Learning The Ropes: Achievement Award

Highly Commended: James Ellis and George Ellis

George and James Ellis are 9-year-old twins. They were born after the LtR scheme was first launched. They completed the LtR Scheme in 198 days (George) and 233 days (James) respectively, ringing their final quarter peal for Level 5 together on Boxing Day. For some time before ringing this final quarter peal, their skill levels have exceeded the scope of the LtR scheme. George is ringing Stedman and James is ringing Cambridge Minor.

It isn’t all about what these boys can ring, it’s how well they can ring it. Their striking is excellent – they can really hear their bells. If there’s an occasional dropped backstroke, within a very few moments they are back in place. Very little has to be said to them about striking.

Both boys had an initial go at learning to ring in 2019 aged 6, however, progress at that time was slow and, as the nation entered the first lockdown for COVID 19 in 2020, neither was able to ring independently. Wind the clock forward to Christmas 2021 and they wanted to give it another try. Their dad took them to Barton under Needwood, where James did well and was hooked, however, George, who is quite a bit smaller than James, found the bells too difficult and promptly gave up.

In April 2022 James started coming along to the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing and things really started to move from there. Once James started bringing home certificates, George had a change of heart and really gave it a go and was soon in hot pursuit of James. Amazing as James’ progress was, ringing the 6 quarter peals required for levels 3 to 5 in 6 months, it is overshadowed somewhat by George ringing them in 2 months.

Both boys are highly motivated and ring nearly every day, their enthusiasm for ringing seems to have no bounds. They are very fortunate to have a dad who has the experience to be able to select good practices for them to attend and is happy to drive them almost anywhere within a 30 or so mile radius of their home.

They are both very competitive so their final quarter peal to complete Level 5 had to be carefully planned with both boys ringing inside so that there could be no bragging rights about who finished first. But, having said that, it should be noted that James could have completed his Level 5 around a month earlier, but he wanted them to complete it together, so he waited for George to catch up.

They are both very determined and able to concentrate much more than you might imagine most 9 year olds to be capable of. Because of his size, George has developed a beautiful ringing style which means he copes very well.

It is not easy to say how the boys are managing to learn so quickly and so well. Having a dad that can explain ringing very well to them and is able to answer all of their questions is undoubtedly a major advantage, however, even he doesn’t know quite know how they are managing to learn such complex things with what seems like so little effort – and are able to ring them. Andy (dad) asked them how they were learning things and they suggested they were transferring skills learned from a gaming platform called Geometry Dash. Whatever they are doing it is working very well. On George’s first attempt at Stedman, Simon Linford said, “I’m not easily impressed, but…”

Their talent has been recognised and quite an impressive number of people have been involved in helping their progress (that might be better phrased as keeping up with their progress) and it has been of great benefit that their precocious requests have not been ignored or dismissed. When one of the boys says “I’d like to ring Cambridge”, you know that they will make a really mature attempt at it, even though the last time you saw them ring they were trebling to Plain Bob. I have included a list at the bottom of this nomination of some of the people who have been involved in teaching and mentoring the boys. It is by no means exhaustive.

The boys are regular attenders at Brumdingers (Birmingham’s youth ringing group), Worcester Young Ringers, and have been regulars at practices at Packington, Brinklow, Harborne, Smethwick and Brierley Hill.

Currently they don’t ring on Sundays as they spend some of the weekend with their Mum who is not a ringer.

Recently, both boys and their dad appeared in video by Historic England about Brierley Hill bells https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00pweEHzydA they appear from around 5.43. This a really good representation of ringing and you can see how much the boys enjoy their ringing.

Teachers and mentors:

  • Clare McArdle
  • Moira Johnson
  • Tom Griffiths
  • Steve and Janet Horton
  • Tim Sunter
  • Simon Linford
  • Diane Awkati

I am proud to have been a part of the team that have helped George and James to make such breathtaking progress and I am pleased that the catalyst seems to have been joining BSoBR and following the LtR scheme. I am sure that these boys should be destined for great things.

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: Clare McArdle