The Ringers

The Ringers #

Typical ringing chamber

Figure 1: Ringing chamber

Administration #

Annual Meeting #

Hold a meeting when all officers are appointed. The appointments may be subject to confirmation by the tower authority. Consider whether a maximum length of tenure of any office is appropriate. The simplest manner is to consider all offices resigned at the annual meeting. Ideally, meetings should be held annually. Others may be held as required. The agenda should be distributed in advance together with a request for items to be included in any other business. An agenda is meant to keep a meeting on track.

The person chairing the meeting should be aware of the focus of the meeting and not allow digression. They should be aware of the anticipated timescale and keep to this. The chair may not be one of the ringers. In a religious institution the incumbent is a good choice. A church warden or PCC representative may be a suitable alternative. In a tower within a non-religious setting, a representative of the tower authority would be a good choice. Such examples offer impartiality and enables the chair to meet the ringers and hear about the activities of the ringers.

A sample agenda for an annual meeting.

Appointment of Officers #

Further details on the appointment of a tower captain. Any appointment should be made in agreement with the tower authority. The officers are there to run the tower, provide points of contact and to relieve the pressure on one individual. The potential roles may include:

  • Tower Captain. Overall responsibility.
  • Ringing Master. Runs the ringing.
  • Secretary. Looks after the administration.
  • Treasurer. Looks after the funds and expenditure.
  • Steeple Keeper. Looks after the installation.
  • Social Secretary. Looks after the non-ringing events.

If there are a number of ringers attached to the tower, it is a good idea to engage as many members as possible. There are plenty of additional roles which may be used e.g., Deputy, Secretary, Instructor, Conductor, Librarian. Roles, especially deputy, instructor and conductor should not undermine the authority of the tower captain or raise expectations of future election to other posts.

Calendar #

Maintain a calendar which is publicised to all, including the tower authority. This may be printed or held by some electronic means. The calendar should list:

  • The weekly, monthly schedule.
  • Annual dates e.g. ringers’ dinner, tower outing(s), AGM.
  • Special events e.g. particular Saint’s days, (church) patronal festival, fetes.
  • Public Open days, e.g. heritage open days.
  • Training days, teaching sessions when not a practice night.

Consider when to ring and when not to ring. Occasions to ring include Sunday services, weddings, funerals, church events, national events, patronal day, local festivals and traditions. It is worth compiling a list for your tower. Occasions not to ring may include Holy Week, see the “Ringing Forums” discussion.

There are proprietary apps available that might be of use in arranging a calendar, e.g. WhatsApp, Band.

Arranging Ringing #

If you are not used to running ringing, doing so can seem daunting. There is no need for it to be so. You are going to ask certain ringers to try and ring certain things. This means you have to judge who can ring what and what they will find useful or, ideally and, enjoy. No one gets that right all the time. With practice you will get better at it. Further suggestions on how to run a ringing session.

Perhaps the most important things to remember are:

  • Ringers are volunteers. They are at the session because they want to be.
  • Ringers are human. They have good days and bad days. What they can ring well one time they might struggle with the next.
  • Ringing is a team activity. How well we ring and how much pleasure we get from it depends on how well the band rings; not just on how well the individual rings.

The following are a series of tips to running ringing. Not all will be applicable to you and the ringing that you are running. You do not need to remember, let alone master, them all when you start. You will discover which work in your unique circumstances. There is no standard tower nor standard ringing session. With that in mind here are some tips.

Know your ringers #

This is not always possible if there are visitors. Generally you need to be aware:

  • Why your ringers come to a ringing session.
  • What their skill level is.
  • At a practice what, if anything, they want to improve on.
  • If there are visitors you don’t know then ask them if and what they can ring. Suggest some rounds for them to ‘get a feel of the bells’. When they ring, judge for yourself how accurate their statements were.

Young ringers in action

Figure 2: Young ringers in action

Purpose #

Decide what you want to achieve, both as a band and for individuals. If you can, publicise what is to be rung and why, a few days before each session. As far as attendance and performance allows, try and ring what was advertised. If you were unable to ring what you said, briefly explain why at the end of the session. Remember the ringers are volunteers, the degree to which you can structure a session will vary with the band and with individuals. Some ringers may come to sessions mainly to get out of the house and socialise as part of a group. They may well be happy to get better at ringing, but it may not be a prime consideration. On the other hand, some may want to progress their ringing more. Having some, if only loose, structure to a session should help keep more people happy as they can see there is something in it for them.

Recruitment and maintaining a band #

Further details can be found at Guidance notes - recruitment and retention (CCCBR).

There are resources available at CCCBR Publicity material resources. These include:

  • Recruitment Leaflet - designed for distribution to the general public. Printed copies are available on request.
  • Tower Open Day poster - to be used for promotion of such days.
  • Porch Notice - to display essential information about ringing at the tower.
  • Engaging with the Public - useful information for engaging the public with ringing and any ringing-related activity taking place.
  • Publicity Flyer: ‘Bell Ringing is fun and …’ - This leaflet was produced by Sue Hall, originally for the Derby Diocesan Association. It is downloadable and customisable.

The following CCCBR guidance is available:

Teaching and developing visiting other towers, striking competitions, special practices.

The Association of Ringing Teachers provides a structured set of guidelines.

Safeguarding #

See information contained at Formalities - Safeguarding.

Safety #

See information contained in Health & Safety.

Social #

In many groups of ringers there is a social side to the ringing. This may invove such things as:

  • going for a drink (not necessarily a pub) after ringing.
  • holding a regular dinner, typically at Christmas time.
  • outings to experience different bells, towers and areas of the country. Some suggestions for organising an outing.
  • outings without ringing content.

Subscriptions #

These may be required for the individual tower or the local society. There may be others, such as a tower subscription to The Ringing World.

Teaching #

This may include:

  • handling skills.
  • developing listening skills.
  • call-changes.
  • methods to all levels.

The primary source of information is ART.

Visitors #

Is there an agreed policy for the number of visiting bands, how long such ringing should last and any special considerations around timings. The latter may particularly apply when the bells are intrusive. It is to be hoped that visiting bands always try to perform well.

The Guild of Clerical Ringers document (CCCBR) covers some of these topics from a clergy point of view.

Image Credits #

1Ringing room at Great Barton, SuffolkPhoto: CCCBR archive
2Young ringers in action at St Bartholomew, NettlebedPhoto: CCCBR archive
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Disclaimer #

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, neither contributors nor the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any activities undertaken based on the information provided.

Version 1.1, March 2023

© 2023 Central Council of Church Bell Ringers