President’s Blog #19

The days have probably gone when ringers chose their universities based on the ringing opportunities available. Many of my contemporaries will admit that ringing was a factor in their own choices, but those were different times, times when the “Desmond” (a.k.a. the “Ringer’s Degree”) was almost, but not quite, a badge of honour. For young ringers, going to university can be an exciting time, but it is also a time looked forward to by the ringing communities receiving them. Fresh keen ringers are welcome anywhere.

In my home city of Birmingham, we were pleased to see university students return and also to welcome a few very capable ringers who have stated at our universities. Ringing opportunities are currently limited but the new arrivals have been included in the city centre ringing. There was much discussion on university societies at the Council AGM after workgroup leader Ian Roulstone gave his short presentation, particularly the importance of supporting university ringing if the university society doesn’t have critical mass. More information can be found on this workgroup on the newly updated workgroup page of the CC website

Coverage of ringing in national media seems to have got better in recent years. Emily Hall featured in an excellent BBC piece on the return of ‘Covid-Secure’ ringing to Beeston, turning a difficult situation into a positive. You may also have seen a brief glimpse of comedian Susan Calman in a trailer for her ‘Secret Scotland’ series. A vignette on her visiting the bell tower at Inveraray, looked after by Ruth Marshall, will appear in an episode to be broadcast in December.

Last time I talked about two towers that had moved ringers onto different levels to achieve more separation but has any tower adapted their rope circle to increase the spacing between ropes and ringers? Nantwich, which benefits from a large ringing chamber anyway, has inserted new timber struts between walls to allow a rope to be drawn into a new position (see picture). Be careful when making adjustments to towers – check with the Incumbent whether a faculty is required (Nantwich did and one wasn’t).

Progress is being made on the Covid ringing guidance – quietness is not a sign of inactivity. The Council’s small guidance team is pleased to welcome David Pouncey to its ranks. David is a recently retired GP who during a long career spent time dealing with epidemics in Africa, and most recently managing coronavirus patients. As well as taking a share of the workload, David will be specifically looking at the next phase of guidance and is now reviewing and updating all the Guidance Notes.

Situations vacant! The Council is looking for someone to help our Secretary, Mary Bone, in an assistant role. This is particularly in terms of helping with the administration of Council membership, dealing with changes in details, maintaining address lists in various places, and helping in the run up to the AGM. If you have some organisational ability, some spare time, and would like to become a valued member of the team, please either contact Mary secretary@cccbr.org.uk or me.

Changing flights is a regular reminder of overseas ringing trips that have been cancelled. This week I finally got the email from Aer Lingus saying that my flights to New York to judge the Trinity Shield had been cancelled, along with an impossible refund process. But I was happy to take the voucher because it will happen again. The best thing about Aer Lingus to New York from Birmingham via Dublin is you can have four breakfasts – one at each airport and one on each aircraft.

ART has adapted its Learning the Ropes Handbells scheme to allow quarter peals on online platforms in a pragmatic approach to keeping people making progress. Part of ART’s thinking was that such performances are generally harder than ringing with real people in front of you ringing real bells up and down. There is one proviso though in that to complete the LtR Handbells scheme, at least one quarter peal should be rung with real people and real bells. This was felt sufficient to demonstrate good handbell technique and the ability to ring in the same room as others (or same churchyard).

I enjoyed a Sunday evening discussion with members of the Truro DG. An hour easily turned into two as we explored a range of subjects with differing levels of controversy! For instance, “how many rings of bells would you have left in your area if every church with a congregation of fewer than 25 closed for good?” One thing I thought was very interesting and possibly little known is the practice of ringing call change peals – long compositions of call changes, which can be very challenging. Am I right in thinking someone has called a complete peal (as in method peal) in call changes or did I dream it?

Search for Tong in/on Dove and you will see find a perhaps unremarkable 12 cwt ring of 6, but then you come across the additional information “Also hung for ringing: bourdon bell (‘Great Bell of Tong’); rung from chancel.” Rung only on a small number of special days in the year, the Great Bell is a special thing – a special thing which is now easier to ring as it has been re-hung by Taylors. Apparently it actually goes up to the balance now with no hernia risk, which is a definite improvement.

Finally, just like other museums, the Loughborough Bellfoundry Museum has been closed to visitors, and group tours of the bellfoundry buildings have also stopped. Good news is the trust that owns it has received lottery funding to make changes within the building to ensure it is COVID compliant and can reopen to visitors. There are longer term plans to develop the museum further – the Brumdingers young ringers group had great fun helping with ideas for how such a museum could be attractive to young visitors, although there was a lot of focus on the gift shop and café!

Simon Linford
President CCCBR