The ART Conference comes to the "W and P"

Snowdrops, daffodils, catkins, thatched cottages, large smoking chimneys, topiary, Milkingpen Lane, Churn Close ... what did that have to do with ART then? Answer - we all meandered through this rural tranquility to arrive at the lovely Annual Conference venue!

A year or so ago, on behalf of the W. and P. invited Pip Penney to consider our Guild area for ART's 2017 grand event. I was delighted to make the invitation for a number of reasons; for one, it would give our own members a great opportunity to sample the huge variety of ringing resources and items of interest, on our own doorstep. It's been our pleasure to serve as host Guild and to do our very best to offer our hospitality.

It was great to join in ART's fifth birthday celebrations; there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful and not only that lovely cake, Pip! Impressive and encouraging news indeed that ART Tutors coached more than 600 new ringers in 2016.

We were reminded that ART's mission is simple ... "To improve the learning experience of new ringers".

There was so much on offer over the weekend:

  • without boasting too much here, masses of excellent food!
  • ringing on a simulator
  • improving personal ringing abilities - on tower bells and with handbells
  • reviewing new publications (I love the "50 Ringing Things")
  • enjoying seeing training DVDs e.g. Raising and Lowering
  • learning more about teaching in groups
  • hearing about University Associations
  • exchanging ideas with other members and supporters from different locations across the country
  • hearing from guest speaker, Mark Regan, how Worcester Cathedral Bell Ringers feature in Cathedral and local community life
  • being challenged by another guest speaker, Elva Ainsworth, asking us to reflect on our traditional bell ringing culture and whether or not we need to work on changing it to help sustain a healthy future for ringing
  • meeting new friends.

One of the many highlights of the programme for me was the Awards ceremony consisting of nine categories. Our Guild members were delighted to see two local entries - St. Michael's, Swanmore, Ryde, Isle of Wight, that received specific recognition from the Judges for teaching very young new ringers and Elizabeth College, Guernsey that won the School Group Award. I strongly believe it's important to challenge, encourage and reward.

I was pleasantly surprised at the great amount of interest in the method handbell training on Sunday. Why, I wonder ... that Culture Thing again Elva?! Like all the conference sessions, these were very well presented and much appreciated. Our own Duncan Loweth and Helen McGregor, from the Channel Islands, reminded us of the benefit to our tower ringing as a result of our handbell ringing. They certainly kept us focused and busy; it was great fun with definite progress evident. Ringers like challenges and rewards ... yes, you've got it, more food was on hand after our hard work! Rumour has it that several ladies from our Andover District enjoyed the handbell training so much that they are seeking to set up a new group in their area. Yay!!

So, what were my overall impressions? Just a few thoughts here then:

  • exciting
  • very enjoyable
  • really interesting
  • thought provoking
  • hard work
  • challenging
  • encouraging
  • inspiring
  • wonderful to see all the various organisations and individuals, voluntarily offering their expertise and enthusiasm, working so hard together for the benefit of ringers and ringing
  • so, great commitment - I'd like to get even more involved and share the ART vision further afield
  • I want to go to the next one!

On Saturday morning, Graham Nabb said he hoped that all who attended enjoyed themselves, exchanged ideas and had fun. He was not disappointed - it was marvellous and thank you, ART, for visiting us in W. and P.

Viv Nobbs
W. and P. Public Relations Officer