Brumdingers are based at St Mary's, Moseley in Birmingham.
The group practice on a weekly basis, following the Learn the Ropes scheme. There is a
strong emphasis on fun, with the youngsters having become a close social group. The group have just come to the end of their
2nd year having been first promoted after the Christingle service in December
2016, with the first practice in January 2017.
After two years the group has shown that it is sustainable, successful, and evidence of how ringing groups such as this,for young people, can work. The availability of more funds would help subsidise outings to broaden their experience and outlook.
After an initial recruitment campaign via the church and its Junior School, which attracted two recruits, the group has grown by word of mouth. Charlie Linford found a friend from school who had a ringing father, while other new recruits invited friends. The latest recruit is the little brother of one of the group, and the even littler brother is waiting in the wings.
The church was very supportive because teaching new ringers had been one of the reasons for getting the new ring of bells, which has a ground floor ringing chamber. Not only is this good for recruitment but it allows the kids to roam free during ringing practice and not feel cooped up in the tower.
Although we follow the LtR scheme, there isn’t overt pressure to do the exercises evert week or have too intensive a ringing session. The overall emphasis on all the practices is about having fun, and it is sometimes very difficult to get the kids back from playing after break. It is only a 1hr 15m practice, with about a 10 minute break in the middle for various chocolate based treats. We went for the ‘Cubs and Brownies’ slot – 6.30 to 7.45, which seems to work well for a post homework/ before bed activity. Parents bring them and have formed a social group in themselves – they all now stay and have a coffee and chat to each other.
We have only had one of the Brumdingers leave. One early joiner who had already learned to ring was three years older than all the others and didn’t quite cope with the general level of messing about! Since then no one has left the group. The average weekly attendance is seven.
In January last year we decided to enter the RWNYC. At that stage we didn’t actually have 8 ringers who could handle a bell, but it was a target to aim for. In the end, with the help of three older ringers from other towers, the Brumdingers went to London, didn’t disgrace themselves, and made a lot of friends. Provided the group stays together they ought to be able to win it before they get too old.
Although Brumdingers is a stand-alone practice, the importance of service ringing is clear to them. So as not to make it a chore, we have limited service ringing at the moment to one “Church Parade” a month, when the Brumdingers join the local band on Sunday morning. Their first public ringing was the Christingle service in 2017, when they proudly rang to a packed church.
The Brumdingers mascot, Simba, accompanies them on outings and youth contests. Each week, the leaders decide on one Brumdinger who has deserved a special award and they get to take Simba home for the week. Simba has now been replaced with chocolate medals (they are growing up!).
Overall, Brumdingers shows that if you make ringing fun, it is very much a children’s activity. Parents expect it to be run professionally, expect to pay, and are very supportive. Parents can be the best recruiters as they talk to other parents. Leadership of kids groups needs a different approach to adult practices, and an understanding of the mind of the 11 year old!
We are not considering more recruitment at the moment just because we would struggle with more kids than the number we currently have. This is likely to change as more of them get into change ringing and so we can introduce more variety. Expansion is likely to come from starting a new ‘Chapter’ of Brumdingers at a different tower.
We will enter the RWNYC again, this time without need for any outside help. All of the Brumdingers should have rung quarter peals by the end of 2019 and two of them are likely to have rung their first peal.
We are maintaining a delicate balance between the enjoyment of the group as a unit and wider obligations.
The monthly ‘Church Parade’ will expand as soon as the Brumdingers have become change ringers. The two who have started to go to other practices are discovering that they are actually very welcome and useful.
When BBC Newsround wanted to film some young bellringers ringing for Remembrance Day, Vicki Chapman put them in touch with the Brumdingers. A special practice was quickly arranged and the BBC came to Moseley to film it. They spent two hours with the kids, interviewing them all, filming the ringing, and put together a superb piece for Newsround. This was widely circulated and seen as a very positive piece.
In November, Charlie and Sara rang a quarter peal for their School annual service at St Alphege Solihull, promoted to and heard by the whole school.
Additional supporting evidence is attached in photographs, and also the presentation given to the ART AGM.
Under the Learn the Ropes scheme, we have had the following awards:
We are registering them all the LtR handbells so that they can progress their handbell ringing at the same time as tower bells. We do handbells during some practices when we have enough helpers. At this age progress on handbells can be quicker as the physical difficulty of the bells goes away.