In search of ART in Yorkshire

Teachers from four towers in Yorkshire have been busy teaching new ringers using the ART Training Scheme. Here’s the latest news of what they’ve been up to.

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Belfry-cam, handbells and the benefits of mutual feedback.

For more than half a century the bells at St Marie’s Cathedral have been rung during term-time by students from the Sheffield Universities Guild of Change Ringers. Recently there has been an initiative to start a new band from members of the congregation. Recruits have been taught at various towers in the City. Elaine Scott, accredited teacher from Ranmoor writes the following.

In January this year the local Catholic church asked us to help with teaching some recruits for a new band. We ended up with seven people who wished to learn being taught alongside our own learners, with some others who might come later.

As St Marie’s are difficult bells, we decided to teach the new ringers at St John’s, Ranmoor. St John’s has the advantage of a simulator and the ability to tie all the bells. We also have a good set of cameras which allow ringers to see the bells, including watching the stay approaching the slider. The 10 bells make it possible to teach on several bells at once. As well as myself, three other ringers in our band come along to help.

We have practices on Monday and Thursday evenings for two hours. We usually have four beginners and up to three more advanced learners. We aim to improve the style of the advanced learners and give them more confidence and control of the bells.

A typical learners’ practice: after a safety talk, I explain the way a bell rings with help from the others and our model bell. We then demonstrate ringing up, watching the bell on the camera and stand the bell at backstroke. We usually teach on the 3 and the 5, both of which have good pictures of the stay and slider on the video screen.

We then take the learners through exercises such as backstrokes and pulling off at hand. While this is going on we teach the more advanced learners on the back bells and the treble. We go through various things: how to stand, how to tie the knot, hand ring exercise and taking coils. I usually get the more advanced learners to do most of this under my supervision. One of hopes is that they will be able to do their own teaching in time. They are nearer the learning process and remember the difficulties they had.

Halfway through, we swap and something different – ring handbells, explain call changes, demonstrate ringing Call Changes and Plain Hunt. The latest thing is to get them to call us to make changes, us being the number of ringers there.

Our beginners are now at the stage of being safe to ring a bell with minimal supervision. At the start of each session they raise the bells and stand them at back. They then turn the bells over and stand at hand. We start the session with rounds using sound from the simulator, including however many ringers are present. We then go back to single handling with the sound off and individual tuition with everyone ringing silenced bells. We swap bells and try different weights. We also try standing at hand and back several times in a row. At the end they all ring down, the more advanced ringers sometime try following each other.

Every couple of months we have a tied-bell session on Saturday mornings where any local ringers can come along for extra practice. Several of our own new ringers, plus those from different towers attend.

Four of the St. Marie’s new ringers have passed their Learning the Ropes Level 1 and got their certificates. We did a shared assessment so that each of them gave feedback to each other as well. Some of the feedback was very good. They can spot problems even if they cannot correct them themselves.

St Mary the Virgin Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire

A new simulator, plenty of visitors and teacher accreditations.

The team at Sprotbrough have raised funds to pay for and install a simulator which will be put to good use as the teachers are working with plenty of new ringers, all of whom are progressing well. As well as teaching the Sprotbrough band members, new ringers from Doncaster Minster also attend practices supported by their teacher, Jay Downes.

Sprotbrough’s new ringers include Noah who has progressed particularly quickly through the first two levels of the Learning the Ropes Scheme and is working towards quarter peals for his LtR Level 3 in the next few weeks.

The Doncaster team includes one ringer who is working towards his LtR Level 2 and four more who are on the verge of completing their LtR Level 1 bell handling.

Sprotbrough team are also teaching several more ringers from nearby Aldwick le Street, so this is a great example of collaboration between local towers which benefits the wider area. Helen Nichols has recently become accredited for Module 1 – teaching bell handling. Other teachers in the tower are working towards accreditation in the near future. Watch this space!

All Saints’ Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

Three separate practices, training new teachers and sixteen booklets to sign!

Northallerton has strong ties with many local towers, including Brompton – a recent installation of the redundant light eight previously at Denholme, West Yorkshire. Jennie Town writes: we centre activities at Northallerton where we have three practices a week:

  • Monday on the front 6 using the simulator, with people attending from Ainderby Steeple and Danby Wiske as well as our learners.
  • Thursday is our main practice and is now 2 ½ hours long!
  • Fridays, we are teaching a band for Barton where they are augmenting to six.
  • We also hold a practice on Tuesday at Brompton.

We are using the Learning the Ropes scheme for all our learners except those from Barton. Obviously we follow the same teaching principles for them, but we are concentrating on the best way to make them safe and self-sufficient when they move to ring at their own tower.

Three of us have attended Module 1 and Module 2F courses (Jennie Town, Hayley Bradley, Heidi Bradley); Sandra Shoyer has attended Module 2F; Gabriel Bradley and James Town have attended Module 1. Jennie has also attended a Module 2C course for completeness. Of these, Jennie Town is an accredited teacher and Assessor for both modules; Hayley, Heidi and Sandra are accredited for Module 2 and James Town will shortly be assessed as a teacher for Module 1.

On the LtR scheme we have two people who have completed Level 4; two who have completed Level 3; four others have completed Level 2 and eight learners who have completed Level 1. Given that some others have started on the scheme and then given up, there has been quite a lot of paperwork! This makes a staggering sixteen books for me to sort through at practices (although not everybody is there at every practice, so some booklets go back into the bag). Most of our current learners are adults, but the variation in age is between ringers in their mid-70s to a couple of 10 year olds, one of whom has already completed Level 2 after only 6 months ringing.

St Andrew’s Kildwick, West Yorkshire

Hot on Bellboard, Hot Metal and a Prizewinning Scarecrow!

Chris Wright writes that auite a lot has been happening at Kildwick. Some of this has been in conjunction with other towers in "The Worth Valley Ringers" cluster that comprises of (mainly) Oxenhope, Haworth. Keighley and Kildwick. Here’s the news from Kildwick.

On the LtR scheme, during the last 12 months (from August 2017), Kildwick has awarded five LtR Level 1 certificates, four have been awarded their LtR Level 2 and one their LtR Level 3. In total, we have 13 people on the LtR scheme.

  • Six enrolled in April 2017; all are ringing – apart from one who has gained LtR Level 2, but has badly injured her shoulder (not while ringing) and is awaiting surgery.
  • One enrolled at the end of June. He's passed LtR Level 1 and is going like a train!
  • Six enrolled in May. They are my MiniRingers – an after-school club. Several of them are interested in moving on to the main band now that they have left the school. None is up toLtR Level 1 yet –we do lots of other things as well as ringing!

During the year, we've hit "What's Hot on Bellboard?" twice now. One was the week where the kids’ "Rounds on Four" came in second, after Richard Burton's Superlative Max (though I think that excluded peals). The other was a very passing mention of a quarter for my 70th birthday (24 September last year) which had lots of "firsts". I'm working towards our first Kildwick quarter. We're not ready yet –but we'll see!

From a silent tower in March 2017, we are now ringing regularly for Sunday services and have quite a busy practice. Several people are finding it to be a congenial practice for the not-so-skilled and so we have a number of Plain Bob Doubles ringers who are joining us and greatly increasing our own capabilities.

Around half of the band are becoming regular ringers at Keighley. This again is increasing the repertoire and there's a good spin-off for us. We now have a band that is ringing well enough to ring six bells for a wedding and (as mentioned above) the prospect of a quarter of Plain Bob Doubles is no longer an impossible dream. We're going to give it a try at the end of August and see how we get on!

The MiniRingers is quite special. It's a group of 6 to 8 youngsters from Year 3 to Year 6. As well as spending some time learning to handle a church bell, they:

  • Ring the Ellacombe chimes
  • Ring tunes on handbells and our own home-made hand-chimes
  • Ring changes by "dancing" on a marked carpet
  • Take part in competition and concert, both ringing tunes and change ringing on the mats
  • Cast their own bells in their own moulds. (They don't actually pour the molten metal, I do that – it's quite a fun risk assessment!)

Oh, yes ... we couldn't enter the Sunday Service striking contest this year – too many were away (including me). But we DID enter and win the Kildwick village scarecrow competition last summer!

And there’s more ...

The good news from Yorkshire doesn’t stop there. 2018 has already seen several ART Day Courses in the county with teacher accreditations at several towers. LtR certificates have been awarded to ringers from towers including at York Minster, St Wilfrid’s and Roos. Also, the Young Ringers team (known as the Yorkshire Tykes) came a very respectable third out of 22 teams in this year’s RWNYC striking competition.

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Neil Donovan, ART Tutor