After ringing a quarter peal at Mitcham at the end of 2017, Kate and I were approached by the vicar, Father David Pennells, who told us the Mitcham bell ringers had retired mostly due to old age and would we consider teaching a new band there? We said yes so long as Mitcham did the publicity and recruitment campaign.
Father David was good to his word – in no time there were posters in the village and church, adverts in the local paper and encouragement at the Sunday services to come for trials! We held a taster day in July where the Mitcham people laid on refreshments and about 20 people turned up for a go. We signed up about 12 people and Kate and I and other ART teachers have been intensively training new ringers since August.
We’re very grateful for the support we have received from local and ART trained ringers who helped with the bell handling training and also other ringers who are now helping the Mitcham ringers to learn to ring rounds. Using ART bell handling methods as our base has meant the training has been safe, structured, and consistent, and this has really helped the ringers’ progression.
There is a healthy contingent of about ten learners; eight of whom have already passed ART LtR Level 1. They all cheer and applaud when a certificate is awarded! There is a returning ringer Paul Barry and we are very pleased to get him back. There is a great camaraderie amongst the learners and they all get on very well. The vicar, Father David Pennells, is also learning to ring and is a great source of inspiration to us all.
Mitcham bells received a comprehensive bell maintenance visit to ensure they were in good order for training purposes. The bells were clamped for the early stages of teaching bell handling but were unclamped in early October so the ringers can now hear what they are doing! The bells had been silent for some time, so we are having to be fairly sensitive with the ringing so as not to upset the neighbours.
We’ve since proposed eight new Mitcham ringers to join the Surrey Association. The ringers are continuing with Monday practices and Pam Donovan has agreed to run two Sunday mornings a month, so this is excellent progress by all. We very much appreciate the help from good ringers coming to help at the practices now the Mitcham band are ringing rounds and some are already managing Call Changes.
The photo is the Mitcham ringers and helpers ringing for Armistice Sunday. For the first time, we were able to ring rounds on six with at least three Mitcham ringers taking part.
Paul Flavell, Surrey