Last Sunday – Remembrance Sunday – we were called to “look to” and take part in a most momentous commemoration. Being so intimately linked in to our local communities, it was no surprise that bellringers everywhere stepped forward to participate, collectively and individually, in such a solemn centenary.
And it is entirely right and fitting that bells gave voice to the deep and lasting emotions felt so widely at this time. So many today owe so much to our forebears for the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy one hundred years on. As bellringers, we are the “external choir” that calls out across time and space, giving tribute on this day for those who have gone before. This is what we do, this is our calling, this is our service.
On behalf of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, I wish to thank all who participated in this historic event. The Ringing Remembers campaign, promoted by the Central Council, has claimed some inspiring headlines – towers silent for many years have rung out once more; hundreds of bands have been augmented with new learners; tens of thousands of ringers mobilised to ring in thousands of towers – not just in the UK, but across the world; ringing featured strongly in local, national and international media; and the BellBoard website went into meltdown!
Our campaign sought to recruit 1400 new ringers, to symbolically replace those ringers who fell in the First World War. At the most recent count, new ringer registrations for the recruitment campaign totalled 2792 – close to 200% of the original target. The Council’s newly-stated mission is, among other things, “to promote an environment in which ringing can flourish”. Last Sunday we witnessed what “flourish” looks like – more of that please.
Whilst it is impossible to thank all key individuals by name, I would like to pay a special tribute to Vicki Chapman – Ringing Remembers Project Coordinator, Colin Chapman – Coordinator’s “roadie”, Alan Regin – Steward of the CCCBR Rolls of Honour, Andrew Hall – developer and administrator of the Ringing Remembers web platform, and Bruce & Eileen Butler – who linked thousands of enquirers to guilds, districts and towers. And there are so many others…
My thanks go also to all those who have come to ringing through this route – may you continue to develop in skill, and gain many happy years of fulfilment in your ringing. And to that widespread army of ringing teachers who have risen to the challenge of training so many enthusiastic learners – well done!
Last Sunday was a day of reflection, a day of commemoration, a day of participation. Bellringers everywhere were able to say – “I was there – I remembered”.