Westley award for church bell maintenance and improvement 2021


The CCCBR Stewardship & Management Workgroup called for nominations for the 3rd “Westley award” for church bell maintenance and improvement in early March 2021. With Covid restrictions limiting so many activities in churches and towers this year, we were very pleased to receive 10 applications (one with 3 nominees) by the closing date at the end of May. Judging took place in June and the winner receives £100 and a certificate; each runner up will also receive a certificate. Regrettably, these are again being distributed by post this year.

We thank Tom Westley and his company for generously sponsoring this award for the third year. Importantly, we thank all those who prepared nominations, the judges, those willing to be nominated and also the families and friends of the nominees who are supporting and training them. Also, of course, the nominees themselves for their contributions to tower bell maintenance and improvement.



  • Oliver Watson – (age 17) Lindfield, Sussex County Association member
    • Nominated by Michael Royalton-Kisch

Highly Commended

  • Robin Hughes – East Malling, Kent County Association member
    • Nominated by Sue Payne
  • Andrew Newman – Taddington, Derbyshire (non-member)
    • Nominated by Trevor Ride
  • Martin Spurrier – South Leigh, Oxfordshire (non-member)
    • Nominated by Evadne Adrian-Vallance
  • Darren Swancott – Broseley, Hereford Diocesan Guild member
    • Nominated by Ginette Pardoe

Reflection on the nominations by the judges

The judges were so impressed by the enthusiasm and accomplishments of young Oliver Watson; he is the clear winner this year! His application was tough competition for the others.

The most striking feature of the set of applications was that 3 of the 12 people nominated were NON-ringers. They had become involved often in the absence of others willing or able, and were exploiting their skills and expertise from professional and other interests, while building their knowledge of bell installations. Being non-ringers they were not members of their local ringing society. This may be because societies have rules that require potential members to have demonstrated specific ringing achievements such as ringing the bells for services, specific touches, or even a quarter peal. Perhaps societies should review their rules so that non-ringers who are contributing significantly in other ways, may be able to become members. Towers and societies should also ensure that non-ringers are still covered by important matters such as insurance, health and safety, safeguarding etc.

The judges were also pleased that the age profile of applicants was again rather younger, with two nominees under 25, 3 between 25 and 44, 2 between 45 and 64, and 5 people over 65 years old. As in both previous years, we received one nomination for a female applicant. Nominees were from across England; after three Westley awards, we still have to see a nomination from further afield!

The application forms this year were all well presented with plenty of photos of work underway. This was quite surprising as access to towers has been limited for much of the last 18 months, but probably reflects that having a camera and taking photos is so routine for many people now.

The projects and activities reported in the applications included contributions to major restoration projects, one bringing a tower back into use after being unringable, along with many routine but important maintenance, restoration and cleaning tasks. We were surprised that several applicants had only started their activities in towers while Covid restrictions were in force (with appropriate measures adopted in doing so.)

Several activities were aimed at preserving and protecting the installation and tower fabric – cleaning and painting frames and fittings, (re)installing weather protection and sound control across louvres, repairing wheels and trap doors, removing debris and detritus from bell chambers and generally cleaning, tidying and decorating ringing rooms. The judges were pleased that nominees had focused on improving the safety and accessibility of bell chambers and the general appearance of ringing rooms.

Most of the nominees were learning through online materials and discussions with others with experience. Fewer applications this year mentioned face to face courses, unsurprising as few if any have been held in the last 18 months or so.  It was notable that several nominees explained how they were sharing their new knowledge with others, often by working together, through videos on online, cameras in bell chambers, as well as by making bell models for demonstrations. The enthusiasm and willingness to learn and share knowledge is really encouraging.

We hope that everyone will soon be able to resume their work in towers once it is safe for them and others to do so. Keep up the good work, learn more about belfry maintenance and continue to share and encourage others to do likewise! Well done to them all!

Judging panel

Tony Crabtree, Engineer, Member of SMWG
David Roskelly, Engineer, Member of SMWG
Penny Taylor, Engineer and trainer, Independent non-ringer
Peter Woollam, Engineer, Member of SMWG, Lichfield Diocesan Bell Adviser


Stewardship & Management Workgroup Leader – Alison Hodge
July 2021

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