What if you want to ‘get out there’ to recruit people in places, such as shopping centres, fetes and festivals? One
of the obvious options is to borrow or hire a mini ring – a small,
mobile belfry with 6 or 8 bells which can be erected anywhere so that
members of the public can ‘have a go’ and teams of experienced ringers
But with hire costs of a mini ring being around £150 for a day, how do you maximise the potential of its presence at an event?
Make sure you allow enough time and recruit enough local assistance
to assemble the ring – you may need to start early so that it’s all up
and in working order ready for the fete to open. Your helpers will need
steel toe-capped footwear, tough gloves and sturdy clothes.
Make sure that you have enough experienced ringers to give regular demonstrations of change ringing throughout the day.
Get there early and practise ringing a few touches – ringing on a
mini ring takes a while to get used to, the bells are tiny and quite
different from tower bells. If you can ring them confidently, it’ll be
much more impressive than the so called ‘experts’ spending the first 20
minutes grappling with out of control bells.
Organise some display boards with information about change ringing
on tower bells so that people who are waiting to have a go have
something to read.
Have plenty of leaflets with your recruitment information on, so that anyone who is interested can be given one as they leave.
Have a notebook to take contact details of anyone who expresses an
interest in trying out tower bells. If it’s a child who wishes to learn,
take a parent or guardian’s email if possible.
You’ll also need plenty of people who can teach ringing, to stand
with someone whilst they have a try, ensure safety and answer any
questions about learning to ring.
Have someone standing nearby during the ringing demonstrations to
prevent the public from talking to the ringers during the touch, and to
answer any questions they might have.
And some things to avoid
Just let people randomly come along, put 50p in a bucket and clang
around on the bells by themselves. The noise is awful and will easily
disperse any potential recruits who might have been interested.
Organise the hire of the ring, but then fail to put in place a
follow up plan to refer potential ringers to. Just ‘go along to your
nearest Church’ isn’t likely to generate much response, and assumes that
their nearest tower has both an active band and someone who teaches
handling, sadly not all towers do.
Make your ringing demonstrations too long. A 5 minute touch is ideal – if you launch into a 720, people will wander off.
Hiring a mini ring can be fun and there are many well documented
cases of it working really well as a recruitment aid, but as with any
open day or event, it’s the work that goes in afterwards that really
helps to recruit and retain ringers.
Ringing on a mini-ring
The bells on a mini ring don’t usually have a stay and slider board,
so they are rung up at the beginning of ringing, usually with one pull.
This also means they ring down very easily, so whilst on tower bells you
can get away with taking one hand off to wave at someone or scratch
your nose, if you try this with a mini ring, your bell will be down
before you know it.
Also, break the habit of a lifetime and try to resist calling ‘stand’
at the end, because nobody can. The bells are just brought down to