Bellringing during a Covid pandemic
It has been a difficult year and had to cancel a few planned events including our ringing trip to Forest of Dean. However, despite the restrictions we managed to keep the bells ringing for Sunday service and tolled a muffled bell for Remembrance Service and Armistice day. We also tolled a bell for Captain Tom’s funeral and remembered all the other Covid deaths this year, our efforts were even mentioned on the local radio.
The ringing master of the Bristol Branch awarded Horfield Tower the ‘Achievement of the Year’ award, which we hope to officially receive when allowed. It was in recognition of ringing 2 out of our 5 bells for every post lockdown Sunday service, we used a rota to ensure that every ringer had an opportunity to pull a rope.
I have been appointed the Lead Recovery champion for the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers, to guide and support ringers across the district back into the tower as we ‘transition out of lockdown.’
We have attempted virtual bell ringing using the ‘Ringing Room App.’ Yes, there is just a thing! It has kept us connected but it is no substitute to ring with real ropes in the tower. The ringers are looking forward to ringing again, but it will take time to build our confidence and stamina.
Before lockdown, we had planned to ring a quarter peal to celebrate the birth of two of our ringers’ grandchildren, hopefully this will be achieved before their second birthday!
Easter Newsletter 2021
Are you ready to ‘Transition out of Lockdown’? Operation TOOL or (TOLL).
The Government restrictions will soon be easing, we all want to get back to ringing, but are you ready? You can find information on the CCBR website and their ‘Survival and Recovery Toolbox’ has plenty of practical tips.
Operation TOOL developed by the branch committee; it is a pathway with the following steps:
Things to do now: Contact your band, by phone, zoom catchups, ringing room or WhatsApp.
Is your tower ready: To perform bell maintenance checks, if needed and to prepare a Covid Risk Assessment.
3R’s Encourage ringers back to the tower, Refresh, Retain and Recruit lapsed ringers
Engage the public Announce the sound of the bells by either notices or leaflet drops in the local area.
Promote Ringing Support a Branch wide ‘Celebration Ringing Day’; it is hoped that all the bells will ring on the same day and time, date to be agreed.
Recruitment Train new ringers with an opportunity to do things differently. Future part of Operation TOOL.
Remember, that all the branch committee officers are here to support and guide all our ringing members. You are not alone!
Ultimately, it is about being respectful, kind and supportive to each other and to proceed slowly as we all need time to
build our confidence and stamina at our own pace.
Bristol Branch Committee 2021
Chair Chris Stanley
Ringing Master Simon Tomlinson
Deputy Master Jenny Goodall
Secretary Katy Murdoch-Davis
Treasurer Sue Bateman
Grants Tony Bulteel
Have you paid your Subscriptions Yet?
Please pay Sue Bateman as soon as possible and complete the Gift aid refund form if you can. Gift aid is free money from the Government. Your Subscriptions mostly go towards the Bell Restoration Fund; hence we all will benefit.
Meet the Committee Members
I am Chris Stanley and some of you may remember me from yesteryear as a young upstart in Bristol arranging quarters all over the place. After moving to the South East in my 20s to further my career in Pensions Management, I returned to Bristol about 3 years’ ago. Whilst away, I held branch officer roles with the Guildford Guild and Surrey Association, re-hung Colliers Wood bells, installed a new peal of 10 at Merton, and taught over 100 people to ring (conducting 15 through their first peal). It is now my honour and privilege to once again be a member of the St Mary Redcliffe Guild of Ringers.
I am an ok method ringer but have always really tried to focus on good striking and getting the best possible ringing out of the band available. My favourite method is Grandsire and I once conducted a peal of 6,000 Grandsire Doubles variable hunt with all bells as treble and all extents different – exhausting! I am also one of only two people to have rung a tower bell peal on 2.
I have missed ringing during lockdown and church life – having joined the St Pauls Southville merry congregation in 2019. Wanwan, Lilly and Michael have kept me busy and we moved to a new house last summer so I have had plenty to distract me. I organised a virtual Port tasting recently with 8 people – it was slightly weird via Zoom but a merry time was had by all.
Speaking of Zoom, we have held Branch committee meetings remotely which has worked well. This year’s awesome committee is working on several new initiatives, not least project TOOL … watch this space.
I am Simon Tomlinson. I first started ringing methods on handbells at the age of 9 during lunchtimes at school in Reading before progressing to Tower Bells at my local Tower in Wokingham at the tender age of 11. I came to Bristol as an undergraduate in 1985 and like many others never left. After graduation, I rang in the City and was Ringing Master at Christchurch and All Saints from 1992 to 1994 but after our children were born ringing took a bit of a back seat and I settled into the more sedate suburban ringing scene. I have never been a big fan of peals and have only rung 38 but I do enjoy quarter peals. I rang for over 50 a year, for many years, completing a number of series including the alphabet, the months and the Magic Roundabout Characters! Away from ringing, I work for Airbus as a Project Manager and Chartered Engineer and enjoy travelling, at least when we can. I have always been a strong supporter of the Bristol Branch to help ringers progress where there perhaps are not the opportunities in their own tower or ringing circles; there is nothing I find more satisfying than agreeing a goal with someone and then seeing them achieve it.
I am Katy Murdoch-Davis, married with two daughters and have four delightful grandchildren.
Since taking early retirement, three years ago from my professional role as a Chief Biomedical Scientist in Clinical Biochemistry at Southmead Hospital. I have taken on many flexible and part time roles; I am currently the PA to the Bristol District Chair of the Methodist Church and an exam invigilator at Bristol University and Bristol Grammar School.
I was brought up in a rural Hampshire village and as a teenager I sang in the choir for weddings and my bellringing career started after I learnt that I could earn more money ringing the bells. I ended up doing both and as I lived in a pretty village, we had several weddings every Saturday throughout the summer. I was a rich teenager! Oh, how times have changed!
I have had many career ringing breaks since my childhood and then started ringing again twenty years ago at Horfield and later became the Tower captain. I am proud to be a bellringer and it is a good way to keep mentally and physically fit. I love the fact that you never stop learning and I continually set myself personal goals…My current goal is to be able to ring a touch of Stedman with confidence.
Before lockdown, I had planned to ring a quarter peal to celebrate the birth of my latest grandchild, hopefully this will be possible later in the year and before her 2nd birthday!
Hi, I am Jenny Goodall (nee Pick), I have lived in Bristol since 2008 and have rang and supported towers in the city centre and suburbs. I was taught to ring as a teenager by my parents (who still teach learners in Cannock, Staffordshire, to this day).
I am currently Deputy Ringing Master of the Bristol Branch, having previously been a committee member and Treasurer. I am mum to Iris (2) and wife to Mark (a non-ringer -I have tried!) when at work a few days a week I am an Engineer.
I came to Bristol for work and found the ringing in social time a great compliment to that. My first ringing experience in Bristol was back in 2001 when I was Master of the UL and we came as a rather inadequate “competition” band and ended mostly enjoying the pubs. I had kind of forgotten this until I returned one day (post 2008) to The Commercial Rooms and looked up and remembered the ceiling, I was glad to be back.
When I arrived in Bristol for work in 2008, I first went to ring at Henbury when Mary Friskney was still at the helm. I supported the evening practice for a while and enjoyed helping learners, Mary ran a hard practice! She signposted me into the City ringing and I have done a bit of ringing in and out of the city since. I love ringing at Redcliffe when I can get there, although I was a student in London I had not really any 12-bell ringing until I landed in Bristol. Tony B was a great help in getting me to learn more 12 bell stuff and the standard at Redcliffe/ in the city generally blows me away. I am interested in ringing challenging methods but my real heart lies in good striking. Give me a simple method struck impeccably any day.
In more recent years, I have found myself gravitating in the week to the practice night at Horfield. Katy runs a lovely social and progressive practice and the team are just lovely. I enjoy supporting the practice with Derek Carr and more recently Robert Beavis who has also helped this relatively inexperienced band.
Becoming a mum in recent years has meant I have not done as much ringing as before but I see this as a temporary situation, hopefully a bit like Covid times. I miss ringing terribly; the exercise, the friendships, and the social life it provides.
I cannot wait to get back, although having a second baby might delayed this a bit longer. My long-term plans are to ring plenty, ring well, help and support teaching others, including my own children, hopefully one day.
I am Sue Bateman. I learnt to ring as a teenager in the late 70s at Lytchett Minster, Dorset. We were a ‘band from scratch’ as ringing had died out some years before so we were taught by ringers from St Johns, Bournemouth. With their support and encouragement, my ringing progressed and I became an active member of the E Dorset Branch of the Salisbury DGR. At various times in the next 20 years, I was a Branch ringing master, bell restoration fund trustee, committee member, represented SDGR on the Central Council as well as being Lytchett tower captain. I enjoy quarter peals but I have never been particularly keen on peals, so these have been mainly for special occasions and on the rare occasions I have just felt like one. My first peal was rather special, I was just 18 and it was the first ladies’ peal for the Salisbury Guild. I have rung less than 40 peals in total compared to almost 1,500 quarters over the last 40+ years.
I joined NatWest in the 80s and I am still there, but I am not a banker. I have always worked in tax and I qualified as a Chartered Tax Adviser, hence my desire to sign up G&B members for Gift Aid. I like free money from the Government. Work bought me to Bristol in 2000 and after 5 years living, ringing and commuting from Somerset, I moved back to the city, married Steve and joined him in the band at Redcliffe. Ringing at a prestigious 12 bell tower has been very different and sometimes challenging but nevertheless a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I still see myself as a 6-bell ringer who just happens to ring at a 12-bell tower. After all, I did have a misspent youth in Dorset ringing weird and wonderful doubles methods, variations & principles and yes, there are principles other than Stedman and Erin.
I am Tony Buteel. I started to ring in 1968 as a result of being a chorister at St.Mark’s church, Bilton near Rugby. A fellow chorister persuaded me to turn up to the Monday practice and I soon became hooked. I was soon being taken around to meetings and practices in the Coventry and Peterborough guilds and developed my 5 and 6 bell ringing. Two of my enduring memories of that time were, firstly going to monthly ringer’s meetings and the amazing ringers’ teas provided. Secondly sitting in the car outside the pub following a practice and being brought a packet of crisps and a lemonade whilst the others socialised.
I moved down to the Chew branch of the Bath and Wells and made Nailsea my home tower. Nailsea had a reputation for ringing quarter peals at any opportunity which came along. It was in the Chew branch that I developed my 8-bell ringing.
I went to London to do a degree in applied science and for those three years cut back on ringing.
I then worked as a petroleum geologist for six years in North and South America.
In 1986, I moved back to Bristol and retrained at Bath university to become a science secondary school teacher I currently teach at a school in Weston.
In 1996, I returned to ringing and made St Mary Redcliffe my home tower, becoming ringing master in 2007. During my time as ringing master we organised the recasting of the 1768 8th bell, new walkways above the bells, relighting and decorating the ringing chamber. The branch and church were incredibly supportive of these projects which was a great help. In 2017 I stepped down as ringing master and now enjoy the ringing without the pressure!
Ding – A Virtual Ringing Platform
I am not a fan of computer games and I mistakenly thought virtual ringing would fall in this category so I did not bother trying Ringing Room when it arrived in the early days of Lockdown 1. I changed my mind when I discovered Ding. It is written and developed by David Norman & Giles Wood, both local ringers from Trowbridge, Wilts.
Ding is an app for simulated ringing over the Internet and gives the impression of being in a tower with a circle of moving ropes and slightly delayed sound just like a real bell. There is also a buttons option, like ringing room which just does not do it for me nor do either of the other options with ropes arranged in a straight line or a semi-circle. It is the circle of ropes for me every time as I am a visual person, I need to see things as well as hear them.
Ding is useful for both group and solo practice thanks to the automated ringer ‘Bob’ and for the novice and the experienced ringer alike. The speed, number and key of the bells are all adjustable to suit individual taste. It comes with many pre-programmed options from rounds, call changes, Plain Hunt, Plain Bob, Grandsire and Stedman up to Surprise on all number of bells from 5 to 16 plus a custom option to add other methods. I am told the interface is simple and there are versions for Windows (32 or 64 bit), Apple Mac and Linux plus an app for Android phones.
Why do I like Ding rather than other virtual ringing platforms? It is all about the moving ropes. I find it great fun having a rope to follow to gauge where I should place my bell. It is the closest I can get to that authentic ringing experience in the tower, watching ropes and seeing the signposts like the treble, my course and after bells. Even after lockdown I can see a use for Ding as a teaching tool, an extra opportunity to practice as there is never enough time in the tower, especially to learn rope sight but also rhythm and striking.
I have enjoyed joining ringers from Wiltshire and around the country in the Ding open ringing sessions on Saturday nights organised by Giles Wood and some Dorset friends and I have set up a weekly 6 bell practice. It is an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I have also felt privileged to be asked in several Ding quarter peals, not all successful but when we do score, it takes me back to the thrill and satisfaction of my earlier quarters all those years ago.
So far, I have sung the praises of Ding. The only downsides I have experienced are 1) internet problems as it definitely helps to have a fast internet speed and 2) downloading the app can be tricky but there are helpful hints and guidance on the Ding facebook page or the website:
Ding | Facebook.
Dinging - Remote Ringing with Ding
“Ringing Room” – George Salter reflects on his experiences
With the advent of lockdown, a year ago, little could be done to continue ringing while life was put on hold. That is, until Ringing Room appeared. For those of you who do not already know, Ringing Room is an online platform that simulates bellringing. In essence, you join a virtual tower, much like how a chat room works. Within this room, you can ring on tower bells or handbells and can ring anything from 4 right up to sixteen bells! Each user rings a bell with the touch of a button. There you have it - a virtual bellringing platform.
furloughed, there was a wealth of participants. There were lots of practices and quarter-peal attempts and initially these were tricky as people became accustomed to this strange way of ringing. Much like with anything online, we must factor in bandwidth and general internet mishaps. There were countless attempts at quarter-peals that were lost due to someone dropping off and then returning to the method after four or five changes had passed! Nevertheless, it was not long until we started seeing leaps and bounds of progress and the quarter-peals started to be scored.
We rang quite a few quarter-peals as a group of Bristol ringers. These started with Bristol Surprise Major and it was not long before we moved on to spliced. It is rather pleasing when it all goes well and sometimes it really can be rewarding. I have enjoyed my time spent on Ringing Room and I think it is a great platform.
George is Ringing Master at St Stephens and a member of the Bristol 12-bell band
G&B management meeting (6th March) pm: Summary points
The G&B officers had a general meeting in the morning and discussed aspects from ‘Operation Tool’. The G&B management meeting nominated Katy Murdoch-Davis, to be the Lead Ringing Recovery Champion.
All grant projects within the dioceses are given a generous 20% of the cost from the Bell Restoration fund and if a tower is unaffiliated the branch could support local projects e.g. All Saints.
The winter workshops were well supported and over 1000 training slots were filled, this demonstrated a real thirst for training and connection with fellow ringers, the next training workshop in the Summer is currently being organised.
The ringing room app. has been well received but only half of the members use this app regularly.
It was felt that there was a under use of handbells and an opportunity to learn to ring handbells whilst the towers are closed. Many members have private handbells which could be used but ‘church’ handbells would need to stay within the church building as part of the insurance conditions.
The Final Word from the Ringing Master
Whilst the treble is not quite ready to go it is time to Look To. With the rule of six applying indoors from 17-May-21 we will at last be able to return to the ringing chamber to ring in a manner similar to last summer. I know this will not be the ringing as we knew and loved it but with the hopeful full lifting of all restrictions in mid to late June it will be a useful way to ease us back into the exercise we used to enjoy so much. But do not underestimate the work involved to get there. Whilst Ringing Room, Ding and Hand Bells may have kept the grey cells alive, our hands will have softened, muscles weakened and coordination waned. Our bells too will have missed us and may need a little TLC too. But do not despair, there is plenty of help out there from the Branch, G+B and Central Council for those who need it so do not be afraid to ask. Katy is our Champion and has put together an excellent checklist of things to consider so I urge you all to Look To, and to get ready for when that treble starts going again.
Newsletter prepared by Katy Murdoch-Davis and the Bristol branch committee, March 2021
Proposed Horfield Bellringers Road Map
As agreed by Horfield Ringers on 10th May. 2021
End of May: Sunday ringing: Keep to our designated ringing rota, with one ringer in the ringing chamber and one downstairs.
6th June onwards: Sunday ringing: Prepare a new ringing rota, with two designated ringers in the chamber and one downstairs. With Hands-Space-Face mitigations.
4th July onwards: Sunday ringing: ALL 5 bells to be rung, only 5 ringers in the ringing chamber, other ringers wait downstairs. No mitigations but to maintain good ventilation.
Mon. 5th July Ring all bells to celebrate anniversary of the NHS
Sat. 24th July Wedding at 2pm, ringing band start 2:30pm. Ring all 5 bells, a designated band.
2nd August onwards: First practice night with Horfield ringers only.
Sat. 14th Aug. Church celebrations, to ring from 1:30 pm. BDOA organist recital at 2pm.
Normal Sunday ringing
13th Sept. onwards Start training new ringers?.......
4th Oct. onwards Invite visitor ringers
15th Nov. National ‘Celebration Ringing Day’ ?
Future It is hoped that we will make steady progress to routine ringing. We may have to restrict our ringing if Covid numbers increase and in accordance with government guidance.