, guild and the Central Council, have a vested interest in preserving and augmenting our wonderful exercise.  What are we all doing about it?  Plenty!  Can we all do more?  Absolutely!

At the risk of repetition, I share my “New Year’s Resolutions” for 2018, which I hope we can all embrace:

  • To recruit and develop new learners and new leaders
  • To engage maturely with the Church and other relevant stakeholders
  • To continue to raise positive public awareness of ringing

As we reflect on the events, challenges and successes of the passing year, may all of us celebrate the wonder of the Christmas message, ringing out with joy to the world, looking forward with hope and optimism to the year ahead.

Christopher O’Mahony

President, The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

(PS – don’t mention the cricket!)