President’s Blog #7

I would be flattering myself if I thought anyone missed the arrival of my blog every other Saturday. One or two might have thought “ah I knew he wouldn’t be able to keep up a two-weekly blog”, and a few others who would have blamed t’interweb. Well actually ‘publication date’ has just moved so that arrival on social media, and publication in The Ringing World, are closer together.

When I was an eager young bell ringer, in the ‘Olden Days’ according to my daughter, The Ringing World hitting the doormat on a Thursday, folded into three and in a paper sleeve, was something I looked forward to. I still look forward to reading it of course, but I also have so many more sources of information, which differ in speed and quality (like peals).

A difficulty shared by all ringing organisation secretaries is how you get information to absolutely everyone who might find it interesting. I have to use four different communication channels just to get to 10 young Brumdingers! Although to be fair, one of those is voice. I don’t really know who doesn’t get this blog, and each fortnight I get a few new people saying “I have just seen your blog.” Please let me know if you haven’t read this.

Not having ringing on Easter Sunday was almost unprecedented. When ringing was stopped in the early war years was Easter Sunday an exception I wonder? We are still getting people asking whether they can ring just one bell or go as a family and not bump into anyone else, but not to put too fine a point on it, it would actually be against the law (in England anyway) – if going to ring doesn’t pass one of the four tests it should not happen. We have to wait for the official guidance to change.

Ringingroom.com has become a source of much focus. This virtual ringing platform, that looks and feels a bit like Abel but with different people on each bell, has been developed by Bryn Reinstadler and Leland Kusmer and has already got a lot of followers and performances vying for attention on Bellboard. A good introduction was published in last week’s Ringing World. It seems that each day I log into it there are different features enabled. I have used it so far to keep my young ringers group interested, to help teach a couple of people to ring plain hunt on handbells, and have enjoyed ringing more advanced handbells with isolated friends. As I write this I see Graham John has also released a platform for handbell ringers. I need to check that out.

Some Guilds and Associations are busier than ever trying to keep members and local ringers interested and motivated. Virtual pub sessions, training webinars, Zoom workshops, are all being deployed in the interests of maintaining our ringing activities. The Council and ART are developing a webinar series, and are testing content on smaller audiences. If your local association has lost touch with you, maybe encourage things yourself as there is much that can be done. Soon there will be webinars published on YouTube, including a series on using Abel.

Do you have your Amazon purchases going through Smile yet? Smile directs 0.5% of the net value of your purchases to the charity of your choice so it can be set up to direct funds to your local association (or the Council, which is already set up in Smile). My own Amazon purchases have sent £11 to the St Martins Guild so far – that might not seem a lot but multiply it by lots of members and it’s better than nothing. It’s free money. It needs your treasurer to register the charity with Amazon Smile.

When people criticise the Central Council it is often because they don’t think it does anything and operates from some ivory tower. I keep being surprised by how much has been going on in Workgroups behind the scenes. What often goes unreported is the work of the Stewardship and Management Workgroup (SMWG) that gives advice on all sorts of (particularly technical) aspects of ringing and ringing infrastructure to ringers and other stakeholders.

Hopefully you saw an appeal from SMWG for people to join this advice-giving group. There has been a great response to far – thank you to all the new volunteers. There is still room for more so please do look at the roles and consider getting involved – see https://cccbr.org.uk/nr4smw/. We hope this will also give the group the opportunity to be proactive as well as reactive, developing courses, videos, webinars, etc. This is a time to plan!

What we wouldn’t give a top social media influencer to take an interest in bellringing, particularly a YouTuber or Instagrammer. Could someone please teach Joe Suggs or Wengie to ring? The comedian Joe Wilkinson is not a bad start – last week he tweeted “Bellringing is a really difficult thing to practice secretively, isn’t it?”, which was picked up by ringer Simon Everest and culminated in Joe saying he would learn to ring when ringing returns. Good effort Simon!

Back to CC activity, and the University taskforce has started work. Ian Roulstone is leading it and he has a team of young ringers who are either about to go to University, there already, or recently left but still active with University ringing. The brief is to develop strategies for making sure that the move into University life is not a point at which young ringers are lost, but one where young ringers develop and thrive. A logical extension to that is to also make sure the we halt the next drop off point as well, those who leave university ringing and never get back into local ringing. Ian’s intention is to let the young ringers themselves drive the project.

And finally well done Rosie Robot on ringing a course of Bob Minor. She was perhaps fortunate to ring in such a good band. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7zQhuOdKIs I look forward to following her progress.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR