The Council is the representative body for all who ring bells in the English tradition with rope and wheel. Founded in 1891, the Council today represents 65 affiliated societies, which cover all parts of the British Isles as well as centres of ringing in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, South Africa and Italy. These societies in turn comprise the members of the local companies of ringers in their areas.
The Object of the Central Council is to advance the practice, heritage and appreciation of bell ringing as an enjoyable mental and physical exercise and unique performing art for the public benefit of both church and community.
To be the strategic leader and public voice of the ringing community, the arbiter of standards; and to promote an environment where ringing can flourish
A vibrant community of ringers; with bell ringing widely valued as an enjoyable mental and physical exercise and unique performing art, which enhances the life of both community and church
To support and encourage ringing by:
- Find alternative long-term sources of recruits who have the potential to be good ringers
- That no ringer should hit a barrier to their own progression
- The pursuit of excellence in everything we do
- The sound of church bells remains part of our cultural soundscape and is appreciated and understood
- The pursuit of method ringing is not the only measure of success for a ringer
- The Church continues to value our contribution
Strategic Priorities 2020 and beyond
Updated September 2022
1. Find alternative long term sources of recruits who have the potential to be good ringers
We can no longer rely on the church to supply us with recruits, particularly youngsters, and we have to work harder to attract and retain them.
2. That no ringer should hit a barrier to their own progression
If a ringer wants to progress, they should always be able to find a pathway that helps them, although it will probably not just be at their own tower.
3. The pursuit of excellence in everything we do
The pursuit of high quality performances should be what binds together all the different strata and styles of ringing. To achieve this we need the best possible ringing environments, organisation and leadership.
4. The sound of church bells remains part of our cultural soundscape and is appreciated and understood
The sound of church bells is quintessentially British, although it exists more widely. When people hear bells it should not only remind them of the presence of the church, but they should recognise and appreciate the skills involved.
5. The pursuit of method ringing is not the only measure of success for a ringer
No one should feel a failure if they do not do method ringing. All ringers are valued.
6. The Church continues to value our contribution
We must retain the Church’s goodwill in order to continue to have access to their bells.
Strategic Priority 1 : Find alternative long-term sources of recruits who have the potential to be good ringers
Ringing no longer gets potential recruits handed to us on a plate – decline in church congregations and particularly young members of church congregations has put a stop to it.
Catching the attention of young recruits is particularly difficult when other activities and interests compete for their attention.
The task of ringer recruitment and teaching is much harder than it used to be. Territorial associations didn’t have to do recruitment and few were or are set up to do so – recruits came to us (from the church).
Recruitment and training is much harder than it was and the Central Council needs to help, even though this will be new to the Council as well!
Ringing is still seen as predominantly white, able bodied (and male in some places!) – diversity and improved community engagement and benefit is critical, especially for connectivity with the church and grant awarding bodies. Diversity also opens up a bigger pool.
Solutions and Strategies
We need to inject more young ringers into the system and stop them giving up.
Strategies are needed for each of the following:
Schools and Youth Groups
New Schools Workgroup to be established comprising people actively involved in schools, and those currently running youth groups.
- How do we get ringing into the curriculum?
- Handbell ringing (tunes and changes) as an easier way of establishing after school clubs?
- Learn from successful school initiatives
- How do we get ringing more firmly bedded as a DofE activity?
Scouts / Guides
Boys / Girls Brigade
University Workgroup to look at strategies for preventing loss of ringers at the point of going to University or leaving university. Also help with the relationships with Students Unions for funding – ringing societies often don’t meet membership thresholds at single institutions but might across a local group of institutions.
University Workgroup to establish links with universities at current undergraduate level, and with broader groupings such as the NUA and SUA. Must comprise members currently active in universities.
ART to deliver M1 and M2 courses to young teachers
Pilot a summer school that has Year 12 ringers learning to teach in the first week and then younger learners to be taught by them in the second week. This is aimed at getting more ringers going to university with the ability and confidence to teach those recruited at Freshers Fayres. The YCRA might help with this.
Investigate a truly mobile belfry that can be taken round schools, music festivals, etc. and set up quickly. Needs to be proper bells so it is a realistic experience. Maybe on the back of a truck, or towed.
Additionally commission a standard permanent mini-ring design that could be rolled out to multiple secular venues after first being built at the NaRC.
We also need to continue with recruitment of older ringers who form the mainstay of many bands. The group that is missing in so many areas is the 25-50 age group, and activation of lapsed ringers could help plug that gap. Most of our current marketing is indiscriminate. We may be more effective if we target our marketing better.
There are probably complementary hobbies which could identify potential recruits with the right profile. This might be different in different types of community – city vs rural town vs village. Crossword puzzlers, train spotters, musicians and choir members, young farmers, engineers, scientists, mathematicians (started to show dominance in Trends survey) etc. Social media marketing could be very targeted if we understood where people with the sorts of traits that make good bellringers are also active.
|1.1||Schools and Youth Groups||Establish Schools Workgroup / Taskforce to explore:|
* How do we get ringing into the curriculum
* Handbell ringing as an easier way of establishing after school clubs?
* Learn from successful school initiatives
* Scouts, guides, DofE
|Current workgroup members||Progress being made with all initiatives – see Workgroup report from 2021 meeting.|
YCRA founded and being nurtured
|1.2||Funding Bids||Submit a funding bid to NHLF for to support taking bells into schools|
Uses new Mobile Belfry, existing mobile belfries and mini rings
|Working with ART and with support from the Churches Conservation Trust|
Bid document being written by Roger Booth supported by SL
|Due for submission before 2022 meeting (has taken six months longer than anticipated)|
|1.3||Universities||Establish Universities Workgroup / Taskforce to explore:|
* strategies for preventing loss of ringers at the point of going to Uni
* Relationships with Stu Unions for funding, etc
* links with universities at current undergraduate level
* NUA / SUA
|Current workgroup members||Work being done on Students Unions YCRA is aimed at preventing loss at the school/uni border|
|1.4||Young teachers||M1 and M2 courses tailored to and promoted to young ringer groups||ART – David Smith||3 have been run to date. M2F run by CUG and plan to repeat in Oxford and Bristol. ART is planning a major push using mobile belfries|
|1.5||Summer School||Summer school that has Year 12 ringers learning to teach in the first week and then younger learners to be taught by them in the second week. This is aimed at getting more ringers going to university with the ability and confidence to teach those recruited at Freshers Fayres.||YCRA in association with ART||Planned for first weekend in September and students have already applied.|
|1.6||Mobile belfry||Truly mobile belfry that can be taken round schools, music festivals, etc. and set up quickly.Repeatable design Consider the future of Charmborough and possibility of bring mobile belfries under common direction||Taylors|
|Well advanced and should launch by Nottingham AGM.|
|1.7||Social media||To understand how to communicate with young ringers we need to understand how to best use Instagram||PR Workgroup||No real progress to date|
|1.8||Demographic profiling||Possibly commission some demographic profiling to identify all age recruitment areas that we might not have thought of “if you like this, you may like this”. This has potential for being a university research project.||Build on previous surveys and “Trends”||No real progress to date|
|1.9||Marketing campaigns||Support a national recruitment campaign post Covid|
Target spring 2022 Encourage Churches Conservation Trust to launch the campaign they had planned for 2020
Produce short new PR/marketing video
General awareness improvement
|PR Workgroup and others|
SL / CCT / ART
George Perrin on videos
|National recruitment campaign is not to be done before the branding and positioning is developed, and a team is working on this. Agency brief now sent to agencies. Videos are being produced this summer|
Strategic Priority 2 : That no ringer should hit a barrier to their own progression
Towers and even territorial associations are struggling to fulfil the aspirations of all ringers.
There are now too few local bands that are strong enough to develop ringers beyond rounds and call changes, and there are lots of places where a Surprise practice is a rarity. Some ringers travel many miles to advance their ringing.
This situation is prevalent at most points on the learning curve, but it is particularly true at the point of getting ringers past basic methods such as Grandsire and Plain Bob – the limit of the majority of local bands. Many associations are addressing more basic training needs than they have in the past.
There is a huge amount of unfulfilled ringing potential, ringers who desperately want to improve or extend their horizons but lack the opportunity and/or guidance to do so.
Sometimes towers try to “keep” the few ringers they have, rather than recognising that this may in fact lose them indirectly if they don’t encourage them to find opportunities to progress.
The borders of territorial associations, and even the borders between branches or districts within associations, are often poorly served as they seem to form a barrier to cooperation, although there are definitely exceptions.
(“My four closest towers are all in different associations so we cannot co-operate” – actual comment on Facebook)
In many places, groups of towers form themselves into ‘clusters’ – a unit smaller than a branch or district, and not necessarily towers affiliated to the same society. This is usually just to have enough ringers for the basics, rather than a critical mass for more advanced ringing. There are also examples of where ringers themselves form themselves into new groups specifically to practice more advance ringing.
We are not managing to energise enough ringers to help other ringers, although we should be mindful that not everyone actually wants to be helped.
There are too few teachers, especially good ones
There are too few good leaders, and leaders are so important in inspiring and encouraging others.
Solutions and Strategies
(In addition to what branches, districts and associations already do)
More places could be encouraged or given the tools to establish ringing ‘schools’ that provide regular (weekly if possible) training and longer courses, particularly targeted at the Blue Zone / Red Zone border where we try and get ringers beyond Bob Doubles and Grandsire. There are a number of models that are starting to work. A Workgroup could focus the expertise of those who have made it work and then help establish other groups.
Organise more Bradfield/Hereford-type courses. Ringers will pay for training. There is probably enough demand for an intensive residential training course once a month if they were spread around the country! This would need a team to organise them, working with local ringers, and energising helpers. Let’s start small and build on the success of existing courses.
Investigate running residential courses at Churches Conservation Trust churches where they run ‘Champing’.
ART Hubs and other Ringing Centres to be encouraged to run regular courses that ringers can sign up to. These could be publicised more widely. Weekly focus is ideal if possible.
All this needs to leverage more people willing to help. We could target untapped potential to help with training. Specifically how about finding 1000 ringers who would be prepared to do two hours on a Saturday morning once a month to help with training? Set up a structure that will organise them and ask them, and then maybe reward and recognise them appropriately (not necessarily financially).
- Lapsed ringers
- Retired peal ringers
- Active ringers outside territorial associations
With potentially less peal ringing going on post-pandemic, there ought to be more available helper resource – swap one peal a week for helping at a practice. It will only work if those attending practices to learn are motivated to learn.
There should be much more focus on quarter peal and peal ringing as a mechanism for providing opportunities to up and coming ringers not only to cement method knowledge but to attain prolonged exposure to better striking with competent bands. Quarter peals for evensong used to be a way that lots of bands provided extended practice for learners. Somehow we need to get the giving of opportunities to others ranking at least as highly as pursuit of personal goals and numbers.
A Leadership Academy needs to have broad support. A set of recognised leadership principles could be established under which different organisations (Guilds, Associations, Ringing Centre, ART) can deliver courses / material.
ART is already developing a leadership course in recognition of this need and the Volunteering and Leadership Workgroup is also considering it.
We are good at recognising ringers who have been in charge for a long time. We should however also celebrate new leaders, and those who create other leaders.
Good leadership is not a subject restricted to leadership of ringing. Nor is progress in ringing limited to increasing knowledge and skills in method ringing. Leadership of tower and bell maintenance is also important, as is more understanding of engineering, bell history, and social history associated with ringing. All this will help with retention of ringers, but keeping those with different skills interested and valued. This will require more proactive creation and organisation of courses targeted at these areas.
This all needs to be supported by comms and marketing that enables those ringers looking to progress their ringing to find the sources of help. And even before that, some ringers will not even realise that progression is possible or that there is life outside their own tower’s bubble. The breadth of ringing activity should be easily discoverable.
|2.1||Schools and regular training sources||Establish what is current being done and what is working|
Not just bell handling and change ringing techniques, but bell maintenance and all the broader aspects of ringing
|Clyde Whittaker to undertake the research SMWG + ? Taylors museum, CC Library etc||Nich Wilson has taken on the Ringing Centre brief and is looking at how this works alongside ART Hubs|
|2.2||More residential ‘Bradfield’ courses||Feasibility of central organisation of more of them|
15.2 – decided we will try and organise 2 new residential courses in 2021 in areas currently underserved by exiting courses. CC led, with local support. Likely to both be in the North of England
|V&L||First course planned in Lancashire in 2022 Options for adding in 2023 and 2024 being considered including Yorkshire and Exeter/North Somerset|
|2.3||More day courses focusing on Red Zone development||Unlocking CYs and SRCY|
Unlock lapsed ringers
|Simon / Phil|
Those Societies’ RepsAssociations
|Support obtained from ASCY and SRCY for the Cast of 1000. Don’t currently have a way of moving forward.|
|2.4||Leadership Academy||Develop a set of agreed Leadership Principles so different groups can organise leadership courses and material under a common strategy|
Leadership course or leadership strategy Ways to celebrate new leaders and old leaders replacing themselves
|ART is working on a leadership course. V&L in support Ringing World|
|2.5||Improve diversity||Project to identify barriers to progress of women ringers then provide support and opportunityProgress to monitored by peals and quarters analysis team and reported on quarterly||Julia Cater and team Performance analysis group||Women in Ringing project was done. Needs high profile commitment. Progress made on QP analysis and investigation into gender tracking|
|2.5||New publications focused on early stages of change ringing||Book series like Ladybird books being consideredSingle topic, low cost “How do I?”||Publications||Needs writers and topic list|
Strategic Priority 3 : Pursuit of excellence in everything we do
There are now two quite distinct bodies of ringers and we need to recognise this because it might guide our recruitment and retention strategies. This may have been even more accentuated by the pandemic as some ringers have reassessed their aspirations, and some bands have got weaker.
Group 1 or ‘Service Group’
Primary motive is to provide a service to the church locally, and to have a sociable activity. Characteristics of ringers and ringing in the service group are as follows:
- Operate predominantly in Green/Blue Zones (up to Bob Minor but stopping short of Cambridge Minor)
- Sociability driver
- Service ethos
- Unpressured ringing environment
- More mature learners
- Much heavier teacher requirement
- Recruitment through church or as lifelong hobby
- Not really that interested in the wider world
This probably represents 70-80% of ringers.
Group 2 – pursuit of progress
This group may have much the same motives as Group 1 in terms of the importance of providing a service to the church and wanting a sociable activity, but in addition sees ringing for the challenge of making progress. Ringers in this group are going to further the ‘Art and Science’ of change ringing. Characteristics of ringers in this group are:
- More likely to be recruited as teenagers
- Will learn rapidly when still young and will retain the ability and desire to learn
- See ringing as a ‘secular sport’ but with the service obligation
- Support through transition to University
- May have variable commitment
- Predominantly (but not exclusively) urban
- Practising on handbells as well as tower bells
- Doesn’t actually need the church organisation, and the church is possibly a hindrance (as in, if all rings of bells were not in churches, many of this group would still ring, and might ring even more)
In most of the ringing community ‘progress’ is measured in terms of method ringing, with call changes being an intermediate step, however in parts of the south west of England the group also exists but develops its skill in call change ringing.
One thing that can link these two groups other than the physical act of ringing is the pursuit of quality performance.
Unlike in the South West’s call change regions, where the pursuit of good striking is the sole focus, in the rest of the country, eagerness to progress in method ringing is often done at good striking’s expense.
Many factors contribute to lack of focus on the quality of the performance. Struggling bands often recruit older learners, who in turn take longer to learn, who may well be encouraged to ring more difficult things before they are ready. Able learners migrate elsewhere, leading to a downward spiral. More experienced ringers don’t tend to support towers where standards are low, leading to a further downward spiral.
There is a culture of it being acceptable to correct another ringer’s method ringing, but not their striking. Correcting striking is also more difficult both for the corrector and the corrected.
The ringing we do should be of the highest quality in terms of performance – it is better to have one tower ringing well than two towers ringing badly. Possibly not everyone thinks this is true and it depends on whether the public can tell good ringing from bad, and whether a vicar would prefer to have his bells rung poorly rather than not at all.
Whatever the level of ringing, ringers must feel welcome and encouraged in any tower where they ring of visit. We cannot enforce that, but we can suggest good practices and publicise good examples.
Whichever group, excellence is also required in tower operations and tower infrastructure – many potential ringers are lost and many ringing performances seriously sub-standard because of the poor conditions and environments in towers. Once again, we cannot enforce that, but we can suggest good practices, publicise good examples and encourage investment in improving ringing infrastructure.
Solutions and Strategies
Increase the importance of Excellence in the Council’s vision/mission.
Can we encourage more striking competitions, maybe of a different style that all ringers would actually enjoy? Regional six bell striking competitions maybe between clusters of towers to be encouraged although that is effectively what branches and districts already do. Practicing for competitions gives very good focus. It is a failing of the current way in which striking competitions are organised that they put off just those bands that would benefit most from participating. Probably incorporated into some other social event. Increase the awareness of and use high-quality Call Change ringing as an end in itself in the rest of the country, as a distinct skill and part of ringing.
Suggest good practices and publicise good examples of how ringers should be made welcome in towers. Encourage the view that ringing can be fun. We can be very bad at inclusivity, always just staying with our own circle of friends.
Provide advice and publicise good examples of how to improve and maintain the “go” of the bells, and good environmental conditions in towers. Emphasis that this is not a chore, but a real transferrable skill. Welcome those who are not ringers to help and advise – they may become ringers!
To support this Guilds and Associations could consider whether their Bell Restorations Funds can be repurposed at all to support general improvement to ringing installations and anything that makes bells easier to ring, and ringing chambers more attractive to potential recruits and more conducive to learning.
Excellence in teaching – we need to get away from people being taught badly. Being taught by good teachers at a limited number of towers is ideal. The thing to crack is a tower that has a new recruit not feeling they have to teach that learner themselves. Increasing the number of teachers known to be good would underpin the importance of quality teaching.
Also need training in how to run practices – with a focus for those attending on methods, striking etc. Not just practices on the end of ropes but theory sessions and home work.
There must be better commitment by participants on attending and participating – in most group pursuits it is expected that you will attend the weekly or monthly session, contribute, learn / prepare at home etc. In ringing we rarely know who will or will not turn up. You may prepare to ring Cambridge Major then find that only 5 people arrive!
A recruitment-oriented website could then give location-based recommendation of where to learn to ring.
Then we need to make sure that the importance of striking becomes a focus at the foundation level. Listening exercise should go hand in hand with the other aspects of learning to ring. Reduce emphasis on pushing on to ring more methods when they don’t have the basics.
ART is already working on increasing the prominence of striking and the testing of striking in the early stages of Learning the Ropes.
|3.1||Vision and Mission||Review and ensure it is in line with this Strategy||Exec – done|
|3.2||Learning the Ropes – striking||Increased focus on striking in Learning the Ropes programme||David Smith|
|6.3: In progress with ARTWeb based version of striking app from 3.6 to be incorporated.|
|3.3||Devon Call Changes||Revise Judging Striking Competitions book|
ART to develop revised course material for Devon
Review positioning and description of Devon Call Change ringing across all Council’s activities and publications
|SL after visit to Devon|
ART Devon Association
|ART has now launched call change modelSimon Linford has published call changes eBook.|
Devon Call Change ringing becoming more talked about particularly through Blog promotion.
|3.4||Website||Improvement of location-based ringing recruitment website “find nearest teacher” functionality||This will come from Nich Wilson’s work|
|3.5||Teacher accreditation||ART to explore a way of widening pool of accredited teachers based on something other than attending M1||ART||Desirability agreedUnder discussion and ideas being floatedVery difficult area (and it is up to ART)|
|3.6||Striking app||Development of a mobile app that can develop and test listening skills||ART|
New T&T workgroup leader will pick up
|App specified. GACJ on the case. Contacted the developer of the tadhill website who is keen to help.|
|3.7||Welcome attitude||Suggest good practices and publicise good examples of how ringers should be made welcome in towers. Encourage the view that ringing can be fun. Establish “networks” for people involved in positions of responsibility||Let’s Ring!|
The Accidental Ringer blog
Seminars, events, workshops, videos, etc.
SMWG articles in RW in “When did you last do it?” series
“Trip Adviser” extension to Dove?
|Stalled really during ringing restrictions |
Discussed at ART Conference – why not?
|3.8||Tower environment and condition of bells||Provide advice and publicise good examples of how to improve and maintain bells in good condition, and provide good environmental conditions in towers.|
Training more trainers to provide good (inter)-national coverage
Establish “networks” for people involved in positions of responsibility e.g. tower operation / maintenance etc
|SMWG articles on improving tower environment in RW in “When did you last do it?” series|
Seminars, events, workshops, videos, case studies, etc.
Westley Award, further awards (certification?)
|First draft of tower environment best practice drafted|
Called Forums – launched Sep 21. WGLeads to get special interest groups established
Forums gradually gaining traction but not yet working for special interest groups
Strategic Priority 4 : The sound of church bells remains part of our cultural soundscape and is appreciated and understood
The role of bells in actually calling people to worship is not particularly strong. Some evangelical churches actively discourage it! The sound of bells is however associated with churches and with ‘Britishness’.
When people hear ringing they should appreciate the skill involved – too many members of the general public think the bells they hear are being rung by a machine!
Broadening the understanding of what we do will make ringing more respected and potential recruits keener to learn. It may also let recruits know what is involved, igniting their curiosity, and managing their expectations.
Solutions and Strategies
We need to consider how people would find out about bells and bell ringing and then make sure they are properly informed when they do, as well as proactively raising awareness.
YouTube is the ‘go to’ place for videos of anything people might be interested in. Although there is now a lot of ringing on YouTube, the likelihood of a member of the general public finding something on YouTube that really explains or demonstrates what we do is slim. There are at least two things we could do:
- There needs to be a curated collection of historic videos of ringing so potential and new learners can get interested in ringing and its history
- There needs to be much more good change ringing on YouTube. At the moment there is hardly any because the best change ringing, or at least the best method ringing, is rarely filmed, and if it is, it doesn’t necessarily make it to YouTube.
- We could create and distribute more content that explains the art and science behind change ringing which would get a different audience interested
A ‘National Ringing Centre’ could act as a focal point, providing a place where school trips, club outings, or other interested people can go and learn about bell ringing.
“Friends of the Bells” – this concept would be something to encourage people who are not going to become bellringers to be supportive and value their bell ringers and the sound of the bells. It could encourage legacy giving.
“Band of the Year” – similar to the previous point, we could run an annual competition for non ringers to nominate a local band who makes the most difference to the local community?
Both those two ideas, which are about raising awareness of the general public without overtly trying to recruit them, could be done in association with the church.
We could try and promote ringing by linking it with BBC Music Day, perhaps with a National Quarter Peal week.
More people nominated and successful in high level national awards such as MBEs – there are very few in ringing, Alan Regin, Harry Windsor, others? Is this comparable to other activities? Probably not. Would it be possible for there to be a national/international ringing awards process or are the ART Awards filling a decent part of that gap?
|4.1||YouTube – historical||Collection of all historic videos||H&A Workgroup|
|4.2||YouTube – current||Good ringing on YouTube. Creation of new material, Channel to feature the best current clips. Needs to be somewhere people find it||C&M||Completed with the YouTube competition|
|4.3||National Ringing Centre||Creation of NaRC as a focal point||SL, CW working with PDG team||MOU with CCT, PDG closely involved – target early 2024|
|4.4||Engagement of non ringers||Explore possibility of a “Friends of the Bells” concept“Band of the Year” annual competition to be voted on by non ringers||PR|
Clerical Guild (to explore whether this is something that could be led from church congregations)
|Clerical Guild looking at establishing “Bell Sunday”|
|4.5||BBC Music Day||Link in somehow, e.g. a National Quarter Peal week||Clyde?|
|4.6||Promotional video||For social media distribution|
There isn’t actually a succinct and very good explanation of what we do
|See 1.9 above||In progress by PR Workgroup|
4.1 and 4.2 aren’t necessarily in this section
Strategic Priority 5 : The pursuit of method ringing is not the only measure of success for a ringer
The ‘Service Group’ referred to earlier (ringers whose primary motivation is service to the church at a local level) does not need method ringing in order to fulfil its objectives. Competence and loyalty are key attributes for ringers in this group. However much of what we currently do implies that someone who does not progress into method ringing is a second class citizen.
For those not cut out for method ringing, its pursuit will just make their ringing worse, which in turn will lead to dissatisfaction and undermine their overall contribution to ringing. Those who do not wish to pursue method ringing will often just end up in the ‘learners’ touch’ and not experience the joy of good ringing.
We also need ringers whose special aptitude is for things other than ringing, e.g. bell maintenance so it would not want to lose such a person.
A focus on excellence in call changes is more likely to meet the needs of the Service Group. Parts of the West Country successfully have the pursuit of excellence instead of the pursuit of complexity, and it is the sole focus of the Devon Association.
Solutions and Strategies
Call change competitions need greater exposure – perhaps have more associations challenging some of the bands from the West Country. Striking competitions in method ringing areas tend to discourage the more experienced bands from ringing call changes.
Could ART Hubs or Ringing Centres have mini call change challenges between them? Geographical challenges to overcome but more will form.
ART could consider amending the Learning the Ropes programme so that the achievement of call changes is an end in itself rather than being part way towards something ‘greater’.
The CC website to be much clearer on the distinction between different styles of ringing.
Review of recruitment and training material to see whether it would be desirable or indeed beneficial to separate ringing up to call changes from method ringing.
We should do more to recognise achievement in aspects of the wider ringing environment, which the Westley Awards has started to do for instance.
|5.1||Learning the Ropes||ART to consider whether LtR changes so that call changes is the end of a ‘Foundation’ block, prior to specialisation||ART|
|Principle is supported by ART and is being actively developed. The LtR Advanced Call Changes Scheme was launched in 2022|
|5.2||Devon Call Changes||Increase exposure outside Devon. Needs a cross-border task force to explore possibilities|
Review how CC website deals with different styles of ringing
Review other recruitment and training material
|Cross border task force||Call change ringing is getting much higher profile with repeated blog posts and the ART scheme|
Not done, except SL has now published and eBook on learning Devon Call Changes
|5.3||Competitions||Expand call change competitions outside DevonCall change comps between ART Hubs and Ringing Centres||ART|
Kent keen for a challenge
|Plan now is to hold an ‘Open’ contest at Moseley in May 2023, particular with bands following the eBook|
Strategic Priority 6 : The Church continues to value our contribution
The vast majority of bells are in churches and we need to maintain the goodwill of the Church to give us continued access. We are fortunate that the Church recognises that ringing other than for service still advertises the presence of the church and its place in the community.
Ringers’ contribution to church life often extends beyond the belfry. Ringers often multi-task in churches, singing in the choir, acting as churchwardens, taking the service or just being part of the congregation.
Church organisation is decentralised. Dioceses act independently. Other bodies are also important to us – the Church Buildings Council advises churches and dioceses on care, conservation and development of church buildings. Dioceses have their own Advisory Committees which make decisions on bell-related matters. Cathedrals tend to talk to each other as a network. Heritage bodies such as Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland and Cadw have an interest in bells and frames which may conflict with our own. And ultimately individual incumbents have jurisdiction over their own church.
Safeguarding needs to continue to be taken very seriously because it is a huge priority in the Church of England in particular. Issues relating to bellringing are fairly few and far between, but the Church’s view is that any incident is one too many. We should not over value our contribution – the Church will not tolerate no compliance with their safeguarding requirements and if loss of bellringing is a price to pay they will pay it. So to continue ringing we must comply.
An increasing number of churches, particularly in city centres, are going to be taken over by the evangelical wing of the Church. Evangelical churches tend not to see bells as part of their worship and may actively discourage it, converting ringing chambers into office space or actively preventing ringing. Given how this is the form of worship that is most attractive to young people, it is important to align ringing with the evangelical church in different ways.
The Covid pandemic strengthened the Council’s relationships with the Church of England at a high level, due the way in which we were seen to have dealt with ringing and our relationship with their own advisers.
Solutions and Strategies
The Central Council must maintain and develop its high level relationship with all relevant church and advisory bodies, as well as other stakeholders.
Somehow this needs to filter down to Diocesan level and individual churches so the importance of bells and bell ringing is appreciated by all clergy. Bells are the church’s most powerful external voice and something that cements the church’s position in the community.
If there is a service, we should try and have bells rung, provided the incumbent actually wants them (not all churches with bells want them rung for services).
Safeguarding needs to remain a number one priority. One major safeguarding issue could make recruitment of youngsters impossible.
|6.1||Engagement with church and heritage bodies||Ongoing – particular focus on Church Buildings Council, Historic England, National Heritage Lottery Fund, Dioceses||Simon Linford, Mark Regan as SSL Workgroup lead,||Senior Stakeholder Workgroup making good progress. Profile increased with Church Buildings Council, Historic England. Workgroup Leader needs to be replaced.|
|6.2||DACs||Improved focus on bells and ringing at DAC level|
|6.3||Improve understanding of bells and bell ringing with the clergy and with evangelical churches||Clerical Guild to develop “The Theology of Ringing”|
Information sharing on successful evangelical towers
Recruitment campaign for young people at evangelical churches?
|Clerical Guild||Work is in progress |
More to be done with the evangelicals but strong link made with the evangelical Bishop of Ramsey.
|6.4||Bell Sunday||One Sunday a year to be designated ‘Bell Sunday’ on an international basis.|
Can for the basis of recruitment but generally raise awareness:
* Ringers all go to church
* Ringers do the coffee
* Bells on Sunday broadcast later than 6am
There are lots of ‘wasted assets’ which we could unlock and help meet some of our strategic priorities:
|Ringers who have given up||Persuade them to sign up to help with training on ‘no obligation’ basis|
|Peal ringers who don’t currently help anyone else||Ditto|
Or get them to subscribe to the Ringing Impact Bond
|Practices that lack critical mass||Encourage clusters, i.e. groups of towers working together and sharing resources ad commitments. There are lots of good examples of this already so it may just be a question of making effective models better known.|
|Redundant bells, especially rings of 3 and 4||Move them to establish rings of bells in schools or youth centres? Highly controversial!!|
|Ringers who are not encouraged to ring better||Not a lot can be done directly – this comes from leadership and organisation structure|
|Sending the elevator back down too far||The point here is that training is most efficient if ringers help the levels not too far below them. Black zone helps Red Zone, Red Zone helps Blue Zone, etc Leaders probably need to go down two levels.|
|Money locked up in Bell Restoration Funds||This was highlighted to associations in February 2021. There is £4.5m in BRFs, representing 10 years expenditure.|
No sign of any action taken as a result of that although it raised awareness and some BRFs working hard.
|Money locked up in branch/district and association General Funds||Start by identifying how big an asset this is. Is there anything to be gained from looking at this collectively?|
Money no object
Move redundant bells into schools or places where ringing training, particularly of young people, can be encouraged. There is a pending trial project that will do just this. Conservation Trust is also interested in improving those rings which have potential to be ringing centres by repurposing non-significant rings of 1-4
Build secular ringing centres (Birmingham is already designing one with the hope that it will be built in a public park)
Have a fully staffed ringing development office – could be at the NaRC
Pay good teachers to run more courses
Set up a small group to investigate how we might change the whole basis of the funding of ringing.
What could we do if we had income of £500,000 a year?
How could we persuade ringers to pay a meaningful annual subscription that would put ringing on a level playing field with other skills and activities?
What could we do that might persuade a seven-figure philanthropic donation which might cover major capital infrastructure projects such as new training centres? Money is easy to find but the purpose of it needs to be clear. It cannot just pay people – donor like to pay for infrastructure.
Reconsider the ‘Ringing Impact Bond’ idea for payment by results for ringing training.
Online Dove – we could provide more and better ways for ringers to find ringing opportunities, location based, app driven, expandable in due course to include information about practices. This can build on the power of the Dove database.
Bellboard – great resource but could do with a mobile app
Strava-style app so you can follow people rather than search all of Bellboard
(Colin Parker’s idea presented at ART Conference a couple of years ago)
Apps generally – ringing is probably not as good via handheld devices as other activities.
None of this particularly ties into the Strategic Objectives other than that they help meet the needs of ringers, which in turn makes ringing more fulfilling and helps stop people giving up.
Could there ultimately be a single platform that supported towers, ringers and performances, enabling ringers to make connections between all three? Other platforms develop when existing services are in adequate, which has led to a fragmentation of information.