What gets people into the tower?

Knowing what has worked for others will help you focus your efforts on effective recruitment methods and spend less time on those that don't. Traditional routes into ringing such as the Church and family are being replaced by friends and larger scale recruitment drives including tower open days. All advice is subject to the usual health warning that every band and community is different, with different links, different needs and different aspirations.

At the 2017 ART Conference a selection of ringing teachers (sample size = 83) who were mainly recruited in the 1960s and 1970s were asked what got them into the tower to learn to ring. An online poll of Learning the Ropes ringers (sample size = 65) who have mainly been recruited during the past five years was asked exactly the same question.

We are seeing a shift away from recruitment through the Church and family, towards larger-scale recruitment events such as ringing friends and general appeals for new ringers including tower open days.

Current Teachers
New Ringers
Member of the Church 31% 14%
Ringers in your family 22% 8%
Through a friend who is a ringer 15% 23%
Heard the bells and went for a look 9% 11%
Scouts, Guides and D of E
5% 5%
University Society 3% 2%
Tower open day 1% 14%
Through school 1% -
Publicity (internet, social media, poster, TV and radio)
- 3%
Public appeal for new ringers - 22%

Online requests to learn to ring

At ART we receive more than one learn to ring enquiry a day from around the UK.

There is a disconnect between what potential recruits are asking for and what has traditionally been provided. In some ways this is due to the general public projecting their knowledge of how other team or group hobbies and sports are taught onto bell ringing. However it is also tells us about people's expectations of a hobby in the modern age. We shouldn't ignore that!

I am very interested in finding a beginners bell ringing class for my mother and myself.

Training Courses and Classes

Over 50% of enquiries come with an expectation that ringing is taught via training courses or classes.

The offer of one-on-one tuition in this circumstance will in most cases be much appreciated. However there is an assumption that there will be a social side to the training, so make sure you integrate them into the band as soon as possible. Getting a quick lesson before the main practice then transitioning to a few goes at rounds later on, probably won't meet their expectations. ART also receive enquiries from ringers who have started learning to ring during a general weekly practice but are keen to make much more rapid progress - they ask for intensive handling lessons, say they are happy to pay for tuition and are usually willing to travel, so they must be keen!

I wondered if there was a course that I could enroll my husband on as a Christmas present.

Experience Days and Gifts

Requests for experience days and gifts are quite common.

Whilst intriguing, they can also be a bit puzzling to know what to do with. We know that learning to ring takes a long time and requires commitment from both the ringer and the teacher, whilst the request can feel a bit flippant. But think what you are being offered - money and a potential recruit. Although it is a bit counter-culture why not sell red-letter days to raise funds and why not give a day's taster session to see if you can get the new recruit hooked? It has worked for others! They also work as a recruitment method with a day's bell handling lesson sold at an "auction" leading to new ringers joining the band.

I'm interested in an introductory session of bell ringing for a group of about 10 people, can this be arranged?

Group sessions

We get rather less of these, however as bell ringing is receiving more press coverage it is something that people are considering for team building events. Just as for the experience days, this is a way to raise funds and why not give a day's taster session to see if you can get one or more new recruits hooked?

A chance conversation

I went to a concert at the church where I now ring, and the person sitting next to me asked me if I was interested. Over two years later, and I'm still learning!


My sister got me into ringing. She was always enthusing what a sociable and challenging thing it was to do. She loved the thought that the bells she was ringing could be heard all over York. She made lots of new friends and, having caught the bug, travelled all over the country seeking out new churches to ring at as a visitor. She became interested in church architecture, history and bells. She really was hooked.

I asked her if she thought I would be any good and that Christmas she bought me "The Bellringers' Bedside Companion" as a present! All fired up and keen, I joined my local band and so my journey into bell ringing began.

Multiple triggers

I finally started to learn in my sixties. Retirement left me more time,and hip trouble left me unable to cycle (which used to fill up my Sundays).

A couple of specific triggers were having a go at a mini-ring when visiting Lincoln Cathedral and hearing via the Village Newsletter that our local church were desperately looking for new ringers. So I plucked up courage and enquired, and it has gone from there.

What's next?

» Return to the recruitment and retention home page

» Lots of ideas for getting people into the tower

» Intensive training – why, what and how

» What has worked well – what teachers said at the 2015 ART Conference