A Report on the current state of developing trends in bell ringing and recommendations to the Central Council on how it might respond to these developments.
In 2000, the Central Council meeting, at Bury St. Edmund’s, adopted the following resolution:
That the Administrative Committee should set up a working group (1) to ascertain the current state of ringing and the developing trends; and (2) to give their views on likely future developments and how the Council and ringing associations might deal with these developments.
This reports the work, conclusions and recommendations of the working group. There are twelve recommendations covering historic records, training, recruitment and training of young people, Church and Clergy, installations, and the image of ringing and ringers.
Michael J de C Henshaw
Beverley & District Ringing Society
Ely Diocesan Association
Patricia M Newton
Oxford Diocesan Guild
Barry F Peachey
National Police Guild
Stef J Warboys
St. Martin’s Guild for the Diocese of Birmingham
Summary of Recommendations
Historical record of the ‘state of ringing’
There appears to be little organised data available on the ‘state of ringing’ from which trends may be derived.
Recommendation 1: That the Administrative Committee construct the framework under which an historical record of the ‘state of ringing’ may be developed.
It would appear that Ringing Centres offer the best opportunity for developing ringing training in line with modern training expectations and potentially an effective mechanism for the dissemination of good training practice.
Recommendation 2: The Central Council should continue, and if possible extend, its efforts to encourage and support societies in the development and use of ringing centres.
Recruitment into ringing and training of ringers appears to be very healthy, but there appears to be a significant decline in the number of young people entering ringing. It is considered that this will have a detrimental effect in the long term. The Children’s Act would seem to have had a negative impact on the training of young people.
Recommendation 3: That the Public Relations Committee should form a proactive, specialist group to promote good practice in application of the Act in towers and guilds, and to facilitate a consistent approach by diocese in relation to ringing.
Recommendation 4: That the Education and Ringing Centres Committees help Societies to develop fast-track training courses for young people and that the Public Relations committee develop appropriate mechanisms which societies may use to recruit young people onto such courses.
Recommendation 5: That the Public Relations committee develop promotional material and events (that may be locally delivered) specifically targeting young people.
Recommendation 6: That the Editor of the Ringing World be requested to introduce a regular feature for young ringers.
Recommendation 7: That the Education and Public Relations committees investigate the ways in which the Council and/or local societies may better support university guilds.
Clergy and Church Relations
The Clergy are generally supportive of ringing, though it is not a high priority relative to other activities and aspects of Church life. The maintenance of good relations is imperative and requires constant vigilance. Many Clergy are inadequately informed on matters relating to bells, bell ringing, and ringers.
Recommendation 8: That the Public Relations and Publications committees should produce a concise information booklet about bells and ringing which can be distributed free of charge through the ministry training centres.
Recommendation 9: That the Public Relations committee work with appropriate societies to establish applicable training activities at ministry training centres.
Recommendation 10: That the Public Relations committee develop an initiative to promote awareness among ringers of the need to, and means of, fostering and maintaining good ringer-clergy relations.
Whilst data on number of unringable towers etc., is available more specific data on standards of maintenance and the state of repair of installations does not appear to be available. Such data may be helpful in targeting funds and assessing funding requirements.
Recommendation 11: That the Towers and Belfries committee consider the merits of a detailed survey of the state of repair of bells installations nationally and take appropriate action based on those considerations.
Image of Bell Ringing
The image of bell ringing is disadvantageous from the point of view of recruiting young people and possibly the wider public (i.e. outside the congregations and immediate Church contacts).
Recommendation 12: that the Public Relations committee carry out a feasibility study into the marketing of ringing and management of its image in the public mind, and consider further action based on that feasibility study.
The following appendices provide a more detailed analysis of the data collected than that presented in the Summary Report:
Appendix 1: Summary of Ringing Roadshow Questionnaires
Appendix 2: Annual Reports Investigation
Appendix 3: Trends in Ringing
Appendix 4: Universities Questionnaires
Appendix 5: The Church and the Clergy – Trends towards Secularisation
The final appendix provides a copy of the questionnaire used at the Ringing Roadshow:
Appendix 6: Trends Working Group Questionnaire