Although the Worcester Cathedral young ringers come from quite a wide geographical area, they have taken this “nom de cloches” as their activities come under the safeguarding umbrella of the Worcester Cathedral Guild of Ringers.
Adults are generally there for safeguarding purposes as well as to run the ringing, but quite often the youngsters run their own practices. This provides them the opportunity not only to nurture and grow their own ringing skills, but to develop leadership skills in their own right.
There has been no need for a specific recruitment drive so far but this may become necessary at some point in the future to keep the numbers up. Many of the members of the group are the children of ringers or have come in as there are other young ringers in their own towers who already attend. Others have joined because they have heard about the group and its growing reputation. Whilst it does vary slightly, attendance is steady with any ringers who leave (e.g. off to university) being replaced with new younger members. It is super that previous members return at holiday times to keep in touch. The fact that they get together to ring every week is also an important aspect of the group. They look forward to each ringing session and this helps keep the retention levels high.
During lockdown, they themselves arranged to meet up online (there was always an adult present online as well). This kept them together when they couldn’t meet face to face. They made full use of Ringing Room and were able to carry on improving, and when the lockdown was lifted in 2021, this progress continued and they were able to put these new skills into practice in the tower.
Last year they all went to a bowling alley for their Christmas treat, and one of them won a cuddly toy on one of the amusement machines. This is now known as “Strike” and is the group’s mascot.
Some members of the group were invited to appear live on BBC Hereford and Worcester local radio. This was done twice, once as a live telephone interview, and the other occasion was live in the studio being interviewed face to face by the presenter. This kind of thing can be very nerve wracking, but they came across very well, speaking clearly and enthusiastically about ringing and how much they enjoyed it.
Although they have competed in the RWNYC for several years, they have never won. Their intention has never been to set out to win, just to take part in the most successful youth event that there is, to do their best and to have fun, which they do!
The group is very lucky to have the use of St Martins in the Cornmarket every Saturday morning. They are perfect bells for the youngsters and this is a key factor. They are also given the chance to ring at Worcester Cathedral once a month and have been specifically asked to ring as a group for Evensong service several times a year. This is quite an honour on these challenging bells, and several of them have been able to ring round the back end, including the tenor.
The standard of ringing at a typical practice session varies between rounds and call changes (on 6/8/10 bells as necessary) right up to Cambridge Minor. There have been many notable “firsts” over the years, from just ringing unaided for the first time up to calling extents of doubles or touches of minor. They support, praise and encourage each other and a number of them have now rung many quarter peals and some peals with support from other experienced ringers.
There are regular outings to other local towers. They even went to London as part of the Worcester Cathedral band’s outing, and rang at Bow and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Our thoughts for next year are to arrange some ringing outings and suggest to the church that they may like to promote this to their local area/ schools inviting young people and their parents to come along and see what goes on. This is another way we can promote youth ringing wider than our own group.
There have never been any problems within the group to overcome, nobody has broken a stay, and none of the youngsters have ever been upset for any reason. There have never been any issues with discipline. Its a supportive and confidence building environment and we all have a ‘can do’ approach.
Some of the group are joining other youth activities, such as the Young Ringers Association and the Liliputters Guild and help out at Ringing courses e.g. Hereford.
The overriding aspect of the Worcester Cathedral young ringers is that they should always enjoy themselves and they certainly do.
If we were successful in winning this award, then we would invest the prize money in a professionally made recruitment video aimed at young ringers, for example scouts, guides, D of E, Young Farmers as well as the schools we have already mentioned.