Learning The Ropes: Achievement Award

Highly Commended: Dominic Johnson

Dominic came to St Mary Barnes (SW London) at the age of 11 with his older sister when his mother decided she would like to try bellringing. He was a delightful boy but quiet and unsure of himself. When learning to handle he always seemed really frightened of the rope and found it hard to put into practice what he was being taught, whether we gave him visual or verbal help or with different teachers. His sister shot ahead at that point which didn’t make it easy for him. We understood that he was also struggling somewhat with his schoolwork and often needed extra help.

However, he continued to attend with his family and after a while, he gradually improved. His mother explained that he had been spending ages at home trawling the internet for information about ringing and it seemed that he had found his own way of finding the necessary hints and tips, mostly on YouTube or other vidoes, which he could transfer to his physical handling in the tower. Once he could handle the bell correctly, he was immediately keen to progress with the next stage and to tick more boxes in his Personal Progress Logbook. He also gained valuable experience and teaching through ringing with the Association’s youth group, later known as the Surrey Strikers.

Separately, it was most interesting and encouraging to learn from his mother that he had generally gained a huge amount of confidence in all areas of his life, both at school and at home, since starting to ring. At school he had never enjoyed team sports but seemed very happy to mix in with our band of ringers (ranging from his age to over 80 years). He took great delight at the age of 12 (having already passed his own LtR Level 1 a while earlier) in being asked to present a LtR Level 1 certificate to the Head of Physics at a major Senior School!

Dominic’s mother came to ringing one day complaining that she could never get away from the sound of bells coming from Dom’s bedroom or even the bathroom! Apparently when at home he continuously listens to bellringing recordings. His mother declared him ‘obsessed’!

Prior to Covid, he had rung six quarter peals either on the tenor or treble but during the lockdowns he buckled down to his own online learning, using Abel and other programmes to practice when no other options were available. Immediately, once ringing opened up again, he was able to ring inside to Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles and Triples and four months later rang inside to Stedman Triples. He rang inside to his first peal in February this year and then by September successfully rang a quarter of Yorkshire Surprise Maximus on half-muffled bells at Guidford Cathedral.https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/search.php?ringer=do... His ‘obsession’ and self-motivation have served him so well in achieving his goals.

Still a relatively shy young man but with so much more confidence, Dominic has developed his own network of teenage ringing friends. He has organised outings and quarter peal days with them and other experienced ringers. He participated in the Ringing World National Youth Contest with the Surrey Strikers in 2019 and again in 2021 where they greatly improved their rating.

Dom is keen to learn to conduct and has done so successfully on four occasions for quarter peals and regularly calls touches during a practice.

I would thoroughly recommend Dominic for a Learning the Ropes Award for his determination to succeed at bellringing which he did by finding his own resources to overcome learning difficulties, even continuing this during the period of isolation from physical bellringing. He is a great example of how much can be achieved when someone is prepared to put in learning time away from the tower, rather than just rely on what they learn during a practice.

Sponsored by the Ancient Society of College Youths


Winner: Benjy Mallard

Highly Commended: James Ellis and George Ellis, Sarah Robbins and Dominic Johnson

Nominated by: Trisha Hawkins