Guild Newsletter – May 2021

This is the first of a, hopefully not too long, series of Newsletters to keep us all in touch whilst we are unable to ring “normally”. I feel that it is most important that we should all be able to feel connected to the Guild, just as it is that the Guild should be to the membership. I intend to keep you all abreast of developments as we are, hopefully, coming to the end of the restrictions placed on us due to Covid-19 and, also, to give you a little bit of information about the Officers, so that we are not total strangers to you when we are allowed back out into the light!

Guild AGM

At the Guild AGM on 8th May 2021, …

Such a long time since our last meet in 2019 at Cradley. The format, whilst taking place on Zoom, was very similar to past AGM’s where formal business has to be undertaken. We remembered a large number of ringers’ who have sadly past away since our last AGM.

Of course this time around we said our farewell’s to the retiring Guild Master, Nick Cooper-Tomkins and welcomed the new Master, Nick Cronin and whilst no formal face to face hand over could take place, the spirit was still there.

We welcomed some new faces to the Guild through changes to Guild Officers and the emphasis on ‘what comes next’ is a hot topic with much action required from us all. It is usual that the Guild Master presents the Centenary Shield to a member for outstanding work within the Guild. This year the Master spoke of a person, who supported on many levels and was a good council on many topics, he was talking about Chris Kippin and hopes to visit Chris soon to present the plate in person. The Bell Restoration Fund also present the ‘George Cousins cup’ to recognise efforts to improve ringing environments and this went to Darren Swancott for the huge amount of work he has undertaken to improve the ringing room at Broseley. A more in-depth detail is available via the soon to be published, draft minutes.

GUILD MASTER – Nick Cronin

Nick CroninAt the Guild AGM Nick Cooper-Tompkins stood down from the post of Guild Master, and I was honoured to be elected to the position, and, for those of you who do not know me, I will tell you a little about myself. My name is Nick Cronin, Nicholas C.R. Cronin in peal listings, and I have been around ringing for nearly 60 years.

I started learning at Whitbourne, my home from birth, in October 1962, being taught by the late Fred Davis. My progress was slow until a Bromyard District Quarterly meeting some time later when the great Tom Cooper, of Thomas Cooper Striking Competition fame, said to me “Come on son, there’s five good men giving up their time for you”. I did “come on”, and I have been grateful to him for his geeing me up then, and his support afterwards, ever since. Had it not been for those words and subsequent support, I may very well have given up trying to ring bells. I learned a tremendous lot from Whitbourne bells, which, with their long draught and ‘unpredictable’ ropes if they are not handled perfectly, has set me in good stead for ringing just about any bell anywhere.

I lived in Whitbourne for the first 45 years of my life before making the move to Bromyard, where I live with my wife Janet and our four working dachshunds. We work together at my business, in Leominster, where we repair, rebuild and restore vintage and classic motorcycles – and yes, I do own quite a few of them myself, ranging in age from 1913 to 1967!

As soon as we are allowed, it is my intention to support as many Guild events, and towers, as possible.

No doubt many of you will be wondering whether you will be able to ring, or whether you have ‘seized up’. Here are some on-line exercises that I have found which may be a good way of limbering up for the big day, which will not, hopefully, be all that far away:-

‘Getting fit to ring’ from the Survival and Recovery Toolbox, created by ART and the Central Council (or

A YouTube video of a presentation given by Lucy Gwynne to the St Martin’s Guild.‘Yoga for ringers’, an article by Hannah Burrows, Ringing World 2019 p.504 (24 May)

‘Why not to celebrate with a quarter peal – Or, How to avoid injury on returning to ringing’, an article by David Pouncey, Ringing World 2020 p.675 (10 July)

If you would like to invite me along to your practice or meeting, or just to make sure that I know about what you have organised, my contact details are:-

Nick Cronin K.O.B.I.,
4, Maple Close,

Tel: 01885 483424 (please be prepared to leave your name and number on the answering machine, as it is very rare that one of us manages to answer the telephone before the machine does. I will ring you back when I can.)



Mark PughI hope that many of you will already know of me from my many past and current roles held within our Guild. My home tower is Leominster Priory where I have been Tower Captain since 1997 and have the wonderful job of maintaining a very old, early ring of 10 bells which has allowed me to gain knowledge through caring for this set, along with the many projects I have been fortunate to help with.

Even though I am sometimes challenged to run 10 bell ringing, I have a passion for 5 bell ringing and enjoy mad arrangements of doubles to the point of calling a peal at Pembridge.

Concerned with the direction in which our own tower numbers were heading, a few years ago my wife Rhiannon and myself, completed training under A.R.T. (association of ringing teachers) and eventually made Leominster into an ART hub with the aspirations of gaining new learners of which we had 12 at one point and aspired to enthuse new teachers, until the pandemic came along.

It is my hope that you will recover in one shape or another to whatever ringing ends up as and know that I am here to assist with contact for support from the many different angles we have available, not just as the current Guild Secretary, but also as the Guild’s Belfries Officers and a keen enthusiast in the preservation of our sets of bells along with our ART skills set too.

You will find contact details for me upon our new website ( ) or if you have a past Guild Report, contact for Leominster and of course the guild email:

Survival & Recovery Programme

Sterling work has been done, and continues to be done, by our dedicated team of Recovery Champions who are doing their best, in these early stages of the lifting of lock-down, to share ideas, motivation and inspiration with ringers throughout the whole of the Exercise. We are fortunate in having such a dedicated group of people prepared to give their time and if you wish to contact them please request their detail through our Guild Secretary so to match a person near to your ringing tower/s.

With a huge network of Recovery Champions now in place and the enthusiastic contribution to each of the zoom meetings by many individuals from around the country shows there is a great deal of energy around this initiative.

As one might expect common themes are emerging e.g.  almost without exception an acceptance that post covid numbers will be down on an already decreasing number of participating ringers. Districts or towers are focussing on getting current ringers back, then being concerned about retention then finally looking to recruitment. Any number of ideas about how to progress through that journey is to be found under the survival and recruitment banner on the Central Council website.

Thankfully, there is a recognition that current ecclesiastical and historical district boundaries need to be broken down to enable us to survive and become better equipped to attract & retain a wider cross section of the population into this wonderful hobby of ours. That is amazingly easy to say and much harder to implement.

Its safe to say however that each step of the process back to ringing as we knew it – and then some – needs a healthy amount of collaboration. We have all got something to offer, and it will be so good to bring some positivity back into our world. We need to make a start in our area, and I hope we can do so very soon.

Under the banner of survival and recovery this Saturday marks the start of a series of presentations to illustrate examples of good practice. These presentations will be hosted online during the week commencing Saturday 8th May and are aimed at and open to anyone who is wanting to make the ringing recovery a success. Here is the link for those who wish to take a look or join in:

The Thomas Cooper Striking Competition

Owing to the uncertainty of the timing of the return to ringing, and of how it will actually work in the first few months, it has been decided that the Striking Competition will not take place this year, the next one will, Deo volante, take place in October 2022.

Guild open day

When we are allowed to mix and meet up on a more “normal” basis, hopefully in October 2021, it is planned to hold a Guild Open Day. This will be a chance for the Guild, and the wider world, to savour the results of the hard work that has been going on during the lockdown: the rehung, retuned and augmented 10 at Ledbury and the recast 8 at Stoke St Milborough. It may not be possible to combine both of them in one day, as they are, depending on the route taken, between 35 and 45 miles apart, but, I am sure, we are all keen to hear for ourselves the difference in sound and to experience the improved “go” of the rings.

 Guild Contacts

As there will be no Guild Report this year, it is important that our contact details are kept up to date. Listed below are the names of key District Officers and their contact details. All other detail is held upon the Guild Website or available via the Guild Secretary.

District Secretary Email Address
Bromyard Nicholas Cronin
Hereford Barbara Fox
Church Stretton Ann Bennett
Ross on Wye Pauline Leggate
Leominster Sue Robinson
Ledbury Chris Jones
Bridgnorth Sarah Hilton
Clifford & Kington Patricia Key


Guidance from 3rd May – Wales

For the Welsh towers in our Guild, there is new guidance from the CCCBR:

Today we have published guidance for ringing in Wales from 3 May, when Wales goes to Alert Level 3. This guidance was developed from the England guidance and agreed with the Church in Wales by Matthew Turner, Master of the Llandaff & Monmouth Diocesan Association.

As with the England guidance published last week this guidance should be read in conjunction with the recently update guidance note about individual risks.

Wales Guidance: Alert Level 3

Is it appropriate for an individual to ring?

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

CCCBR Guidance from 17th May – England

Today we have published draft guidance for the period from 17 May to 21 June to enable ringers in England at least to plan for the next phase of lockdown release. This guidance has been agreed with the House of Bishops Recovery Group, but it remains in draft form until the Government finally confirms that its four tests have been met immediately prior to 17 May. The guidance is a major step change from previous guidance.

There are two new documents on the Covid guidance pages of the Council website. The first is one specifically covering this five-week guidance period which can be found here, and then an update of the guidance note about individual risks.

The key points of the guidance are that:

  • Rule of Six applies indoors – ringing sessions should be arranged for six people
  • Hands – Space – Face rules apply – face coverings, hand sanitising between ringing, 1m plus mitigations when ringing
  • Lateral Flow Tests – twice weekly, preferably timed for days of any sustained ringing
  • Consider your own personal risk
  • Restrict ringing time to 45 minutes whilst maintaining good tower ventilation

Please do read all of the two guidance documents as there is much more detail in them, and this is just a summary.

Guidance 17 May to 21 June

Is it appropriate for an individual to ring?

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

Ringing for the funeral of HRH Duke of Edinburgh

What the Church is expecting is tolling of a single bell during the hour before the funeral, which starts with a minute’s silence at 3pm on Saturday. You don’t need to toll for the full hour, just during the hour, e.g. up to 3pm. Half muffled preferred, but a single bell tolling slowly whether half muffled, fully muffled, or even unmuffled, will have the desired effect.

CCCBR 12/4/21

HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh Dies – 9th April 2021

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

His Royal Highness passed away peacefully on 9th April at Windsor Castle.

Guidance for ringing for the Duke of Edinburgh

Following conversations with the Church of England today, half-muffled tolling or chiming of a single bell on Saturday 10th April 2021 at 12 noon, 99 times or up to 5 minutes is recommended following the announcement of the death the Duke of Edinburgh. The Cabinet Office has declared 8 days of official mourning, during which time any other ringing should be half-muffled and in accordance with current Covid-19 restrictions. Half-muffled tolling or chiming of a single bell is recommended on the day of the funeral. There is no special dispensation of current ringing guidance on Sunday.

Easter Sunday ringing

From the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers President

This guidance has just been published. We have been necessarily cautious in agreeing this wording with the House of Bishops Recovery Group who are very mindful of the fact that the law has not actually changed, despite the view some Cathedral choirs might be taking. It is worded to enable ringers and incumbents to get as many bells ringing as they believe is safe based on local circumstances.

Many incumbents are asking if some bells can be rung as part of their church or cathedral’s Easter celebrations, and bellringers are also keen to play part. The Central Council believes that bells are an important part of the act of worship, particularly on Easter Sunday. Unlike at Christmas, UK and Irish Governments have not introduced any relaxations of the rules on meeting indoors for Easter. Those rules are readily available and well understood.

We have established guidance on reducing the risk of ringing both to ourselves and each other, and most recently published our latest thinking on virus transmission and ventilation in ringing chambers, with chancel crossings at one end of the risk scale and small airless rooms at the other. We recommend considering all these factors when decided how many bells can be rung and for how long, in consultation with your incumbent, churchwardens or Cathedral Chapters.

One or more bells ringing on Easter Sunday will surely be appreciated by our churches and communities.

Simon Linford

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers President

Registered Charity Number: 270036

Broseley wins George Cousins Cup

BroseleyDuring the Covid-19 pandemic, Darren and the Broseley team have used some of the time away from ringing to do maintenance in the tower, both to the bells and in the ringing room.

As a result of all the hard work, the team were awarded the George Cousins Cup for the most improved ringing room in the Hereford Diocese.

Improvements include:

  • smaller and less rickety table
  • new corner cabinet
  • larger noticeboard
  • new pulls for clock hammers
  • new secondary glazing
  • refurbished boxes and steps into ringing room
  • new 3D printed model bell.

click on the pictures to expand

Broseley Tower page

Roadmap to Ringing Resumption

On Monday 22 February, the UK Government published a roadmap for exiting lockdown over the coming months, detailing how and when restrictions will be eased if everything goes to plan. It is a welcome and cautious framework for a return to normality. The roadmap provides us with an opportunity for ringing to return over the coming months.

While there is still detail to be studied, and every chance of change, all indications are that ringing in England at least will come out of lockdown as follows:

Stage 1 – 29 March
Rule of six outdoors will benefit handbell ringing (up to 15 for young people)

Stage 2 – no earlier than 12 April
Young ringers groups possible following the ‘out of school settings’ guidance (expect social distancing restrictions)

Stage 3 – no earlier than 17 May
Rule of six indoors enables ringing subject to social distancing rules to be confirmed (could still be 2m)

Stage 4 – no earlier than 21 June
All legal restrictions removed
(it remains to be seen whether facemasks will still be suggested or mandated – that is not absolutely clear yet)

During any of these stages, ringers may still be cautious as not all ringers will be vaccinated, particularly young people. There is still risk of transmission and infection for us to be aware of; vaccination is not a passport. An article will be published in next week’s Ringing World with updated analysis of transmission in ringing chambers and the benefits of ventilation. This will just be for guidance though to be interpreted in accordance with local circumstances – the law will be the primary driver for what ringing is possible.

This week’s announcement applies to England only, and so we continue to keep in touch with our contacts in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to stay abreast of the situation there over the coming weeks. Scotland for instance has rule of six outdoors from 5 April and churches reopening for limited numbers from that date also. Then from 26 April at the earliest Scotland intends to go back to a “tiers” system of local restrictions.

This is the clearest we can be at the moment based on the information available, and after discussion with the Church of England Recovery Group this afternoon. It is a roadmap, with more detail to be considered as we move forward. We appreciate ringers are all now starting to plan ringing events from late June onwards, and being asked whether bells will be available for weddings, etc. The main word of caution is that the Government is at pains to stress that these dates are the earliest possible, so commitments made for shortly after those deadlines should be made with that in mind.

It does now feel like the end of an incredibly difficult year for ringing is in sight. Thank you for your ongoing trust and support.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

Welcome to the new Hereford Diocesan Bell Ringers’ website.

I hope you find all the information on this website useful.

If you find anything that needs updating or is just plain wrong, don’t shoot me – an email to me is all it takes and I’ll update it!

If you have any ideas for something new you’d like to see, again email me and I’ll see what I can do. This is very much version 1.0!


Nick Chapman, April 2021.

Nick Chapman Armistice Day tolling