The Sarah Beacham School Group Award - Lerryn School


Our group consists of the teachers, parents and pupils of Lerryn Church of England Primary School and the Rector, PCC’s, ringers and volunteers of St Mary Bradoc and St Winnow churches.

Our project is primarily to grow our church, the benefice churches and the churches across the Diocese, to show people of all ages that church can be fun and that one way of doing this is through ringing bells. To this end, we take our bells out to where the people are and involve them in ringing and show the family friendly fun and fellowship we can have with portable and traditional tower bells.

We started with a structured plan with clear achievable objectives. We currently involve 30 junior ringers, and we have the same number of adult ringers of whom half are volunteers on this project. It is important that we achieve our objectives in a safe and thoughtful way. We take child protection and health and safety risk management seriously, and you will see that we now teach with the mini ring and dumbbell before moving on to the tower bells. We have another 34 year 5 and 6 pupils at two-other local primary schools who have asked to take part in the project in 2017 and 36 scouts and 14 cubs belonging to two scout groups who are starting the bell ringing badge in January and April.

With our school’s programme, we have two years in which to develop their interest in ringing. In a rural deprived area with no transport facilities it is often difficult for children who are interested in ringing to continue to ring when they move schools or as an after-school activity. But if they have had fun and enjoyed their time with us it is likely that they will return to some church somewhere and ring again in later life.

Similarly, with our scout programme, there are 2,636 scouts to target in Cornwall and we have six sessions to tempt them into continuing to ring at churches near them, and our measure of success is that they have undertaken the badge and know that ringing is an activity that they can continue to participate in.

Our intention is that later in the year on completion of the scout trial to approach the guide movement and seek their involvement.

We have publicised our success through television, radio, the guild of ringers and the Diocese Press Office.

St Mary Bradoc near Lostwithiel in Cornwall is equidistant from Truro and Plymouth and is typical of Britain’s small isolated sparsely populated rural parishes, with no civic amenities, halls, pubs, busses and no village or school. As a church, therefore we face the same running costs as our more urban parishes, but with only 139 parishioners. Our five bells had not been rung regularly for over 30 years and we restarted ringing in April 2012. Since then we have created our own ringing centre with simulator, full sized Dumbbell, 8 bell portable mini ring and tone chimes and hand bells. Funded by matched funding from the Diocese, individual donations, the PCC and with grants from our deanery and the guild of ringers. Over the last four years more ringers have rung their first quarters with us than any other tower in the Diocese.

In 2012, the PCC adopted an altruistic mission plan, that involves us partnering with others outside of our parish to grow our church and the churches in our benefice and across the Diocese. In doing so we have increased our footfall from 6 a week to over 100 and the utilization of the church from one use a fortnight to nine uses five days each week and the foundation to do this is through the use of our bells.

Our plan to reconnect with our community is to involve our three local primary schools, and to this end we approached Lerryn Church of England Primary School to run a pilot. This is a lovely small rural school situated in the small creek side village of Lerryn in a nearby parish. There are two classes and typically 40 pupils.

This link has been fundamental to the success of our overall project bringing in the school, their siblings, friends, parents and grandparents. Creating a profile across all age groups, engaging our two lost generations, happy links with other churches in the area, our junior ringers club and provided a link to our local scout groups. All our ringers stay to church. This has seen a growth in the social side of the church with barn dances, walks etc. in partnership with our neighbouring churches and school and a critical mass of people for fundraising and attending services securing the viability of our church.

Our junior ringers ring the tower and or the mini ring before services and the hand chimes during the service, many have been admitted for communion, and take a full part in the activities of the church. Our youngest mini ring ringers are aged 5 and the youngest tower ringers aged 8.

In 2013 we taught new ringers for St Winnow and formed a common band, but in 2014 structural problems with the tower made those bells unringable and 10 new lighter bells will be installed lower in the repaired tower in August 2017. They are designed to be part of our school and scout programme.

Two of our older young ringers have used the scheme to achieve their bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards.


Our project is primarily to grow our church, the benefice churches and the churches across the Diocese, to show people of all ages that church can be fun and that one way of doing this is through ringing bells. To this end, we take our bells out to where the people are and involve them in ringing and show the family friendly fun and fellowship we can have with portable and traditional tower bells.

“I like learning more skills and ringing on bigger bells. Also, one of the best things we got to do was be on Spotlight News. I think bell ringing is about encouraging us to go to church more often. We have lots of fun.”

Lerryn have the only school bell ringing team in Cornwall meeting every Friday and with the junior ringers at Bradoc currently account for about half of the young ringers in the Diocese. The school is classed as Good by Ofsted and at a recent SIAMs inspection as outstanding. The school is situated on a hill above the picturesque creek side village of Lerryn and consists of about 40 pupils taught in two classes.

Our project with the school started in April 2015 and involves those children in years 5 and 6 who we meet every Friday morning either to ring hand chimes or to ring on the portable mini ring of eight bells and occasionally the hand bells. The hand chimes are used to ring tunes, Hedwig and Star Wars being very popular and as they progress through the year they learn to ring and call Call-changes on eight chimes.

The mini ring is usually rung at Bradoc and the children are transported there by volunteers. Again, they learn to ring the mini ring and call call-changes.

“Learning new skills with my friends. Saying and telling people I have a talent by playing lots of music and being on TV while ringing bells.”

Thus, bell ringing has become an integral part of the school’s curricula. Teachers and parents from the school have learned to ring on the chimes and mini ring, and siblings and younger classes have expressed interest in wearing white gloves (we have a long waiting list) to ring chimes and bells. Our volunteers have become governors and parents and governors have become helpers and leaders and bell ringers in our scheme:

  1. In 2015 the pupils formed the Bradoc junior ringers club, meeting on Saturday morning and Monday evening at Bradoc church as a summer school through the holidays, it is so successful it in now year round.
  2. They rang hand chimes and the mini ring at Truro Cathedral for Bell open Day (See ringing world 5447 2 October 2015), and event to promote bell ringing in Cornwall.
  3. Raised funds for St Veep Bells using the mini ring and chimes at the school fund raising concert

In 2016 the pupils have:

  1. Been interviewed and filmed ringing the mini ring at Bradoc by BBC TV Spotlight South West regional news, in a news programme with the Bishop of Truro discussing examples of growing our church in Cornwall.
  2. Been interviewed at Bradoc and at the Royal Cornwall show by Radio Cornwall promoting bell ringing and growing our church
  3. Rung to celebrate the Queens 90th Birthday on the 8-mini ring and tower bells, with three calling call changes in and out of queens and one of them tolling 90 times and setting on the 90th stroke.
  4. Rung and shown visitors how to ring the mini ring at the Royal Cornwall Show. This is one of Britain’s big three day agricultural shows attracting visitors from all over Cornwall and Devon where 117,000 visitors visit the show. The school allowed pupils to come and demonstrate ringing (RW July 1 2015).
  5. Rung with and helped teach visiting cub packs on the mini ring as a precursor to our bell ringing badge
  6. Rung for weddings at Bradoc, St Winnow and Boconnoc on mini ring and tower bells. The mini ring engenders much interest from guests, often the first time they have seen bells ringing and comment on the young ringers ringing them. The guests are encouraged to have a go, particularly the children.
  7. Been admitted to communion before confirmation at St Mary Bradoc patronal festival all of whom were from the school or junior ringers club.
  8. Rung at the Biennial service for the ‘Saints Way Academy’ at Truro Cathedral with both the mini ring inside the cathedral and hand chimes in front of 1321 key stage children.
  9. We have one of the three youngest ringers in Cornwall to ring a quarter peal and the youngest to ring one on eight bells is from the Lerryn band.

The school are keen on community involvement and our activities are integral to achieving and meeting outputs for the national curriculum. The SIAMs inspector referred very favourably to the school’s achievements through bell ringing when judging the school to be outstanding. Ringing is embedded in the school ethos, whether at events such as fetes, school activities and when the school visit nursing homes at Christmas.

Taking the Mini ring to the Royal Cornwall with our school pupils enabled us to engage with the Cornish Scout movement and we have jointly developed a scout achievement badge for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts across Cornwall. This is to be trialled with two Cornish Scout groups and launched at the Royal Cornwall by the Bishop of St Germans in June 2017 and we have obtained approval and sponsorship from the guild.

Our partnership has meant that the PCC at St Winnow have the confidence in our ability to grow our churches and are installing a new ring of 10 bells sized to be rung by year 5 and 6 pupils in August 2017.

In 2016 we installed a full-sized dumbbell at Bradoc to better enable our young ringers taught on the mini ring to ring the slightly difficult tower bells, and this is now our standard way of teaching all ages, starting with the mini ring, progressing to the dumbbell and then ring the tower bells.

The head of school spoke at a seminar at the TDGR annual meeting about the benefits for the school and the fun that the children have and how it has involved parents as volunteers. See quotes in bolt italics.

In January 2015, we set out our aims and objectives in seeking funding from the Diocese and Deanery and all of our aims and objectives have been achieved and our expectations surpassed.

We have learned to be flexible in timing practices and allow for the many activities outside of school and therefore we have to expect missing children, but that is the joy of achievement and flexibility.

The greatest measure of our success is the delight in their faces, their behaviour and their enthusiasm and achievements coupled with that the two other schools now want us to partner with them and bring bells to their year 5 and 6 pupils, and two scout, cub and beaver groups want to trial the bell ringers badge in 2017.

The other great achievement is that the perception of bell ringers has been changed among the clergy, and what has been achieved in our project is recognised across the Diocese as a way of growing our church and supporting our community, the school Academy recognise the schools are supporting their community.

It was a great privilege to be asked by the management of the Saints Way Academy if the school could have the mini ring taken to Truro Cathedral and see Lerryn school band welcome the 1321 other key stage 2 pupils from schools across Cornwall, and see them ring ‘Panis Angelicus’, on the hand chimes as part of the service.

“Me and my friends love the mini ring and Bradoc Church is a lovely place to ring it. If you didn’t teach us we wouldn’t have a good opportunity of bell ringing. We’re going to miss it (Friday lessons) when we go to our secondary schools

Sponsored by the Sarah Beacham Memorial Trust

» The Sarah Beacham Memorial Trust

Winner: Elizabeth College

Highly Commended: Lerryn School