Learning The Ropes: Contribution Award

Runner Up: Cathy Neyland

It was evident quite soon after she joined Lytchett Matravers that Cathy was going to progress with her ringing development and make a significant contribution to the band; she has high aspirations, enthusiasm, initiative and a determined application to the challenge in hand.

Having achieved LtR Level 2 she was keen to become formally qualified and help the Tower Captain with managing and teaching the growing number of learners. She subsequently achieved accreditation for M1 and M2F. Cathy has managed seven LtR learners. Since Cathy joined the band in December 2016 there have been 18 new recruits and the training has been shared by the 2 ART teachers.

Cathy continues to improve her own ringing, she quickly moved on to method ringing making her own notes as she went along. She frequently visits other towers to gain more experience and takes advantage of the training opportunities offered by the Tower, Branch, Guild and ART, having attended at least 14 courses this year. As she progresses she becomes better equipped and more involved with helping the Tower Captain manage the tower and ringers. This includes helping with an extra Plain Hunt course each month and supporting the Tower Captain with their own extra method ringing practices which are now held 3 times a month.

When the 50 Ringing Things challenge was introduced Cathy was keen to give it a go achieving Bronze in October 2017 then quickly enjoying trying out the other challenges, subsequently gaining Silver in August 2018 then finally Gold in November 2019. By gaining these skills it really opened up the art of bell ringing to be more than just pulling a rope.

During 2019 the tower organised and hosted a number of fundraising events for our £30,000 bell restoration and tower improvements project. Cathy played a huge part in this including organising fund raising, social events and by being a key, hands-on member of our team when Taylor’s returned to install the new tower access, bells and refurbished fittings.

She supports the Tower Captain in organising and running the practices. She organises an annual ringing and social trip to Brownsea for the band and neighbouring tower and has run a rope splicing course. She was recently instrumental in arranging an assisted visit by a care home resident, an ex-local ringer suffering with dementia, to listen to Lytchett Matravers’ bells.

Cathy has been the prime mover in developing and utilising the new technology that the band currently enjoys (as a result of the fund raising for the restoration project), this has involved: updating and commissioning the tower’s new laptop with Abel software, making clapper clamps and requisitioning and installing new sound and projection equipment; installing and commissioning the multi-camera CCTV system hardware and software for viewing the bells from the Nave. After attending ART’s Simulator Awareness Workshop she has developed her own skill set and runs monthly, simulator practices, primarily for the development of tower members’ listening, bell handling and rope sight skills as well as practising methods. Some of these sessions are on a one-to-one basis. These sessions are very much based on the exercises from ART resources.

During COVID Cathy was a significant contributor in the band’s twice weekly Ringing Room sessions and in doing so gained her Bronze 50 Virtual Ringing Things in December 2020. She helped support one of our ringers who struggled with his computer using Zoom and Ringing Room. She also commenced regular sessions on Ding with other East Dorset ringers and continues to do so for extra practise.

The band has benefitted from increasing numbers of new recruits and whenever extra sessions are required she has always been willing to help tie the bells and help with the training thus moving the new ringers on quickly to be able to ring in rounds with the rest of the band. She has also taken some of the pressure off the tower captain by helping run the practices and indeed during 2022 the decision was made to have 3 months on and 3 months off thus sharing the band ringing master duties. This has benefitted both Cathy, Tower Captain and the band by getting experience for a longer period of time in running the practice and for the band to experience a slightly different approach. Cathy regularly attends all church service ringing and is able to help the band to produce a good performance for our congregation.

She is a regular attendee at Branch meetings taking a keen interest in ringing matters around the wider ringing community. Cathy took over the position of Branch Secretary in 2020 during which time she has, for example, improved the communications between committee and Branch members by increasing the number receiving emails direct rather than the previous cascading system.

I expect Cathy will move from strength to strength finding new ways to support the band, Branch and Guild.

Sponsored by the Ancient Society of College Youths


Winner: Darren Swancott

Runners Up: Wendy Archibald, Tilly Cooper, Katie Havenhand and Cathy Neyland

Nominated by: Debbie Phipps