People who know me know not to write anything important in the second paragraph of emails. Make your point early and don’t bother with the “How are you? Hope you are staying busy in these difficult times” section. So, to test you out I am going to ask a question in my opening paragraph and answer it at the very end, to check whether you have read that far. By how much can a bellframe move before it causes noticeable problems for the ringers?
I ask that because last Wednesday I enjoyed a fascinating talk by Gordon Breeze about how to model and measure the movement of towers. Towers can be extremely complex structures, and this is modelling with a PHD level of complexity, thankfully explained to us in a GSCE/A level sort of way (almost). Gordon is Head of Wind Engineering at the Building Research Establishment and has developed a way of modelling the movement of towers, based on an initial project at Wingrave. The methodology can potentially be used in other scenarios to help us determine where to position a bellframe to avoid risk of tower movement, and hence ringer discomfort. We still need some bucking broncos of course to give us our war stories, but not for everyday use please.
Hopefully you saw one of the news stories about how the Dove database is now being adopted as the central registry of bell information for all heritage bodies, including the Church Buildings Council, which has always maintained its own database of bells and bellframes. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, but the importance of the agreement was clear from the delight of those who brought it about – Mark Regan, Chris Pickford and Dickon Love. Bells and bellframes aren’t ‘listed’ in the same way that buildings are. I have always thought that it might be desirable to be able to list a ring of bells at its current number in order to stop anyone augmenting great examples of rings of bells. Should Chewton Mendip be protected as an eight for instance, or Maidstone as a 10?
A long discussion on the changeringers email list centred on the “Zone Articles”, articles I originally wrote about 15 years ago which established the now well used descriptions of different levels of ringing as being Blue, Red and Black Zones. It actually became a discussion of how we find ringing information. No one searching for “Zone articles” could find them, and I could only find them because I knew what the articles were originally called when they were printed in the Ringing World (“Room at the Top”, for reasons which are unlikely to become clear). So a topic for our epic-length Executive and Workgroups meeting next Sunday is going to be how best to help ringers navigate all the ringing websites and find what is important to them. Does everyone know about ringing.info? Does anyone use the changeringing wiki? What do you actually expect to find on the Central Council or Ringing World websites? Links to the articles can be found at the bottom.
Quite a few people have tolled a bell 100 times either to remember the 100,000 Covid deaths in the United Kingdom or in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore. We discussed ringing a single bell for Captain Tom’s funeral at our fortnightly discussion with the CofE Recovery Group, but they have already got into a pickle on this subject (search for deleted tweet controversy) and cannot take a formal position on it. Off the record they were supportive though, and saw that it could be viewed as a single act of worship.
There is a survey worth completing if you don’t mind spending eight minutes on it (when you have read to the end of this), on behalf of the Church of England. It is about the impact on communities of not having access to churches, but as you complete it you will see how it doesn’t really recognise bellringing. We would like the answers from bellringers to emphasise our role. It is in our interests to be seen as part of the church and contributing to its success. https://churchesandcovid.org/survey
One of the rewards of occasional visits to ring at Worcester Cathedral is being able to stock up on the very excellent locally produced marmalade. If you are reading the web version of this you have a day left to submit your marmalade into the ‘Campanologist’s Marmalade (for bellringers)’ category of the Dalemain Awards, the Blue Ribband event in the artisan marmalade producers’ calendar. If you are reading the RW edition, there’s always next year. Don’t worry – I will bring you the results in due course to save you constantly checking the website.
50 or so “Survival & Recovery Champions” joined a Zoom call last Saturday for an introduction to the jointly produced CC/ART Survival & Recovery Toolbox, an extensive set of resources to help individuals, towers, branches, even associations continue to keep ringers motivated and bands together, while looking forward to how we get ringing going again. Hayley Young from Truro DG gave a great talk on the current efforts of her Guild, I gave my view on why I think this is important and why we set up the team, and Lesley Belcher introduced the Toolbox itself. All nicely compered by Annie Hall. Lots of great feedback, lots of great ideas, lots of energy.
Some associations are putting in a phenomenal effort to keep their members motivated and skilled. I have previously mentioned the NAG’s ‘GatheRing’ and this week it’s the turn of the G&B Winter School to get a much deserved mention. Orchestrated by Steve Coleman, the Winter School followed the pattern of their Summer School in having 21 training seminars over seven days with multiple tutors and a wide range of topics. Over 1000 attendees from across the G&B and Salisbury Guild. A terrific feat of organisation.
You have got to the end. The answer is less than a couple of millimetres.