WHERE TO START
When you have doubts about the condition of your bells and their fittings, expert advice is essential. You can contact your Diocesan or County Guild of Bellringers who will probably have an adviser who will carry out an initial inspection. If only minor work is necessary, he will advise you how to proceed.
If major work is necessary, several firms of bellhangers or founders can be asked for a report and quotation. Where work includes augmentation or if there are problems with the installation, the P.C.C. can make a request to the Towers and Belfries Committee of the Central Council for an inspection and report.
Before proceeding further, it is essential that the full implications of the restoration are considered. Will other work be required on the tower structure or timbers? Will the clock mechanism cause problems? How can the bells be removed from and replaced in the tower? Such items, together with V.A.T. where applicable, and an allowance for inflation will give a total estimate for the restoration.
Consider too, how costs can be reduced by using voluntary or Training Scheme labour for some parts of the work, or perhaps engineering apprentices to construct the frame. At this stage, the Church Architect should be consulted and the Diocesan Advisory Committee informed of the proposals.
PROCEEDING WITH THE APPEAL
Establish a committee, preferably with a notable church or civic dignitary as chairman. If possible include someone who will be responsible for the technical aspects of the project, and representatives from local organisations who are likely to give support.
HOW TO COMMUNICATE THE MESSAGE
Formally launch the appeal with a reception and exhibition to which important local people (solicitors, bank managers, businessmen, councillors) and representatives of local organisations, the press and local TV or radio are invited.
Practical help and some financial support will almost certainly be forthcoming from the local Diocesan or County Bellringers Guild.
Applications may also be made to charitable trusts and to other grant making bodies including the local authority and English Heritage. The ‘Directory of Grant Making Trusts’ published by the Charities Aid Foundation may be consulted in libraries. Every local authority is empowered to hold a list of charitable trusts which operate in its area. In perusing these it should be noted that church bell restoration may qualify for grant aid under a number of headings. e.g.
- The Church and Religion
- Support for the Arts – bellringing may be regarded as an art as well as a science
- General heritage preservation
- Community activity
- Conservation of architecture – when structural work is involved and particularly when the tower is in a conservation or development area
- Conservation and repair of ancient bells
- Youth work – many young people learn to ring.
Other local towers, where the bells are in good condition, are often willing to help their neighbours by perhaps making a collection at each bell practice or organising a fund raising event.
IN THE MEANTIME
If your church has a band of Bellringers-
- ensure that the band is kept together whilst the bells are away for restoration
- that they continue to practice at a neighbouring church
If your church does not have a band of ringers-
- with the help of the local Bellringers guild and a neighbouring church, ensure that members of your congregation and community learn to ring
- so that when the bells are ready there is a local band to ring them.
SOME AREAS OF FUND-RAISING
You may have already started with the items mentioned above. It is important to involve as many individuals and organisations as possible. As well as organising major events, have a regular programme of small events to keep the appeal in the public eye. A fund-raising thermometer in a strategic location will be a topic of conversation and encourage people to do things for the fund.
DIRECT GIVING AND INCOME TAX RECOVERY
In many appeals, direct giving is the most important source of income. It will come in response to the appeal brochure, from gift days, collecting boxes in public houses or shops, interest free loans, regular collections of say 10p per week by a number of collectors from groups of people, weekly or monthly contributions.
All money directly given by tax payers can be now have the tax recovered and added to the fund, this will add a percentage in recovered income tax to the value of the donation. In the first instance a form has to be signed by the tax payer making the donation thereafter all donations made by that person to the effort will be subject to tax recovery, so long as they remain a tax payer. However, a clear paper trail will have to be kept of the amounts given and by whom, to satisfy both the Inland Revenue and your Independent Examiner.
In appropriate locations, this can be very lucrative. Services can vary from providing lunches, cream or strawberry teas, or light refreshments, to full hosting of overseas visitors. The latter is a major project which requires very careful planning and involves hosting a group of (probably) American visitors for a period. Local people act as hosts and the visitors stay in their homes. Trips and entertainment are provided. Charges include a profit element and hosts give either the profit or total income to the restoration fund.
SALE OF CONSUMABLE ITEMS WITH SUITABLE MOTIF WHERE APPROPRIATE e.g.
Pens, pencils, erasers
SALE OF SOUVENIRS/HERITAGE ITEMS
A book/booklet of local history, church history, recipes, poetry etc.
Tape recording or video tape of church or village life
Wine goblets, crested teaspoons etc.
Etched copper plates, paintings or prints of church or village scene
Items made from old wooden bell frame (if not retained)
FUND RAISING EVENTS
Car boot sales
Wine & Cheese events
Teas for visitors
Car Treasure Hunts
Garden open days
Stalls at other events
Second hand books
Weekly draw 200 Club
Whist, Beetle Drives
Nearly New Shop
Sales of work
Runners in Marathons
Sponsored cycle or car ride visiting a number of places of worship
The more outrageous the event, the more people will often give!
By firms, local organisations or private individuals for specific parts of the work or fittings:-
Purchase of a bell
Cost of erecting a steel joist
Lowering a bell
Cost of providing a new wheel or headstock
Recasting of a bell
Cost of a section of frame or length of steel joist
A new bell or re-cast bell might be given in memory of a loved one and be appropriately inscribed.
SALE OF ITEMS FOR RECYCLING
Pull rings from cans
Bottles or cans
MORE DETAILED IDEAS ON FUND RAISING
Hold a ‘Festival’ week/weekend centred around your Church. Some thoughts on events you could arrange are –
Flower Festival, Special Church Service, Walks to places of local historic interest, Quiz evening, Concert, Barn Dance, Barbecue, Antique Valuation, Promises Auction, Gardeners Question Time etc., involve your local societies and clubs, the more enthusiasm you generate locally the easier your fund raising will be.
Do you have some attractive local gardens? Maybe people could be persuaded to open their gardens for a weekend, you could link this with an arts and crafts sale in your village/town, and maybe cream teas in the afternoon. Try to have transport available for people to get to the gardens.
Organise a treasure hunt and sell the clues, give the prizes and answers at a Barn Dance or Quiz evening the same day. Do try to involve local businesses in donating prizes.
If you are able to secure a few good prizes, maybe, a meal for two at a local restaurant, a bottle of champagne, a basket of toiletries etc. It may be worthwhile getting a raffle licence from your local authority and having tickets specially printed and selling them over a three month period, this can bring in several hundreds of pounds. Have the grand draw at a special event.
Whatever you do, please make sure that you publicise your events as widely as possible and well in advance. Ensure that your posters are eye-catching in good colour combinations, design a logo for your project and use it on all posters, paperwork etc. Local people will begin to identify with the logo and if they are sympathetic to your project, will attend your events.
Good organisation is the key to fund raising, cover all eventualities, nominate people to be responsible for specific events, share the burden everyone has a talent let them use it, include as many people as you are able to and it will become their project as well.
A brochure for free distribution to all houses and businesses in the parish is essential.
This can include:
Historic aspects of the bells
The importance of the message of the bells to the church & people
Bells as part of our heritage to be preserved and improved for future generations
The work to be carried out
The cost of the restoration
How people can be involved by using their skills
A message from the Bishop, Mayor or other dignitary
Other messages to be communicated include:
A bell restoration project can bring a spiritual renewal to the life of the parish
A bell restoration project gives an opportunity for people to work together and use their variety of skills
Bells in good condition will encourage people to ring them and enjoy the unique fellowship which exists among ringers.
An open day with conducted tours up the tower
An exhibition on bells and bellringing (perhaps in a Building Society window)
Give illustrated talks to local organisations
Write to former parishioners and those who have been married in the church during the last (say) 20 years.
Either with a covering letter or by personal contact, ensure that organisations such as Local Businesses, Rotary Clubs, Lions, Masonic Lodges, sports clubs, women’s groups, etc. receive a copy of the appeal brochure.
Money will come in small and large amounts during the appeal. Look after it by promptly paying it into an interest-bearing account. You will be surprised how much interest will be received during a period of two or three years while the appeal is in progress. If the money is looked after by the P.C.C., ensure that it is separately accounted for and that the P.C.C. has minuted that the money is for bell restoration.
If the money is held as a separate bell restoration fund, it is necessary to register it as a charity. This entitles the fund to receive gross interest (i.e. without deduction of tax), and to recover tax on Gift Aid donations.
It is the responsibility of Trustees to invest funds to best advantage. Trustees should look for a high rate of interest with security and availability. A cheque book is not usually a necessity. Funds may be invested in banks, building societies or the N.S.B. investment account with minimum formalities, but for certain types of investment, professional advice is required. (See booklet TP1 from the Charity Commission.)
Please contact the CCCBR Bell Restoration Committee
Last updated: 15 November 2015