President’s Blog #25

I first saw a 3D barcode about 25 years ago when I worked in the nascent internet industry. I couldn’t really see the point of them, just like I couldn’t see the point of a start-up company called Shazam which we had the opportunity to invest in (big mistake – huge). Now 3D barcodes, or QR codes, are ubiquitous, and we are starting to see them on ringing chamber notice boards.

The Truro DG has come up with a great idea using QR codes to broadcast the sound of church bells in the community. A QR code is generated that is linked to an MP3 recording of the bells at a particular tower, and this QR code can then be put in the church porch, the local library or even the pub! A short video on the idea can be found here The action starts about 15 seconds in, possibly after a Galaxy advert.

Thomas Ashwin-Siejkowski has had a letter printed in a new BBC book called “Letters from Lockdown.” Thomas talks about how much he misses bellringing, how many friends he has made from it, and how much he is looking forward to the future. In his Foreword, Evan Davis says “This book is a collection of some of these Chronicles, written in the midst of one of the most unexpected and intense moments in our history. Together they give us an unforgettable portrait of ordinary people caught in extraordinary times, with all the humour and tragedy and uncertainty we’ve been through.” Good job Thomas – a great future awaits you.

Ringing is going to come earlier for bands of young ringers. For some time, Mark Regan of the CC ‘Covid guidance team’ has been pursuing the possibility of using the ‘supervised children’s activities in out of school settings’ guidance to get groups of ringers aged under 18 to ringing again. This has now borne fruit and in the New Year youth groups will be able to ring across all tiers under controlled conditions. Detailed guidance will be published in the Ringing World on Friday.

A letter in The Telegraph last Friday from a lady called Ann Cottee asked for a ‘reasonable explanation’ for why her Tower Captain has said it was illegal for them to ring the bells at her church of Gislingham. By the power of t‘interweb I tracked her down to being the neighbour of the tower captain, and a churchwarden, which enabled me to send her a nice email explaining how her bellringers were dutifully following the guidance of the House of Bishops but would hope to be ringing again soon. “I am sorry to have caused fluttering in the dovecotes” she replied.

As usual there is good work going on in the background in the Workgroups. Take the work of the T&T Workgroup – their report to the Executive was over two pages of small print covering such detail as the work on compositions (lots of old collections being added in and now 40,000 compositions online with 30% input by workgroup members), v2 of the Framework which is coming soon, the Dove database development continuing apace with the team expanding to include expertise in carillons and mini-rings, and on top of that the Council teams are hoping to transfer onto Office365 and have decent email addresses by Christmas! No more simonhippo…

Sometimes Facebook polls capture the imagination, and none more so than one I posted asking whether we confess to being ringers on our CVs. 850 people answered the poll, with only about 10% saying they didn’t confess. There were great stories from ringers who had secured interviews and even jobs because of it, finding ringers on interview panels. Good to see we look after our own!

16th December is a date for the diary for ringers in England, as it is when the Tiers will be reviewed and hopefully some more towers will drop down into Tier 1. The Covid team has just released the plans for ringing over Christmas in England at least, provided nothing gets disastrously worse before the 16th. Bells will be ringing for Christmas.

The first practices under the ‘Cast of 1000’ initiative have started. Three Surprise Major practices last Saturday had 40 of our initial 70 volunteers ringing methods from the Core 7 plus some of the PPE extension methods such as the rather excellent Lancashire. It was a good start to this trial run, with six more practices before Christmas, in advance of rolling out more focused Surprise Major practices in the new year. It was good to welcome Dylan Thomas from New Zealand who rang some surprise major before going off to his Sunday service ringing commitments at Wellington, much to the envy of his fellow Ringing Roomers.

The deadline for the ART Awards is the end of December. These awards have become increasingly popular as a way of recognising achievements in ringing. They don’t just have to be of people involved in ART or the Learning the Ropes scheme, although there are awards specifically for that. The prizes are significant (£2800 in total) so well worth looking at so that you can nominate special achievement.

After six months of trusting the determination of the YouTube competition winners to experts, we are throwing caution to the wind and letting you decide on which of the winners should get the ‘People’s Choice’ award, for the best of the best. This is your chance to decide whose Christmas is going to have a £200 budget increase. This is more important than voting for HRVY or Bill – and its cheaper! Just go to https://cccbr.org.uk/youtube-competition/ and cast your vote wisely or otherwise.

And finally, I learned to ring in the Stafford Archdeaconry Society, now the Lichfield & Walsall Archdeaconries Society of Change Ringers. Their entire committee has gone on my ‘beer tea or cake list’, not for the Society teaching me, though I will always be grateful for that, but for a very kind letter.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR