The Slapton Belles – disappointment and delight!

First the disappointment.The original target was to have the bells at Slapton rehung in time for the Armistice Centenary on November 11th.That target was looking increasingly unrealistic as time went on and a lot hinged on the Heritage Lottery submission.Unfortunately we now know that Slapton’s bid has been rejected.I have to say that, from reports I have read or heard of, I am unable to detect any common thread or criteria with Lottery-funded bell restorations.Some projects which (and I emphasise that this is my own personal opinion) seem more deserving have been unsuccessful whilst others perhaps less deserving have been successful.The repercussions of this still have to be debated.

Anyway, to come to progress of the team as a whole, it has gradually settled down to six ringers who have persevered thus far.Some have dropped out for various reasons and we hope they will return in due course.Wednesday evenings have become the de facto Slapton practice although some occasionally come on a Tuesday.With a group of this size all learning together, progress is relatively slow, but it has been a time of gradual consolidation.Everyone has done some call changes, place making, etc, and the Slapton Belles now regularly take part in service ringing at both Marsworth and Mentmore.

The highlight – hence delight in the title – was undoubtedly the weekend of 10th & 11th November.On Saturday we had a team outing to four local towers, at two of which the bells were half-muffled in anticipation of the following day’s ringing.This gave opportunity to try bells with long draught, a relatively heavy ring and a very light ring, plus the experience of a very oddly-tuned ring of four bells with a very short draught and plain bearings!It did become apparent that, whilst perfectly comfortable on Marsworth’s easy-going bells, some ringers needed further tuition to cope with these situations, so a “style workshop” is being arranged to help address this.But it was a successful and sociable day, and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.

Then we came to Sunday, the culmination of the initial target of the Slapton Belles, to ring for the Armistice Centenary, albeit not on their own bells as originally hoped.Four were able to participate in service ringing at Marsworth, whilst three later came over to Mentmore to make up a team to ring the bells briefly there.Then all six participated in the 12.30pm open ringing at Marsworth.We kept it simple, but that didn’t matter.It was the taking part in a national commemoration that counted.The Slapton Belles went home (or to the pub) on a real high.

Richard Booth, Marsworth