16th September 2015

Ringing Trends

The Ringing Trends Committee has the objective “To identify, evaluate and record trends of relevance to church bell ringing for the purposes of guiding Council policy”.

In the past the committee has gathered data from several places. These include a survey in 2007-8 on nearly 12,000 ringers, which highlighted the major trend being the ageing ringing population: only 10% were under 20 and 40% of ringers were over 60, in sharp contrast to a similar survey in 1988 in which 20% were under 20 and only 13% were over 60. A number of Council initiatives have been involved in generating debate and discussion as to how best to move forward as an Exercise. But there are still a number of questions that people need answers to: What has happened to the ringing community over the last 7 years? What are the reasons why young ringers quit or don’t join? What can we learn from other pastimes and hobbies which have been confronted by shifts in the age of their membership? How do ringers feel about some of the proposed remedies? What new ways of organising ourselves and our teaching can we consider and trial? The committee has the ambition to conduct a number of initiatives to answer these questions.

Reports

Committee membership

Background

A Trends Working Group was established by the 2000 Central Council meeting to develop an effective strategy to address the perceived negative trends in ringing. In 2002 it published the report Trends in Ringing. The first of its 12 recommendations was:

  • That the Administrative Committee construct the framework under which an historical record of the ‘state of ringing’ may be developed.

The Trends Working Group had found that, although there was a great deal of data that might have indicated trends, it was neither comprehensive nor organised. Consequently the Group used some limited surveying and joining of disparate data to identify trends. However, most of the twelve recommendations required further substantiation of the data from which the trends were derived.

It was clear from experience of previous surveys and of the Trends Working Group that there would be sufficient work to justify the establishment of a permanent committee. This, as opposed to periodic working groups, would provide consistency in data collection and analysis which could assist the Council and the Societies to be more effective.

Subsidiary benefits would include an improved ability to respond to requests for funding, and a more detailed and accurate record for future historians to draw upon.

At the 2004 Council meeting in Colchester a successful motion on behalf of the Administrative Committee paved the way for the establishment of the Ringing Trends Committee at the 2005 meeting.

For the year-ends 2002 through 2007 the Towers and Belfries Committee published an analysis of total and unringable towers by region. This shows a trend of gradual growth in the number of ringable towers, demonstrating that the decline of ringing could not be related to the availability of ringable bells.

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