Summer 2020_during Covid 19 pandemic
What a year this been and we are only just over half way through it. We've had lockdowns, furloughing, social distancing and worse of all, no ringing for 5 months now. I hope that you have all been able to weather the storm so far and are as prepared as you can be for whatever lies ahead in these turbulent times.
On the ringing front we finally saw some progress towards a partial resumption last month but in reality the restrictions we had to meet meant that in most towers ringing would have been so limited as to make little difference. I know that some ringers were frustrated that it wasn't possible to be able to do more but with no economic benefits and only a minor wellbeing impact to a small group of people the Government and the Church were always going to play it safe. The Central Council must be praised for getting ringing on the table at all and for getting the agreement they did.
What none of us must lose sight of is that everyone is kept as safe as reasonably possible and that equally importantly everyone feels safe to. So I hope that you all understand the reasons for the 2m rule and 15 minute limit that are causing so many difficulties and recognise that these are for your safety. That is why I support anyone who has decided that ringing is not for them at the moment, either because they are uneasy about taking the risk or they feel what can be rung isn't worth the effort. The choice has to be a personal one.
So what of the future? Well, I fear that we may be in the trough between two peaks in this pandemic although the next peak will hopefully be less severe now that people know how to behave. However, it will mean that there will have to be some difficult decisions on which parts of society will be open and which won't. Ringing is unlikely to be high on the list of priorities and for one I would not constance closing schools in favour of ringing. This means that it is likely to be some time yet before we can resume ringing anywhere close to what we enjoyed before. So the priority for every tower must be on retention if we are to have any ringers to ring our bells when this nightmare is finally over. I would urge everyone to be imaginative in thinking of ways to keep everyone together and keep friendships going. I am sure that Katy would like to hear about what you have been doing so that she can share your experiences with the rest of the Branch.
So until we meet again in a bell tower keep safe, keep well and above all keep positive.
Simon Tomlinson, Bristol branch ringing master