“Great day. I learnt a lot on the Module 1, but how can I find someone to teach when our little village church is in the middle or nowhere!” These words were heard often after various members of the Dorset County Association of Church Bell Ringers had completed their first ART Day Course last November in Charminster. The same was heard again after a second Module 1 Day Course in February. So, taking the bull by the horns, we decided to come up with a way to help our twenty Module 1 teachers find the necessary learners they required, whilst at the same time recruiting new people to ringing, which is the remit of the Ringing Remembers programme.
As luck would have it, whilst a couple of us were at a local events meeting, we came across the organiser of the Kingston Maurward Agricultural College Open Day and knowing this event was to encourage country crafts and courses at the College, I plunged in and enquired if they fancied a stall with a difference this year. As they were eager to hear more I suggested a mini-ring … ″A what?″ came the reply and thus followed an explanation. Our second stroke of luck came in the shape of one of our ringers in the DCA (Janet Collins) who knew the keeper of the Stallpits mini-ring. After several e-mails to Tony Crabtree it was sorted - the bells were available on the day we required. Tony also kindly agreed to travel down from Oxford the evening before so we could set up early on the Sunday morning.
The middle part of this plan involved some work in contacting various ART teachers in Dorset (including Richard Ellis, Andy Smith, Howard Bowering, Janet Collins, Debbie Phipps, Cathy Neyland and the Lytchett Matravers ART ringers) and putting together a list of volunteers for the day to keep the ringing going and allowing the public to come along and have a go. Obviously we also asked our young ringers from East and West Dorset (organised by Hilary Child and Sue Carter). Knowing that ten thousand people had gone through the gates of Kingston Maurward for their Open Day in 2017 it was hoped we might be able to recruit the sixty ringers lost during the war in Dorset (which is our target as part of the Ringing Remembers initiative for this year).
The third piece luck was that the weather held for us on Sunday 24 June and we were able to set up the mini-ring at 8 a.m. and then bask in the glorious sunshine all day. The whole thing would have been impossible without the help of ringers from all over Dorset and with the Salisbury Diocese Guild working alongside us too. Plenty of toddlers and young children wanted a go, as did some people who said, “I did try this once before when I was younger but gave it up!” Those who had interest or flair were invited to give us their details on a specially prepared slip so that we could contact them and invite them to come and see the real bells at their local tower with a view to ‘having a real go’. In total we collected just over thirty forms by the end of the day, but some of these were couples, or parent and child and even an entire family who are home schooled and wanted a new interest and learning experience to share together! More importantly the ringers who attended all had a tiring but “thoroughly enjoyable day” too.
So, if you want to have a go at recruiting, this is the recipe we would advise:
A pinch of willingness and enthusiasm
A handful of ringers of mixed ages and abilities
A few lbs of bells (tenor no more than 5lbs 14 oz)
10 spoonfuls of ART teachers
heaped tablespoons of enjoyment
50g of Ringing Remembers and other leaflets to hand out
A sprinkle of cheerfulness
100g of demonstrating and helping throughout the day
Mix together in a flat field with a cup of sunshine, and top with a quarter of peal to complete!
Dorset County Association
Kingston Maurward College, Dorset
The Stallpits Ring
Sunday, 24 June 2018 in 31m (5lbs 14oz in E♭)
1260 Plain Bob Doubles
1 Robin J Mear
2 Janet M Collins
3 Andrew G Smith
4 Ellen R A Smith
5 Tony Crabtree (C)
6 Nigel D Pridmore
1st on a mini ring for all except 5. (Please note 4 out of 6 were ART trained)