At the end of May we attended the regional Spring Rally in
Grassington. This was a particularly well attended event as it involved the
celebration of 40 years of modern handbell ringing in the North East. The
region was formed following a rally in Selby in 1977 and many of the original
participants were at the celebration.
There were so many people there that we had to share our
bells with some ladies from Market Weighton for the massed ringing when everyone
rings together. One of these pieces was conducted by our musical director Clair
who is fast becoming a regional superstar.
Our performances of our own pieces also went well and
congratulations to Renee on her first public outing. She did so well having
only been with us for just over a month.
It clearly did not put her off and she performed again with
us at the beginning of June when we played for the Silsden friendship group.
This is a new club which meets monthly in the building next to the Catholic
Church in Silsden. Although many of their members come from the church it is
not exclusivly Catholicand there were other people from the locality some of
whom were attending their first meeting of the group. I have noticed over the
years how many groups there are that meet on an afternoon for a cuppa, chat and
some entertainment. There is no excuse for any retired person to say there is
nothing for them to do!
Our performance went well with Roger’s compering that he has
got down to a fine art. If we need extra time for bell or music changes he has
no problem talking on longer! Afterwards a number of the audience joined us to
have a go and a very creditable performance of Grandfather’s Clock followed.
Don’t forget anyone who is interested is welcome to visit one
of our Monday or Wednesday evening rehearsals in the vestry to see what handbell
ringing is all about.
We have spent April and May preparing for one of the main
events of the year – the regional Spring Rally in Grassington.
This event has been hald in the same venue for many years and
gives us an opportunity to ring bells together with other groups in what is
called massed ringing.
We also prepare and ring two or three pieces on our own which
we have practiced over the preceeding weeks. This would all be relatively
simple if the whole band intending to attend Grassington were available every
However due to holidays, illnesses, work and other
unavoidable events this has not been possible and other people have had to
stand in at each rehearsal. However slowly it is all coming together and as I
write this we are preparing for a final practice.
We have acquired another new member since my last notes,
Renee, and she has (as often seems to be the way in our group) been thrown in
the deep end. She will be taking part in the rally only a month or so after
joining the group! We are still looking for new members – anyone is welcome to
visit one of our Monday or Wednesday evening rehearsals in the vestry to see
what it is all about.
The hand bell ringers have had a
busy spring season, with three small concerts using the 2 octave set of bells.
As these events often take place during the working day we are very lucky to
find at least eight members able to give their time to perform.
Firstly, made a return visit to
Crossflatts Over 50’s Club at St Aiden’s Court at the beginning of March. It is
always nice to be asked back to a venue, and Crossflatts is a regular
engagement for us now.Then a visit to Aire Valley Court on St Patrick’s Day,
this was a new venue for us and we were very well received by a large group of
residents who were in good voice, and joined the sing along to some of our
tunes, appropriately including Oh Danny Boy…..! This was followed by
refreshments and a chance for the audience to have a go on the bells.
Finally, another new venue on 4th
April when we visited Riddlesden Rest Home and entertained the residents and
staff. This was the first performance for Hilary, our most recent recruit. No
doubt she was nervous, but it didn’t show and she rang very well after just a
handful of practice sessions with us.
Looking ahead we are now
preparing for two Handbell Ringers of Great Britain events, at Grassington in
May, and Headingley in June. HRGB is 50 years old in 2017 so some special
pieces of music have been written for the occasion, we will now concentrate on
these pieces at our practice sessions and hopefully perform them later in the
As always if anyone is interested
in joining the team please contact me for further information.
Yesterday we were given a copy of the book of this name
written by an American lady called Nancy Poore Tufts. I have only started
dipping into it but already have found a number of words of wisdom which I can
see myself quoting in a number of articles over the next few months.
Although the book was published in 1962 (before the birth of
our chairperson) many of the words still ring true.
In Chapter VI (Management and Policies of Handbell-Ringing Groups)
it suggests that the average handbell leader is a busy person. We are fortunate
to have found Clair who joined us only early last year and has taken on this
role under the new title of musical director.
The book suggests that she should be ably assisted and
relieved of the mechanics of operating the group by a dependable slate of officers.
These include a president or manager (in our case Jane, our
chair) who should check on the proper functioning of the other officers (I can
vouch for that!) and the care and maintenance of the bells.
There should also be a treasurer who collects our dues and makes collections
for special needs of the group. He should keep accounts of all the funds and
make regular reports to the membership. This is Roger who until 18 months ago
was the only gentlemen in our group. He is very efficient in carrying out all
Beyond this it is suggested we should have a publicity
manager to send notices to the press, broadcasters (are we getting ideas above
our station?), fans and sponsors and to maintain a scrap book. I suppose this
is much what I as secretary do.
The librarian should be responsible for having proper music
at rehearsals and readying it for concerts. This is a duty which has been
carried out by various members at different times by different members but now
is really the duty of Anne who also acts as our bookings secretary.
This all goes to prove however that even a small group such
as us does not run itself. However the final suggestion of a costume manager is
a step too far and we do appear to be capable of washing and ironing our own
Last year I organised a joint event for Hand and Tower Bell
ringers in the region. The event was a success and I was asked to arrange
another. I had thought it was going to be a one off!
This time we held the event in the hall adjacent Christ
Church,Ossett which although it does to have ringable bells is conveniently
situated close to a number of towers and the region's motorway network.
The advantage of doing an event for the second time is that
you can learn from your mistakes and successes. The morning gave people the
opportunity to learn new skills either tunes or changes (such as we normally
ring on tower bells) on handbells. In the afternoon the tower bell ringers
visted other towers and handbell ringers tried sight reading together under our
own musical director Clair. This was her first experience of conducting a wider
However the whole idea of the event was to give everyone to get together, swap
experiences and pick each others' brains for advice. It was pleasing to meet so
many tower bell ringers who are preparing to set up handbell gropus often with
The whole day was a great success and, although I did most of
the organisation, it would not have worked without the assistance of the
Biingley Hand and Tower Bell Ringers including those who helped with preparing
food, serving and clearing up, advertising, transporting the model bell and
generally setting up, particularly over the last couple of days. They will be
relieved to know however that it will be a few years before we organise such an
North East Region Autumn Rally took place this year on the 29th October
at Brighouse Central Methodist. Only a few of our number (as seen in
this photo) were able to attend.
is always gratifying when we get asked to return to a venue we have
performed at before. That way we feel we must be doing something right!
October we returned to Wilsden Thursday Group at the village hall
almost a year after our previous visit. We rang the three octave set for
about 45 minutes and then were able to offer the audience a chance to
'have a go' with us. Quite a few of them took up this offer.
us on this occasion was Kathy, a new ringer who joined us after the
Heritage week end. She was rather thrown in the deep end due to the work
commitments of others and took part in her first concert less than a
month after her first attempt on the handbells. Congratulations to
Kathy! We hope she has not been put off and is ready for the next event!
anyone else tried the handbells on the Heritage Weekend and wants to
join us on a practice night maybe with a view to becoming a handbell
ringer you are very welcome indeed.
We took part in the challenge made by the Central Council of Church
Bell Ringers to open up 500 of England’s bell towers in September. We
took advantage of the publicity to not only open the tower, but also
put on a display about the history of the Bingley Tower Bells dating
back to the 1600s, tell the history of the tower and introduce visitors
to some of the bell ringers who have rung the bells over the centuries.
We also told the history of hand bells, their rediscovery and
restoration over the past 6 years.
widely publicised handbell taster session was held on Wednesday 7th
September when 20 people joined us at our regular handbell practice, A
number of them ‘had a go’ at handbell ringing and some also ventured up
the tower - having been fortified previously by drinks and nibbles.
tower was officially opened to visitors on the afternoons of Friday
9th, Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September. The weather was kind to us
and we had a steady flow of visitors over the three days. Some were
local having been attracted by our flyers and others who had heard of
the event in the press, on social media or on the radio came from
further afield. Because we were one of the few events taking place on
the Friday we had our photographs taken and appeared in the weekend
edition of the T & A.
enjoyed the handbell demonstrations and tours of the tower and most had
a go either on the training tower bell or at tune ringing on the bells
and chimes. Refreshments were provided by the congregation in aid of the
Church Path Project which also benefited from the sale of raffle
tickets, plants and crafts.
shall have to wait however to see if the publicity brings forward any
new recruits at our practices. Don’t forget though if you missed the
week end you are always welcome in the tower on Tuesday evenings or in
the vestry for handbells on Mondays or Wednesdays (see diary for dates)
even if it is just to see what goes on with no commitment to come back!
preparation, cleaning, research, displays, practice sessions, banners,
balloons and flyers have all been part of our bell ringing activities
this month. As Connect 4 readers will have seen last month we are taking
part in the Heritage Open Days and are part of the challenge made by
the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers to open up 500 of England’s
bell towers this September.
will be open to visitors between 2pm and 4pm on Friday 9th, Saturday
10th and Sunday 11th September 2016. This will be an open event for all
ages to visit the bell tower, have a go on a mobile bell, see bell
ringing demonstrations and have a go at hand bell tune ringing. We
intend to put on a display about the history of the Bingley Bells dating
back to the 1600s, tell the history of the tower and introduce you to
some of the bell ringers who have rung the bells over the centuries. We
will also be telling the history of hand bells and their rediscovery
and restoration over the past 6 years.
booking is required, there is no charge for the open day but
refreshments will also be on sale in aid of the Church Path Project.
Details and flyers about our tower event are available in church. More
details about all Heritage Open Days are available on this link:
https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting. We hope to provide plenty
to learn about, to experience and to enjoy even if you have not got the
legs to climb the bell tower – so please note the dates and come and
many handbell ringers in our region Spring means Grassington. For more
years than we have been ringing the Spring rally and AGM have been held
in May in this Dales town.
year as we prepare our performance pieces we realise how we have
improved and this year ii was particularly so. We played Over the
Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz which we had attempted there three years
ago with mixed results – this year it went really well.
was disappointing was that despite having three octaves of bells we
only had enough ringers available to ring two octaves. We have lost a
number of our stalwart ringers in the last few months and, despite the
arrival of John and Clair, we are often struggling to ring all our bells
at practices and performances.
We need to attract new ringers and with this in mind are proposing a number of TASTER SESSIONS
watch this space - we always welcome people to watch us practice and to
join in perhaps with a view to becoming a handbell ringer but these
events will be more sociable and geared particularly to potential new
recruits young and old.
often play our handbells at old peoples’ clubs and groups, probably
because the bells are relatively simple to transport and we can play a
good variety of tunes they know.
introductions come around in various ways. Last year the mother of a
friend of a bellringer moved to Ashfield - a local authority owned care
home in Skipton. Relatives were asked if they could find unusual or new
activities and entertainments for their relatives. Hence why our
handbell group was suggested. We finally arrived there in April. By then
the friend’s mother had passed away but he and his wife still came to
was a most successful afternoon. There was plenty of space and light
for us and the audience joined in many of our pieces. The residents were
joined by others from the adjacent day care centre and many members of
staff turned up to listen too.
hope to be invited to play there again........not least because when we
finished we were given drinks and beautiful tasty homemade biscuits!
regional handbell committee came up with the idea of a joint handbell
and tower bell event as an opportunity for both types of ringers to find
out what the others do. In our handbell team there are 6 of us who do
both but our group is the exception rather than the rule.
event was based around Burley north Leeds where there are three towers
in close proximity, a church hall with plenty of room for handbells and a
well equipped kitchen. It is also a very central location for those
whom we expected to attend.
original plan was for both groups to do their own thing in the morning
and then to meet for a sociable lunch before trying the other. From that
point of view it was as great success although there were more handbell
ringers than tower bell ringers so the queue in the afternoon to try
tower bells was down the stairs. We have had to offer our own group
another opportunity to try the Bingley bells! Still Jane our tower
captain says she has found some naturals.
the handbell masterclass provided at least two Bingley tower bell
ringers a first try and we know where to look next time we are short for
a handbell performance! The only disappointment was that not as many
towers brought old distressed bells to the surgery for advice as we had
thanks to all from both Bingley teams who helped with the organization
and catering - as always the Bingley Belles could not be accused of
letting people go hungry!
our success in obtaining a grant from the Skipton Building Society
Grassroots Giving Grant Scheme we started contacting local schools in
November and received an immediate reply from Bingley Grammar School
asking if we could bring our new chimes in for a group of year 7s.
only problem than was getting the chimes. There was a considerable
delay in supply and so our first visit to the school was not until the
first week of January. However although it is early days the children
are keen and we are hopeful that they may be able to take part in a
school concert towards the end of term. In the meantime we were
contacted by Roy from the Skipton who asked us if we could attend and
perform at the society’s leadership event at the Harrogate International
This was the biggest venue we had ever performed at even if we were
only in the lunch venue outside the main hall and there was the added
enticement of a free meal! We spruced ourselves up, laundered the table
cloths and transported our bells to Harrogate last Friday. We set off
in wind and rain, but by the time we arrived the sun had come out to
such an extent that we had to move three advertising banners to cover
the windows and stop it reflecting off our newly polished bells.
course we had to play some pieces using the chimes that the Skipton had
so kindly funded as well as other favourites, old and new. We
alternated playing over the lunch interval with a group of singers who
also won money from Grassroots Giving. We thought we played well and are
told that the music floated beautifully down the stairs as people
approached. The event was very successful and we hope we played our part
in showing members of the Society what it does for the community.
is always our busy season and 2015 was no exception. After the Skipton
Building Society recognised us for supporting our local community we are
pleased to report that we played at two local nursing homes – Fairmount
in Shipley and Wingfield in Bingley.
of our members are also members of a rambling club and we entertained
their friends at their Christmas Social event. They were able to show
their friends that they are people of many talents !
14th December we played in the Brown Cow on Ireland Bridge – we were a
bit concerned that the customers would be too interested in drinking and
chatting so that we would have difficulty being heard. However they
allowed us plenty of space and the event appeared to go well with a
number of people joining in our Sing a long carols.
final event of the year was the All Saints Carol Service where we
played before the service and then (a first for us) accompanied Silent
Night during the service.
are not much quieter for us in January. By the time you read this we
will have given our first two lessons on the new hand chimes at Bingley
Grammar School and attended the Skipton Building Society Leadership
Event in Harrogate.
then have at least one performance a month booked in over the spring
and early summer. These include a hand and tower bell taster day being
held at St Matthias Church, Burley, Leeds on 27th February. If anyone is
interested in joining us for this please contact us and we will send
you further details.
read the topical joke in one of our crackers as we celebrated our post
Christmas meal last night.
Christmas is our busiest time for performances we just do not have time to get
together and socialise and we have therefore traditionally had a post –
Christmas meal. Last year it was delayed until June by the floods but at least
this year we managed to meet up in January.
went to the Fisherman’s at Dowley gap where one of our band, Ashleigh, works.
This time she was on the customers’ side with us and not slaving away in the
kitchen. We had a lovely meal, a good catch up and a sneaky picture quiz
prepared by Pam. The hard work starts again next week with a practice on Monday
was busy and as well as local events we travelled as far as Clitheroe one
December afternoon to perform to an audience of nearly 100 at the U3A Christmas
meeting. We must have made a good impression because a relative of one of the
audience has contacted us already with another potential booking.
We hope you all enjoyed our playing at the
All Saints Carol Service – we felt it was one of our best performances.
If your New Year’s resolution is to try a
new hobby what about joining us in the vestry for handbells on Mondays or
Wednesdays even if it is just to see what goes on. There is no commitment to come back, but we
hope you will!
Solna Burnham (07884233382)
Bingley Handbell Ringers
– the answer is“Jingle Smells” – reminds
me of one of our favourite pieces