Sue Robinson – the Guild’s new Master Elect

At this year’s AGM on May 14th, Sue Robinson was elected for the post of Master Elect.

Sue introduces herself below …

Introduction

My name is Sue Robinson & I live near Stanford Bridge in Worcestershire. I moved to this area approximately 9 years ago from Buckinghamshire and after a short stint in Buckeridge, Far Forest moved here to the Teme Valley.

After a very long absence from bellringing and being fortunate enough to start working part time I decided to re-enter the world of campanology. I am absolutely loving it and have rediscovered the passion and enthusiasm for bellringing I remember first appreciating in my early teens.

Experience

My first brush with the hobby started at the age of fourteen in a small village called Whitchurch nestled on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon. I was extremely fortunate to be taught by George Mudge & lucky enough to fall in with a very enthusiastic group which enabled me to progress very quickly. However as is often the case I went off to college to study Agriculture and immersed myself in other things which became detrimental to my bellringing, and I gave it up at the age of twenty.

A move to Wells in Somerset rekindled my interest once again through a work colleague called Brian Mountjoy and I continued to ring up until the time I started my family. A number of house moves later, my two boys grown up with children of their own and living in various parts of the country – here I am ringing at Bromyard & Worcester Cathedral on a regular basis and attending daytime practices at Rock and Stoke St Milborough. In addition, there is a smattering of Quarter Peals, the occasional peal, the privilege of becoming a College Youth member and recently taking on the role of Ringing Master for the Marches District Ladies Guild as well as being the education officer for the Hereford Guild.

I assist at the Cathedral sessions in the training centre which is open to all for an hour before the Monday night practice, here the activities range from handling coaching through to simple methods. At Bromyard we have a wide range of abilities within the band including a couple of novices and the practice sessions are organised to support all levels so the ringing on offer challenges everyone from rounds and call changes through to Yorkshire Royal.

On a personal level I would love to ring eight spliced with a level of confidence, I am enjoying the challenge of 10 & 12 bell ringing and always love returning to my 6 bell ringing roots!

What will you bring to the Guild

Enthusiasm & resilience! And myself as an incredibly positive, self-motivated type of person.

I am usually cheerful, a glass half full person and a good facilitator.

I have 26 years of professional experience in a corporate role where my whole life was based around influencing people and implementing quality related improvements. I hope this experience will assist me to take our guild forward in a positive direction addressing the challenges that face us as custodians of our beloved hobby.

Sue’s aims for the Guild now and for the future

We are emerging from the covid pandemic and although restrictions have been removed, we are far from being back to normal. Whatever normal is, it still equates to an aging ringing population with elements of parochialism. Success, where we find it, currently stands mostly in isolation.

My aim would be to make the Guild better than the perceived “normal.” Make it vibrant & living, more cohesive, open to change that brings improvement & enriches the ringing experience for everyone. If we can turn the Guild into a proactive force for bellringing, we will future proof it whilst protecting the traditions of its origins.

ART M1 Teaching Bell handling Course, Saturday 28th May, Leominster Priory.

ART M1 Teaching Bell handling Course will be held on Saturday 28th May at Leominster Priory.

Suitable for those who already teach bell handling and want to update their skills AND for those who have never taught anyone to handle a bell. Module 1 provides you with the skills and techniques necessary to take a ringer from their first lesson to having competent bell control.

You will learn through a mixture of practical and classroom sessions:
– How to teach a skill
– How to break down bell handling into easy stages that the new ringer can master
– About different learning types and how to adapt your teaching for them
– The benefits of intensive teaching
– The practical sessions will give you plenty of time to practise your new skills in a safe environment. Working in pairs you will also have an opportunity to hone your observation skills and get feedback on your feedback.

If you are interested and would like more details please let me know  by email or phone call (01531 640252 / 07515 729178).

Frank Seabright

Broseley bells project

Broseley has an enthusiastic team of 15 ringers, 5 of whom started to learn since the Covid lockdowns.

However, we have some issues with our bells. The ropes are pulled at strange angles from the bells to the ringers, the pulleys are worn, the sliders have been repaired with metal patches and bells 3 to 8 have the remnants of the original crown staples which could cause the bells to crack in the future. The bells were originally a peal of 6 hung in a wooden frame, but 2 extra bells were added at a later date in a metal frame. The flexing of the bell frame causes issues with pinching of the bell fittings.These problems combine to make the bells quite difficult to ring.

We’re therefore raising money to send the bells away for preventative maintenance and retuning, and to have them reinstalled in a new 10 bell frame. If we can raise enough money we’ll be able to install an additional 2 bells.

We’ve currently raised £17,000 and are busy fundraising to obtain the rest of the money needed to start the project.

For more information, please download our PDF Broseley Bells Project Leaflet.

If anyone would like to donate, we have a JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/broseley-bells

Thank You!

Celebrating Accession Day anniversary

On 6th February 2022, the bells of St Andrew’s Church in Allensmore rang out to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Accession of HM Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. Bellringers from Allensmore and Madley came together to ring rounds, call-changes and Grandsire Doubles.

Local residents were invited along to see us ring and were fascinated by a CCTV camera set up on the bells enabling them to watch what happens at the other end of the rope! Some even had a go at ringing under Stephen William’s expert supervision.

Also ringing …

Kentchurch accession day
Kentchurch
Abbeydore accession day
Dore Abbey
Bacton accession day
Bacton
Ewyas Harold accession
At Ewyas Harold, we rang a quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles
Stoke Edith accession day
A quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles was rung the day before at Stoke Edith
Grosmont accession day
We even helped out over the border in Grosmont

Guidance for England after lifting of ‘Plan B’ restrictions

The following has been issued by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) – more here.

We have come to the point where ringing is not much different to anything else we do in our everyday lives, other than that we may ring in a more enclosed space than we encounter in other activities. The Church of England has revised its own guidance in response to the Government’s lifting of Plan B and the removal of the last mandatory restriction that applied to some ringing settings – the wearing of face coverings in Places of Worship. Their guidance makes it clear that nothing is mandated any more – they give advice and recommendations for keeping each other safe, and respecting the fact that for some the removal of all restrictions is a cause of anxiety, not joy.

As with all the other things we do in life, we have learned the precautions that reduce the risk of transmission. Vaccination, and particularly booster doses, significantly reduces the risk of serious illness from all but the most vulnerable, and for most people the residual risk is now one they are prepared to accept in return for normal life.

The home page of the Government’s Coronavirus website starts with the simple advice:

  • Get vaccinated and get your booster dose
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors
  • Get tested and self-isolated if required

So how does this apply to ringing?

Face coverings

Face coverings are no longer mandatory in any setting, including Places of Worship. The application of the government guidance to ‘consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces’ applies to some ringing chambers, particularly if ventilation is poor. They remain a good way of reducing transmission. Anyone can of course decide to continue wearing a face covering for their own protection, and a whole band may do so if it makes members of the band feel more comfortable.

Lateral Flow Tests

The Government recommends lateral flow tests when meeting other people. LFTs on the day of ringing (as close to ringing as possible) are a key mitigation for those wishing to ring for longer periods of time, alongside good ventilation.

Ventilation

‘Let fresh air in if you meet indoors’ – ventilation in our ringing chambers is important, and a flow of fresh air is the ideal. Poor ventilation or even a total lack is not a barrier to ringing, but you might consider how long you ring for.

Conclusion

We encourage all ringers to take both a personal approach and a collective approach to how residual risk is managed for themselves and each other. A personal approach is what we are probably all doing already when we ask ourselves:

  • What’s the local risk?
  • What’s my personal risk?
  • How do I reduce both?
  • How do I decide if it’s safe for me to ring?

With no limits on numbers, distancing or duration, the emphasis is on considering which mitigations are appropriate for a particular ringing situation, adjusting the length of time accordingly. For instance, a fully vaccinated band (two vaccinations and booster) might be comfortable ringing for an extended period of time at a well ventilated tower if all participants have done a LFT within the previous 24 hours, while teaching youngsters is likely to be for shorter periods, again with a LFT within 24 hours and possibly with a face covering.

 

Alec Osbaldiston

It is with sadness that we announce that Alec Osbaldiston has passed away.

Alec rang at Cleobury Mortimer and Kinlet towers and was the on Thomas Cooper organising committee for a very long time and became a Freeman of the Guild in 2006.

Alec’s funeral will be at St Mary’s Cleobury Mortimer at 1100 on Friday 12 November. There will be ringing before and afterwards. Alec asked that handbells be rung at the graveside and this is being to arranged. The committal will be at Cleobury Mortimer Cemetery, Ludlow Road, on the western outskirts of the town.

Bellringers awarded Order of St Ethelbert

Three Guild members from Bosbury, Holmer and Kentchurch have recently received the award of The Order of St Ethelbert 2021. The Order was founded in 2015 as a means of recognising and honouring women and men from the parishes of the Hereford diocese and beyond who have supported and nurtured the Christian ministry of the diocese in many and devoted ways.

The recipients are:

Mrs Liz Clutterbuck, Bosbury.  For dedicated service to the church for over forty years, including Sunday school, bellringing, church choir, youth work, magazine printing and distribution, parish hall management and much else.

Mr Mike Jefferis, Holmer.  For many years of service as bellringer, maintaining church and grounds, deputy warden and general factotum.

Mr Roland Watkins, Kentchurch.  For sixty years’ service as a PCC member at St Mary’s Kentchurch and nearly fifty as churchwarden (as was his father before him); churchyard maintenance; long commitment to ringing the bells and fundraising for their refurbishment.

Roland is pictured above with Bishop Richard receiving his award on 10th October.

Covid Guidance in Wales from 7 August

The CCCBR posted the following statement:

The Welsh Government have announced that Wales will move to Alert Level 0 from Saturday 7 August onwards.  Whilst this broadly means the lifting of many restrictions, there is still a need for bellringers to exercise caution in returning to bellringing activities.  Covid-19 has not been eradicated and it is a disease that is likely to be with us for some time. Whilst over 80% of the adult Welsh population has been vaccinated, there remain people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons and people who have chosen not to be vaccinated. Furthermore, even with vaccination some people can still become ill or even die from the virus.

Even at Alert Level Zero, there three key legal requirements that must be observed:

  1. Organisations must undertake a written coronavirus risk assessment of their premises and activities and take reasonable measures to minimise exposure to, and the spread of, coronavirus based on that risk assessment.
  2. Everyone must still self-isolate for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19. If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive and you are not fully vaccinated you must also self-isolate for 10 days as instructed by the Test Trace Protect system.
  3. Adults and children over 12 must (with limited exceptions) wear face-coverings in indoor public places (including churches and halls), with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes or nightclubs.

Key sources of guidance on preparing risk assessments is available as follows:

Welsh Government – https://gov.wales/alert-level-0-guidance-employers-businesses-and-organisations-html

Church in Wales – https://www.churchinwales.org.uk/en/clergy-and-members/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/

There is also some very useful information from the Health and Safety Executive regarding ventilation available at https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/equipment-and-machinery/air-conditioning-and-ventilation/index.htm .

Risk assessments must be approved by PCCs or Ministry Area Councils.

The Scottish Association of Church Bell Ringers has a useful template risk assessment available at https://www.sacr.org/images/documents/covid-19/Return%20to%20Ringing%20Risk%20Assessment.docx

Risk Assessments should take into account the following:

  • Ventilation: spaces with good ventilation are safer spaces. If a space cannot be ventilated with fresh air, then social distancing will be even more important.
  • The wearing of face coverings is a legal requirement for public buildings and this includes churches. Raised voices remains a particular risk factor.
  • Social distancing: Whilst the requirement for social distancing is no longer a legal requirement, it remains a useful mitigation to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • There are clearly much lower risks from fully vaccinated persons mixing than when unvaccinated people are mixing.
  • Hand washing and sanitizing should continue.
  • The cleaning of surfaces and premises remains important.
  • Track and Trace – continuing to record who is present in a building enables effective tracing if there is a positive contact.
  • It is important to remind people that Covid-19 has not been eradicated and people should still exercise caution in their behaviour.

Association and Branch events will also require a completed risk assessment to be agreed with the PCC/MAC of the host tower.  Visiting groups of ringers should comply with the risk assessment in place at that particular host church.

Covid Guidance in England from 19 July

The CCCBR posted the following statement on 16th July:

CCCBR Guidance for England from 19th July

Facemasks
  • Expected if ringing with unvaccinated ringers, e.g. youth groups, when teaching face to face, and if your band contains people with impaired immunity
  • Facemasks are no longer required to be worn in Places of Worship by law, but they do offer protection to others (and you).
  • Face to face / close contact teaching, for longer periods of time in the context of exponentially increasing cases, gives a very strong case for facemasks.
  • FFP3 masks offer the best protection both for the wearer and in preventing transmission, but they need to be fitted properly.
Ventilation
  • Ringing rooms should be well ventilated with external airflow
  • It is well established that good ventilation decreases the risk of virus transmission
  • Ideally you should feel a draught. Good ventilation makes longer periods of ringing safer.
Number of ringers
  • No legal limit but avoid crowded badly-ventilated ringing chambers
  • Legal restrictions have been removed but government is still urging caution in minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts
  • Ringers are more likely to feel comfortable where ringing rooms are not too crowded and are well ventilated.
Social distancing
  • No longer legally required
  • Legal restrictions have been removed
Duration of ringing sessions
  • Ring for as long as the band is comfortable ringing for
  • Personal judgement is the basis for deciding how long to spend with others in an enclosed space
  • Ringers are likely to feel more comfortable in well ventilated spaces
Hand sanitiser
  • Still encouraged as it adds protection
  • Scientific evidence that transmission by touch is not the main cause of transmission (aerosol is a greater cause) but the risk has not gone away. Sanitiser is an additional precaution.
  • Remember that sanitiser needs to dry to be effective
Lateral Flow Tests
  • Take them if you are going to mix with unvaccinated ringers
  • UK Government recommends LFTs in order to protect unvaccinated people from those who may be asymptomatic.
  • Definitely if you are running youth practices – parents will expect it. Not necessary for groups of fully vaccinated adults (i.e. two vaccinations).
Message from Simon Linford, President CCCBR

Ringing guidance for England for the period from 19 July onwards has been agreed with the House of Bishops Recovery Group today and can be downloaded from here. The lifting of any restrictions on how long we ring for and with how many other ringers is welcomed, although we need to be mindful that at a time of greatly increasing infection rates, and big regional variations, many ringers will still be cautious in terms of how much ringing they do. Some towers are actually discussing reducing the amount of ringing they do because of the rise in infection levels, not increasing it.

The Church of England’s own guidance has not been published yet, but should be later today. It includes a paragraph referring to the Central Council’s guidance.

Although the wearing of facemasks is no longer mandated in places of worship, and will not appear in the Church of England guidance, we have included a number of situations where due to the particular nature of ringing we would expect masks to be worn, including close face to face teaching, and ringing with unvaccinated children. Some clergy may retain a policy of facemasks in their church or cathedral, and if they do then their wishes take precedence.

The Government now wants us to take responsibility for our own actions. If you don’t think you should ring for as long as you are allowed to – don’t. If you want to wear a facemask when ringing – wear one. If a member of your band wants you all to wear facemasks to protect them – discuss it as a band and come to an agreement. Bellringing is a group activity and we are responsible for each other not just ourselves. The virus has not gone away by any means – we are learning to live with it.

This seems like an ideal time to thank the rest of the Covid guidance team – Phil Barnes, Mark Regan and David Pouncey – who have helped navigate this difficult process over the last 16 months, and the large number of ringers who have given their quiet support behind the scenes. As a team we would like to thank Mark Betson and Brendan McCarthy, the members of the House of Bishops Recovery Group, who have had an extraordinary burden put on them.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Continuation of Step 3 Covid guidance – England

The CCCBR posted the follwing statement on June 17th:

Following discussion with the House of Bishops Recovery Group, there is not going to be any change to the published guidance for England for the four week extension to Step 3 conditions. They were of the opinion that given the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, any relaxation would be foolish and contrary to all messages being given by the Government and its scientific advisers. We only face a four week extension, and the majority of bands have shown that it is possible to get service and practice ringing going again under the current constraints, and even ring quarter peals.

Risks are not the same for all bands or all ringing environments. Although those who have had two vaccinations may feel that the risk to them is very low, which of course it is, to give guidance that is different for one set of ringers as opposed to another would go against the inclusiveness of ringing.

There are two elements of the mitigation of virus spread that are not guidance but are mandatory – the Rule of Six indoors and the requirement to wear face coverings in a Place of Worship. Those two elements are not open to interpretation. All the rest is guidance, and guidance is there to enable individuals and bands to make informed decisions as to what is right for them.

An update to the one page summary guidance can be found here. The only changes to this from version 1.02 is that the word ‘around’ has been added before ’45 minutes’ to emphasise that this has a bit of flexibility based on your tower’s characteristics and ventilation (see the footnote). Also a bit of clarification on the ‘or two households’ alternative to the Rule of Six. Two households means for instance a household of four and a household of three could meet together, but not five unconnected ringers plus a household of another two. It’s probably quite unlikely in ringing context.

Finally, when we draw comparison between what we can do in church towers with what we might be able to do in our own homes, in the pub, or in crowded sports stadia, remember that we are not ringing in those environments but in churches. We need to respect the right of the Church to want to protect its volunteers. If, on the other hand, who have someone wanting to impose greater restriction than current guidance suggests, we will be happy to support you in your attempts to open up your ringing, within the current guidance and what your band is comfortable to do.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR