Guidance for England under Plan B

The latest Summary Guidance issued by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) that has now been published looks at each of the mitigations in addition to face coverings and LFTs and how they apply to ringing.

The CCCBR 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?

Note that there are no limits on numbers, distancing or duration, but an emphasis on considering which mitigations are appropriate for a particular 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 much shorter periods, again with an LFT within 24 hours and also with a face covering.

The wearing of face coverings is not mandatory (as noted above) but it is known to reduce risk of spread between people, and as such it remains a strong recommendation. It is however a matter of personal choice and a collective band decision.

The full guidance is here.

Hereford Ringing Course 2022

The 2022 Hereford Course will take place between Thursday 21st and Sunday 24th of April  at the Royal National College, Venns Lane, Hereford, provided there are no restrictions that prevent us from going ahead.

  • Groups ranging from Rounds and Calls to Surprise Major
    • New Treble Dodging Minor group
    • Surprise Major group focusing on the new ‘core 7’
  • 6 Practical sessions
  • Additional opportunities to practice
    • Raise and Fall
    • Conducting
    • Listening and timing
    • Handbells (change ringing and tunes)

More information, a full programme and application form can be found on

Or contact the course secretary enclosing a self addressed stamped envelope:

Alison Moreton
1 Silcoates Drive

Closing date for applications is 31st January, 2022

Ring out for climate

Bells have traditionally been rung to mark significant moments, both in times of celebration, such as victory in war, and as a warning of impending danger, such as invasion.

Towers in the Hereford Diocese have been asked to join in the Ring Out for Climate initiative at 18:00 on Saturday 30th October. The United Nations Climate Change conference takes place in Glasgow between October 31 and November 12.

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 –

Church in Wales –

There is also some very useful information from the Health and Safety Executive regarding ventilation available at .

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

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

  • 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.
  • 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

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