Physical ringing during the pandemic feels like a being on a roller-coaster. Nevertheless we have been able to ring and will again in the future, as the pandemic dies down.
Keep an eye on the CCCBR guidelines and continue to take as many opportunities as possible to ring for key services and community events, even if this simply involves the tolling of a single bell. Potential benefits include:
When you can ring, try and involve everyone in the band. Even if they say no, they will be pleased to have been asked. On the other hand, if you don't ask someone, they might not want to return to ring with your band again.
Why not set up a rota to provide everyone with a chance to spend some time on a rope. Include
less experienced ringers, but remember that they may be nervous about
ringing a bell. Be encouraging to keep them involved. Perhaps suggest
they swing chime (this sounds better when ringing a single bell) to
build up confidence and provide appropriate support from a safe distance.
Many people are missing the sound of bells across our villages, towns and cities. Use
every opportunity to keep the local community informed about your ringing activities and publicise ringing. Why not post details
on local social media sites about when and why you are ringing, and
why it might sound different from usual? Don’t forget to add a picture
of socially distanced ringers, or live-stream the ringing. You could
also write an article for your local newsletter or parish magazine.
This may be a great way of soft launching a future recruitment campaign.
If it's not possible to ring your tower bells, welcome people to church by ringing (socially distanced) handbells outside the entrance to the church. You can ring methods or tunes – both sound nice – so its up to you, whichever you're most comfortable with.
People really appreciate the fact that you're making the effort to ring
bells for the service and for those of you who ring in a separate ringing chamber, there's the added bonus that people can see that you're real people – a great recruitment tool.
If ringers are spread too thin to have one band per tower then consider pooling resources and liaising with the local benefice or diocese. Offer to ring for key services at nearby towers (with an agreed risk assessment) if you have sufficient available ringers, and restrictions allow. This keeps people ringing and builds a great relationship with the Church.
If social distancing requires you to ring on four bells there's still lots you can ring, ranging from simple introductory methods for new ringers to some tricky methods which will be unknown to more experienced ringers.
Some bands are resisting ringing because of the social distancing guidelines that can make the bells rung sound a bit weird. Those who are ringing these unusual bell combinations have found that the appreciation given by the church and local community was a real surprise. The absence of bells has made people appreciate them more.
“One of the sources of great sadness for many villagers here during the first lockdown was the silence of the church bells. We have a very active team of bellringers of all ages at Lilleshall so we had become used to enjoying the bells pealing out every Sunday and then during Tuesday practices. When the bells fell silent, even the hourly chiming of the church clock stopped as if in sympathy.
After restricted ringing became possible again, it felt like part of the fabric of our lives was being put back. As the vicar, I was told many times how the return of bellringing was so much appreciated. To me, there are many sounds that speak joy into our lives and the peal of bells is among them. They can lift one’s mood, remind one of the joy of God’s love and also tell me that I’m late getting into church!
I am so grateful to all our local ringers for the skill, enthusiasm and energy they bring to what they do as, I’m sure, are hundreds of thousands or even millions of people all over the land.”
The Steele family - chiming four bells for service.
“It’s wonderful to hear the bells again, I’ve really missed them. I know it sounds different from normal, but it really gives me an extra spring in my step when I am walking to Church on a Sunday morning”
A selection of comments on the village Facebook Page following our return to service ringing in August, swing chiming three bells by a single household group:
“You have been missed”
“Wonderful. Welcome back”“
And following Christmas Day Ringing:
“Thank you. It was lovely to hear the bells”