Geoff Horritt is the local organiser at the Weston Hills Ringing Centre (WHRC) an ART Hub, and Ringing Master at Sandon & Wallington. He is involved in all forms of training for ringers from initial handling up to Level 5 LTR across the benefice of Weston, Sandon, Wallington and Rushden, in particular at Holy Trinity Church Weston, the centre of the WHRC. Training has been taking place for around 5 years, and has been more structured since 2015.
Teachers involved in the training with Geoff (Art Tutor) include:
- Richard Clements (ART Associate Member)
- Shelagh Cox (ART Member)
- Jo Schurch (Attended ART Module1)
- Don Salisbury (Attended ART Module1)
- David Marlow (Art Associate Member and attended Module 2)
Approximately 30 recruits have been trained in total, ranging in age from 12 to 70. In 2018 some form of training beyond the normal Thursday practice night has taken place in most weeks. Supportive links with the Knights Templar School, teaching handbells at the local primary school, has shown encouragement and good public relations.
The initial objectives set out in 2015 were to build a training Centre at the tower of Weston to provide focussed training from handling up to Level5 LTR and beyond, to serve the local towers in the Benefice, and then be extended to the District. In addition two local towers at Sandon and Wallington were to have single bell sensors installed. These initial objectives have been met this year with the installation of sensors on all bells at Holy Trinity Weston, and the setting up of two work stations.
The formal arrangement for an ART hub has been put in place, The Weston Hills Ringing Centre (WHRC an ART Hub). The sensor at Wallington is installed. In addition a mobile frame and Saxilby dumb bell have been built and tested. Of the 30 new recruits who have been taught for local towers (20 this year alone), two trainees reached Learning the Ropes Level 5 in 2017 and attended the Birmingham Masterclass.
The hard work and effort over the last 5 years has resulted in considerable success particularly this year.
Specific qualities and achievements in relation to Recruitment:
- Use of all available tools.
- Frequent publishing articles in parish magazines, local newspapers, and sharing articles between authors.
- Presence at Church Fetes with advertising posters in churches, village halls etc., with business cards including contact details given to anyone showing an interest.
- Engaging the support of clergy.
- Tower Open days. A visit by St Christopher's school Baldock and other local schools on an ad hoc basis.
- Encouraging local band members to look for possible recruits and persuading potential recruits to visit a local practice.
- Avoiding barriers when an individual’s circumstances change.
- Recruitment leaflets and posters in churches, village halls, etc.
- Advertising with contact details placed on church seating during special occasions where the congregation is expected to be larger - particularly school services around Christmas, giving the congregation something to read before the service starts.
- Keeping a list of all who have made contact or shown interest as circumstances change, e.g. a potential ringer kept on the list was persuaded that this year they could learn with other village recruits.
- Other potential advertising - developing an understanding how social media can be used. This avenue has so far been elusive but is still being explored.
- The successful Ringing Remembers campaign has perhaps shown us that campaign posters are more productive if they have a specific target date/activity.
- Recruits now being channelled to us as reputation for good practice grows.
Where did our recruits come from this year?
- 1 from Parish magazine article
- 2 from local newspaper publication
- 1 from contact details at church service
- 9 from direct contact
- 4 from Ringing Remembers website
- 2 walked in off the street!
The following has brought success:
- Following ART good practice. Learning the Ropes, certificates and most of all a focus on enjoyment, loyalty, being valued, and enthusiasm. Everyone should be valued as their skill set can be utilised in a local band; not just ringing skills, (one’s best recruiter may be the least skilled ringer). It is very rare to be able to keep a band of “high flyers” together, particularly if you want to keep training new recruits.
- All recruits this year are using the LtTR scheme and those reaching Level 1 and above have received their certificates. All LtR Level1 and above are members of the County Association.
- Flexible teaching times. School children are taught to handle between 3.00 to 5.00 after school or prior to practice time between 6.30pm to 7.45pm.
- Trying to involve non-ringing partners in social activities and understand their skill set. We have non-ringing partners helping with bell maintenance, a woodworker making boxes, clapper stays etc.
- Trying where possible to give the new recruit a task or function in the team.
- For youngsters it is important, nearly essential to have the support of the parents and to have a direct line of communication with the parent.
- Some form of payment for the tuition also seems to be beneficial to retention. In our case fees are made up of Association membership fee, LTR booklet cost, and a small donation to the Ringing Centre.
- Appoint a buddy, friend or mentor from the band where possible, or put two recruits together. The buddy’s job is not necessarily to teach but to be a friend and provide early feedback on how the learning process is progressing. Tower Captains and teachers do not necessarily have the sufficient time to talk to the new recruits.
- Early intervention on any issues is essential. The use of a buddy or friend is potentially more important with reduced contact between new recruits and instructors, new bands with their own practice nights etc. The whole dynamic of the tower can change.
Successes this year:
- All have been taught by Geoff Horritt unless otherwise specified.
- Young band ring for Armistice day service at the local war memorial.
- Mathew Dyne was taught at Sandon ten years ago and has now achieved London Minor capability
- Daniel Williamson was taught at Sandon five years ago and at Level 2 LtR
- Eleanor Williamson was also taught at Sandon last year at has reached Level 1 LtR
- Adam Caine, and Baillie Bruce were all taught at WHRC within the last year and achieved Level 2 LTR , and well on the way for Level 3.
- Two other youngsters were taught outside the WHRC. Nicholas Dyne who was taught by a teacher who attended an ART Module 1 course and Aiden Russell was taught by an ART member with help from WHRC personnel.
- Helen Inman, another of our young ringers, rings when she is back home from University in Bristol.
- A completely new band has been taught for Cottered. (see p1245 of Ringing World)
- Three returning ringers, one of whom needed a quick refresher session.
- All the others taught at Weston throughout the year. One of the new recruits had been on our “to contact” list for over 3 years. 6 new ringers taught this year and are now all members of the County Association. They have been visiting and ringing at other churches. They now have a fairly advanced project to add a sixth bell.
- All the new recruits are at Level 1 LTR
Other successes for Armistice Ringing Weston:
- John & Bella Skipper taught this year at WHRC by Richard Clements have reached LtR Level 1.
- Tom Mason & Jenny Wheatcroft also taught vy Richard Clements, within the last three years. Both reached LtR Level 2. Jenny is well on the way for LtR Level 3.
- Emma & Philip Bailey LtR Level 5 Sandon.
- Daniel Williamson, Eleanor Williamson as above.
- Sue Hall who was taught within the last three years is at LtR Level 1.
- Robert Wornham is just starting out, so not yet registered.
- Anne Reagn was taught this year and is at LtR Level 1 Wallington.
- Juliet Jags was taught this year and is ringing solo but not yet LtR Level 1.
- Emma & Bailey LtR Level 5 & proceeding on to LtR plus.
- Angela Coltman also taught this year at Rushden and at LtR Level 1.
- Stephen Pettyfer is being taught LtR Level 1 now, at Rushden.
- Clare Catton was taught this year and reached LtR Level 1.
- Only one new recruit lost this year and none in previous 3 years.
Weston Hills Ringing Centre (ART Hub):
- The Ringing Centre has been in existence for 5 years and is now an ART Ringing Hub.
- The tower has had a Saxilby Dumb Bell and computer over this period used for handling and initial training.
- Another Saxilby has been acquired (donated by Hitchin tower) which has been initially used for handling practice in the tower is now part of a mobile system.
- A frame has been built this year and successfully tested. It is now available for the WHRC and the District.
- Sensors have been installed on all 6 bells and training using Abel and BelTower has been used to get the trainees up to rounds standard for the 11th November Ringing.
- A formal meeting and application to ART has been successful in registering the Tower as a Ringing Hub.
- The WHRC uses John Thorpe sensors and has the capability of multiple work stations as well as silent practice with all bells tied.
- More training days are being planned for next year, with a specific training afternoon as part of the District progamme.
- Focused training has been in the district programme as well as specific training for individuals in the past five years. The setting up of the WHRC will make planning much easier.
- Focused training for two learners in a two-hour session with experienced helpers, where each learner will get 45 mins ringing each, from Plain Hunt to Cambridge Minor. This will be arranged by invitation, following a discussion with Tower Captains in the District.
- A listening course is under discussion.
- A training/social event for all new recruits particularly Ringing Remembers recruits is at the planning stage for early in the year.
- The Whiting Society will be invited to the Ringing Centre in the Autumn.
- Three new teachers attended an ART Module 1 course at Codicote in November and it is intended that the WHRC will help in their course completion:
- Philip Bailey – Wallington (LtR Level 5 last year) and WHRC secretary.
- Keveyn Hopkins from Stevenage who has regularly been to the Weston practice.
- Chris Coxall from Codicote will also be helped at the WHRC.
- We are already offering training days to the District and the mobile bell will be available for use locally. We are also teaching ringers for contribution to other churches.
The number of ART trained teachers in our district is significant:
- Geoff Horritt: Sandon Wallington RM / WHRC - ART Tutor
- Sheila Cox: St Ippolyts - ART Member
- Richard Clements: Weston - ART Associate Member
- Fiona Potts: Wallington - Art Associate Member
- Elizabeth Cranfield and Anna Gawley: Hitchin - ART Associate Members
- Alan Curtis: Royston - ART Associate Member
- David Marlow: ART Associate Member and ART Module 2 course attended
- Don Salisbury: Norton - ART Module 1 & 2 courses
- Jo Schurch: Baldock - ART Module 1 course
- Steve White: Rushden – ART Module 1 course
- Philip Bailey: Wallington (new teacher) Module 1 course November 2018
- Kevyn Hopkins: (new teacher) Module 1 course November 2018
- Chris Coxall: Codicote – (new teacher) Module 1 course November 2018