Old Brampton Church Bell Ringers - St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Old Brampton, Chesterfield, S42 7JG. 6 bells, 12 cwt. This is an all-age village church where young ringers form the majority of the band. In fact, since 2014 there have been more young ringers than adults in the band.
The band have one weekly two-hour practice; ring every Sunday morning; ring for weddings (10 in 2019); also for special events, meetings, etc. Young ringers contribute to church life in other ways, e.g. as choristers, servers, reading lessons, junior church. This keeps young people and their families involved and attracts new young ringers to the band.
Most of the young ringers have been recruited from the church congregation. When they are about 9, they are invited to learn to ring, and are attracted to it partly because they already know some of the other young ringers. This has a good success rate, with approximately 50% wanting to learn. Although not all do learn in the end, those that do tend to stay.
Although the intention was not to set out to create a youth group, the band has grown to have a majority of young ringers. Every year since 2014 there have been more young ringers in the band than adults. In the last five years, nine new young ringers have been recruited. Two young ringers have moved away and one has given up. All but one of the ringers who have gone to university are still associated with the band.
Recent achievements have included:
- Ringing for the Christmas Eve Crib Service for the last four years by all young ringers bands. Ringing by an all-young-ringers-band for the centenary of Save the Children.
- Ringing for D-Day 75 – half of the band were aged 13-16. Ringing for Notre Dame Paris included four ringers aged 13-19.
- A band of all Old Brampton young ringers entered the 2019 Newman Cup Contest.
- An Old Brampton young ringer (now alumna) was a RWNYC judge last year, rings in 12-bell competitions and is a leading quarter peal ringer (ranked 87 in 2019).
- One Old Brampton young ringer had rung in every RWNYC so received an award at RWNYC in 2018 and was interviewed for Blue Peter (but not broadcast).
They put their success down to several key factors :
- The young ringers take an active part in deciding what will be rung and have a go at calling. Ringing activities are varied, fun and inclusive for all abilities.
- Sweets and plenty of praise for good ringing or effort.
- Special ringing is usually arranged for all abilities to take part and achieve something special. There is an excellent relationship with the church and the people in the village.
- Co-operation with the church so young ringers can ring and sing in the choir for weddings. Doing extra ringing activities for promoting ringing or for enjoyment involving non-ringers. Parents and visitors are always welcome.
- The competition from schoolwork and other activities affecting attendance has been overcome to some extent by involving the parents in activities, making activities attractive for all and using paper handouts for homework/notices instead of just via emails.
- Regular coverage (achievements and publicity) is posted on Facebook (public pages for non-ringers and closed ringers groups) and occasionally in local newspapers/magazines and radio.
- The brand-new simulator is used for fun exercises to improve striking, self-correction and place.
- The group has linked into the wider ringing community as all of the young ringers are members of the Derby DA. Some attend Derbyshire Young Ringers. Old Brampton ringers have taken part in every RWNYC from 2011 until last year.
- 3 young ringers are now active in their university societies and cities. One is now deputy master of York CG and another is past master of Nottingham USCR.
- An Old Brampton young ringer (now alumnus) was a RWNYC judge last year, rings in 12-bell competitions, is a leading quarter peal ringer (ranked 87 in 2019) and is PRO for Southwell &NDG. The group’s achievements are shared with the ringing community on Facebook and in the Ringing World.
- The Tower Captain is involved with ART, through Fun with Bells and writing training articles for the Ringing World and ART Teaching Tips.
- The activities of the group aim to promote ringing to the wider local community as they have included ringing in their schoolwork: presentation, project and EPQ.
- Old Brampton wedding couples are invited to a practice night and see young people ringing with adults and have a go at backstrokes. This has proved excellent PR for showing what ringing is really like.
- The Tower Captain has a good rapport with the local media and does the church publicity, so proposed ringing and ringing achievements are communicated effectively to the wider community.
- The ringing evaluation scheme currently being used is Bell Club, which the young ringers enjoy. Ringers are taught using ART training techniques (The Tower Captain and two ringers attended an ART M1 course in 2019 and plan to attend a M2F/C course). The Tower Captain provides every ringer with goals and homework to help them progress.
Lessons learnt: keep giving out paper copies of events/meetings, useful information, diagrams and homework, as the young people tend to lose their copies, or they are not forwarded/printed from emails sent to parents.
Future plans and aspirations
- The main aim for 2020 is to help many of the young ringers to ring their first quarter peals. Having installed a simulator this year, they aim to improve striking, self-correction and place awareness with fun exercises.
- Being a church band, the focus is on ringing for services, always including as many ringers of all abilities as possible in ringing and activities.
- There is great potential for the group to contribute more widely to ringing in the future. The young ringers are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Emily, Rosie and Jacob (role models - at university or recently graduated) giving them the potential to make a big contribution to the future of ringing at university and in local societies.
- The older young ringers explain to the younger ones how ringing may help them to settle into university and are encouraged to help each other to progress. This will help them to become ringing teachers in the future, but is currently a necessity as many outside helpers are at a similar stage to the young ringers themselves.
- The two newest young ringers have now reached the necessary standard to join the Derby DA and will be proposed at the next meeting they attend. All of the other young ringers are members of the Derby DA.
- A band of all young ringers can now ring Plain Hunt on six together unaided.
- One young ringer rang their first quarter peal of treble dodging on the treble, with another young ringer inside.
- Some of the young ringers can now ring the treble to Plain Bob and are learning Plain Bob Doubles inside.
- Recent Facebook videos of them ringing for the Centenary of Save the Children and the 2019 Crib Service have received (to date) about 4000 views, over 160 likes/loves and many positive comments. A photo taken this year with five Old Brampton young ringers is now used on the CCCBR website home page, CCCBR ringing flyers and roller banners.