President’s Blog #32

At the time of writing, BellBoard had over 2600 performances linked in memory of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Mostly single bell tolling, undoubtedly effective and understood by the millions who would have heard it. Such events underline the importance of bells in communities. Ted Westlake took top honours for what must have been the nerve-wracking tolling of the tenor at the Curfew Tower during the funeral procession, supported by Vikki Bulbeck and James White, and with military timing. This ringing had an audience of 13 million on BBC alone!

To be honest the initial announcement of Prince Philip’s passing on the Friday morning caught us out. The clarification of guidance could have been slicker although many ringers and bands just got on with it. When we were first approached by Lambeth and Buckingham Palaces’ representatives to discuss Operations London and Forth Bridges (the plans for what will happen on the deaths of the Queen and Prince Philip respectively), it was all very clandestine and in hushed voices. The Council’s guidance for ringing for these events was drafted and published without fanfare, but it hadn’t been shared widely or updated for the pandemic (and the Church hadn’t really thought about it either). We will be reviewing the London Bridge guidance in the coming weeks and will make sure everyone knows where it is.

The Council is now ready to start recruiting Small Societies to its ranks. This initiative, voted through at the Council meeting last September, is seeking to increase the representation of smaller and emerging bell ringing societies (those with fewer than 75 members) and recognise the part they play in ringing. Ed Sterland has agreed to be the Small Societies Co-Ordinator and we will be writing to all the smaller societies we can find over the coming weeks to invite them to consider affiliation. More information on Small Societies and the application process can be found here

It was a delight to host the Kildwick MiniRingers on an outing to the Brumdingers Ringing Room practice last Saturday. They were the other very young band that took part in the virtual call change competition, younger even than the two Worcester bands. These young ringers, some of whom have not rung on real bells yet, continue to have the flame of enthusiasm fanned in Ringing Room. We were able to show them how we do 16 bell call changes (four fours) and the Brumdingers’ signature “firing and descent into chaos” with which we always finish our sessions. I am going to miss that now we are back to proper ringing, although the “descent into chaos” bit is likely to stay.

Young ringers’ groups have been able to restart following the guidance published on 12 April. The next stage of unlocking of ringing in England at least will hopefully be on 17 May, and that guidance will be published on the Council website by Friday (today if you are reading the print RW). We are hoping to get ringing for up to 45 minutes for low-risk ringers in well-ventilated towers.

I don’t know about you (obviously) but I find it very difficult to watch recordings of Zoom webinars, and much prefer to see them live. Which is odd really because I hardly watch any live TV now and there are so many advantages to catch-up viewing such as fast forward. However, there are two from the last couple of weeks which I really recommend for those who have given up watching Line of Duty because it’s too complicated.

Firstly a St Martin’s Guild one. David Hull gave a talk about the music of ringing, supported by some good videos to illustrate his points (worth it just to hear the Minor 10 at Worcester). Well worth an hour of your time. (St Martins’ Guild website under ‘Training and Resources’).

And then there was another offering from Cornwall. What is it about Cornwall at the moment? Two blogs running and something great to report from the county where they put the jam on first (quite right too). I did think this week about replacing my entire blog with a link to it saying “just watch this”  It’s an amazing and inspirational story about how Bradoc Church increased its congregation five-fold in a strategic plan to meet it parish share by introducing bell ringing as a core focus of the church. It involved particularly bringing in children with chime bars, handbells, and a mini ring actually in the church. Please find and hour and watch it.

Robert’s approach at Bradoc ties in so well with the Lottery bid we are submitting in partnership with the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain. It’s a long term project bid aimed at engaging with the education system to introduce young people to the world of bell ringing using mobile belfries, portable mini-rings and handbells. The HRGB has already piloted a scheme for using handbells to teach music in schools, working through two Local Authority Music Hubs. It brings together all sorts of current CC initiatives.

We had a good meeting of the Recovery Champions last Sunday, with over 80 turning out on a sunny Sunday afternoon, listening to a presentation by Frank Seabright on what they have done in the Ledbury District (one week a month they cancel all their practices and hold one focused practice each evening aimed at different levels), and Matt Lawrence on their impressive efforts in Shropshire. Both stimulated useful debate and ideas to take away.

On a day when the Bellringers Facebook group descended into the gutter again, I happened to be looking at online forums which might be used by ringers who can be nice to each other. This is a Stewardship & Management Workgroup project supported by the Technical group and they have shortlisted Discourse, Invision Community and Plush Forums. These services definitely seem to have come a long way from the days of Yahoo Groups and, dare I say it, old Bulletin Boards. If anyone uses any of these for other communities, we would be interested in your experiences.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

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