Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

I read with some interest comments which appeared in your issue number 144, and which referred specifically to the North Cotswold Branch of the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers. I am at a loss to understand why this comment has been made at this time, since I am unaware of any great history of the branch producing new young ringers, certainly not in recent years. Nevertheless I am only too aware that a problem exists and that is why I raised the issue as an agenda item in one of our quarterly branch meetings earlier this year. What I would like to see happening, is for all the Churches within the Branch to act as a nursery for new ringers, young or not so young, to develop a village bell ringing team for all our churches, for each church to continue to develop the ringing skills of the team, and eventually to see team members attending branch practices to receive one to one mentoring.

However I would like to point out to your writer that there is a corner of the North Cotswold Branch, where much is being done to develop new ringers. In the last two years or so, a total of eleven people have been taught to handle and control a bell and beyond, so I already have the ringing nursery at Longborough. Two of those people have been adults and continue to ring when “life” allows. Three of the group are teenagers and whilst they are unable to join in weekly branch practice, they do ring for Sunday Services and so I have established a village team of bell ringers.

I have to be completely honest and point out that six of the original group were children and they have all walked away from ringing having reached the stage of ringing rounds. Two had already established themselves as having potential in a sport, and felt that they could not give their time to bell ringing, the remainder I suspect found the burden of being part of a team too much. However, undaunted, I am currently, with the help of a colleague, teaching two more young people who provide us with great encouragement through their enthusiasm.

So there are people out there if we are prepared to take the time to find them and importantly give them our time. Longborough is but one of the churches with ringable bells in the branch, now we need the other 25 to do their bit.

Just as a footnote to the above, at a Six Bell Striking competition recently held at Longborough, the winning team producing some excellent striking, included one ringer aged 19 years, one aged 22 years and one aged 24 years, and you do not achieve that level of ringing overnight. They have been ringing for some years. Yes they are out there, all we have to do is find them and teach them.

Denzil Spear
Chairman - North Cotswold Branch.
Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for allowing me to comment re the communication you received from Mr Denzil Spear, Chairman of the North Cotswold Branch, G&BDACBR, re the article in the last issue of the Newsletter: 'Mickleton NIL — Others 121'

Firstly my congratulations to Denzil and his success in recruiting young ringers at Longborough. This was admisrably noticed at the G&B North Cotswold Branch annual striking competition at Saintbury last year.

Yes, I'm envious of Denzil's achievements, and I bet I'm not the only one in the North Cotswolds! He obviously has a better way of attracting ringers than we certainly do in Mickleton. I personally have tried and tried over the years, as fellow ringers I'm sure would acknowledge.

For example, when I was Ringing Master of the North Cotswolds Branch I wrote to every Tower Captain advising them of our monthly practices and inviting them to attend. The response? NIL. I contacted local schools. The response? NIL. I wrote regular articles (and still do) for our excellent Church Magazine. These articles were aimed predominantly at the younger generation. The response? NIL.

I invited by personal letter all those who so generously contributed to my bell fund appeal and advised via the Church Magazine of an Open Day so that they could view bell ringing first hand. The magazine article invited younger people to attend. The response? Aged: good. Younger people: NIL.

A village trust of which I'm Chairman provides annually what the trustees believe to be very generous grants for education to pupils leaving primary school and those attending universities, colleges or apprenticeships, etc. On Saturday 2nd November 2013 we held a Service at St Lawrence Church, Mickleton on the occasion of the Trust's 500th anniversary. Again, I personally sent or delivered letters to recipients of grants and their parents (over 200) inviting them to attend. The bells were rung and the tower was open for viewing. Adult attendance: good. Young persons: TWO.

So the drive for new ringers over the years has been unsuccessful! I've probably 'over-answered' the original communication content. Sorry! In conclusion, I should point out that the article was written especially for the St Lawrence Church Magazine, hence Mickleton NIL — NOT G&B NIL. But you cannot deny printed facts, viz: The North Cotswold Branch membership: JUNIORS, NIL!

John Kinchin, Mickleton.