The Sarah Beacham Youth Group Award

Winner: Cambridge University Guild

Our recruitment for the academic year began at the Freshers Fair with the Charmborough Ring. This undeniably makes our stall big enough, loud enough and unique enough that it’s pretty hard to miss. As well as making it very easy for existing ringers to find us, it gives a clear and exciting snapshot of what we do to thousands of people who’ve perhaps never even heard of change ringing before. Over the course of the two days hundreds of fair attendees are given a go at ringing, and we had around 150 sign-ups to our learners mailing list, as well as three existing ringers who now regularly attend the practices. The first weekend of term we ran four have-a-go sessions of an hour each, to which we had 32 people sign up. They got a first go on tower bells, and a taste of handbell ringing, learning to ring plain hunt.

Throughout the autumn term we have had three teaching sessions a week (on Thursdays and Fridays before the usual Guild practices, and on Sundays) attended by over 10 regular learners, and a couple of people joining later in the term, having heard about us through other learners. These sessions teach both one-on-one tower bell handling and start introducing learners to method ringing on handbells, with 8 learners having progressed onto plain bob with two bells by the end of the term. Since two of the teaching sessions are held before normal practices, around 6 of our learners have started coming to these and ringing rounds with others with a few progressing onto round and call changes.

One of the main challenges we face as a university society is the fast changing membership. This year we lost a number of regular experienced teachers between the summer and autumn term. To help combat this, we held an ART Module 1 day course in October, attended by 7 ringers. This ensured we had enough teachers to have one-on-one tower bell teaching for our well attended sessions.

As well as a clear focus on new recruitment in the autumn term, we had recruits from autumn 2021 continuing to learn. At the start of the term we continued to hold teaching sessions three times a week, which dropped to twice a week in the summer term, as most of the learners were comfortable handling and were getting more out of the regular practices.

Since we are a university society, our ringing is affected by the long holidays in between terms. For many new learners this means having no ringing if they haven’t found a home tower. To help combat these long breaks from ringing, we organised two bootcamp sessions in January to get learners back up to speed with their ringing, and one at the start of October before we launched into recruitment of new learners. Two of these learners rang their first quarter peals in both tower and hand in March 2022 and have now progressed onto more complicated method ringing.

In the spring term many of the learners were getting onto ringing with others, so many of the teaching sessions were predominantly ringing round and call changes with a simulator.

This October we also held a learners practice for those comfortable ringing rounds and call changes and wanting to progress onto method ringing. This was focussed on skills like leading, covering and progressions towards plain hunt. This was attended by five learners and plenty of other Guild members to help teach and ring.

We enjoy close links with the Society of Cambridge Youths, with whom we share a tower and ring with regularly. Students wishing to progress their 12-bell ringing are warmly welcomed at their weekly practices (around eight of the current student Guild regularly attend Youths’ practices).

We have many social events throughout the year. We’ve had board game nights, formals, pancake day, Christmas dinner and carol-ringing. The strong social presence of the Guild helps contribute to the friendly atmosphere in the society, and we think helps retain ringers as they enjoy the sessions they attend and spending time with the friends they meet through ringing.

Sponsored by the Sarah Beacham Memorial Trust


Winner: Cambridge University Guild

Runner Up: Worcester Cathedral Young Ringers

Nominated by: Lena van Dougen