Bingley Handbells News

Bingley Handbells News


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August 2018

2018 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Fri, September 07, 2018 21:00:49

One of our ringers, Diane, works for Royds which brands itself as ‘a local charity for local people’ and they arranged an event on 5th July under the NHS 70 Tea banner.

They held their tea party at their headquarters on their enterprise park in South Bradford. Those attending where mainly members of their staff, local residents and people who make use of their other facilities including a number of elderly residents.

As the event was held in the middle of the day we had even more difficulty than usual putting together a band and only knew a few days before that six of us would be able to attend to play music arranged for 12 bells.

Still we managed it!

We played a few pieces and then were treated to a real afternoon tea including sandwiches with the crusts cut off, salads, baked salmon, cakes and scones with jam and cream – all served on china plates. Each table had a vase of flowers and their own teapot and milk jug from which tea was poured into china cups – a far cry from our usual rehearsal time mugs!

Of course every treat comes with hitch – in this case a fiendishly difficult quiz to work out Yorkshire place names from the literal translations of the ancient works – we might have known that Broad ford was the meaning of Bradford but how many of us knew Ilkley meant Ylica’s clearing?

After tea we took the bells around the tables to show them off and although they were very interested on this occasion none of the audience were brave enough to ‘have a go’ in front of everyone else.

We then departed feeling well sated and probably did not need to eat again that day!

July 2018

2018 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Mon, August 06, 2018 08:32:05

As a small group we always welcome new members, but if they are enthusiastic and musical it is a bonus. One such person was Mary Lister who joined us early in 2015. She knew some of our members through her other activities and interests including her attendance at St Wilfrid’s, Gilstead and her membership of Eldwick Tennis Club.

Mary was keen to ring the small bells as she considered they ‘had more of the action’ and she took part in a performance and workshop at Dewsbury Minster only a short time after joining us. After getting to know us better she had no problem making clear her wishes for us to play particular pieces.

It was particularly saddening that only a few years later, this summer she passed away after a long and valiant fight against illness. She never let it rule her life and latterly she would often make contact to say that she was having a good week or was less susceptible to infection so she would be joining us for practice – even if it meant spending an hour or so in Bingley whiling away time after a doctor’s appointment. In fact she was particularly cross that a change of bus timetable made it more difficult for her to travel to practices!

Her funeral was held at St Wilfrid’s which was packed with a choir and a huge congregation leaving standing room only. Jane, our chair, was asked to say a few words about Mary’s membership of Bingley Handbell Ringers at the service together with representatives of other groups which reflected her wide and varied interests.

So we say farewell to Mary and extend our sympathies to her son Will and other members of her family.

June 2018

2018 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Mon, June 04, 2018 19:54:51

It is a sad fact that many groups of handbell ringers are becoming short of members either on odd occasions or even every day for practices. In our own case we have lost of number of members over the last year or so due to death, illness, moving home or family problems.

We now have enough ringers for the full 3 Octave set if ALL our ringers turn up. So with this in mind we are practicing more 2 octave music and have been trying 12 bell music. In addition a group of our ringers attended a workshop in March to learn how to ring 4 in hand (4 bells at one time). All these give us more options but sometimes even these are not enough.

We rang for a partially sighted group in Ilkley in April and as this was in the middle of the working day we could not raise enough of our own ringers. However we were kindly joined by two experienced ringers from North Leeds who attended our practice one day and performed with us the next day. Clair and Diane from our band were then able to return the favour by practising and performing with the same band, Treble 8, at the regional rally in Grassington in May. Not only does it help on the day but it also gives us more ideas to share and pass on. With this in mind we hope to arrange more small rallies within the region to encourage future co-operation.

On 3nd June 6 of us (using the new 12 bell music) rang at the first of the town council markets in Bingley. We have always from past experience said that we would not ring outside but we were promised a gazebo and an amplifier so we decided to give it another chance. The day actually went well and the gazebo kept the bells dry even if our feet were literally standing in a stream running across the market place following over 12 hours of heavy rain! We are now looking at purchasing our own amplifiers and have offered to perform at another of these markets.

It just goes to prove that we should not stand still, but should be open to new ideas!

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.

Farewell to tower and handbell ringer - John Nixon

2017 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Thu, August 03, 2017 18:43:09

In late summer 2015 a new person appeared, without announcement, at a Tuesday night practice. Little did we know then how significant a part of the ringing teams John Nixon would become, nor did we foresee how fond we would all become of him or how soon we would be saying our sad farewells following his death in early July this year. John was a very experienced ringer and brought over 63 years of ringing experience with him. John came that evening to ring tower bells, but by the end of the evening, and after a visit to the pub, we also found out he rang hand bells. So the very next evening, there he was at his first hand bell practice! We were very grateful for his experience and commitment both as a tower bell ringer and as a hand bell ringer.

In just short of two years John supported the teams ringing for Sunday Services, weddings and other community events. One of his greatest pleasures was conducting the “Firing of the Bells” in October 2016 to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This enabled John to combine two of his greatest interests; bell ringing and Canal and River Trust involvement. John’s retirement meant he was no longer involved in active church ministry and so he was also able to be a great support to the Hand Bell Team as they often rang during weekday afternoons to entertain people at various local retirement and care homes.

John had a confident and very pleasant character and was never backward in encouraging ringers to push the boundaries of what they were capable of in bell ringing terms. He also very quickly became involved in the social side of bell ringing life, be that tower or hand bells. John’s interests often matched that of other retired male ringers in the tower and their anecdotes of older men misbehaving on various “Industrial Archaeology” jaunts, often entertained us in the pub after ringing practice.

We felt it very fitting that not only did John’s funeral include a fulfilment of his wish for the tenor bell to be rung 79 times as his coffin was brought into All Saints; that is once for each year of his life, but it also included the theme tune from “Last of the Summer Wine”, enabling us to smile and remember the lighter side of our too brief relationship with him. He will be missed and remembered by both the tower and hand bell teams at All Saints.

Clair conducts at the Grassington Rally

2017 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Tue, June 27, 2017 13:26:48
Our musical director Clair took centre stage at the Grassington Rally when she conducted the massed ringing. Click on the link to see and hear more.

2016 News

2016 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Wed, January 18, 2017 23:08:46

2016 archived news


The 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!

This 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.

Among 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!

If 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.

A 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.

The 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.

People 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.

We 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!

Planning, 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.

We 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.

No 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: 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 join us.

May 2016

For 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.

Each 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.

What 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

Please 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.


We 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.

Our 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 watch.

It 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.

We hope to be invited to play there again........not least because when we finished we were given drinks and beautiful tasty homemade biscuits!


The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

Similarly 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 hoped.

My 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!

February 2016

Following 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.

The 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 Centre.

Wow! 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.

Of 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.

January 2016

Christmas 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.

Two 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 !

On 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.

Our 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.

Things 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.

We 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.

Christmas performance video

2017 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Mon, January 16, 2017 17:11:20
We enjoyed performing this last Christmas at many venues but here is a video of us playing one of our favourites (at Harden WI).

November 2016

2016 NewsPosted by Roger Pollard Sun, November 27, 2016 16:25:17

Setting out for a performance is like a military manoeuvre! As not all of us have our own transport we need to sort out who is giving who a lift and who is transporting what piece of equipment. There is always the panic that if not everything is in writing we might forget something - or someone!

If we have two performances on consecutive days then we have the advantage of being able to leave things in cars over-night (don't worry the valuable bells are only left in a car if it is in a locked garage) as long as the same people are taking part in both performances.

With the busy Christmas season coming up with do have occasions like these but we also had one at the end of October. On the Friday night we took part in a concert with three other 'turns' to raise money for the Steeton Christmas lights (one of our ringers lives in the village) and on the Saturday we took part in the Regional Autumn Rally at Brighouse. The first event was a great success - we had enough ringers to perform on the three octaves and all our practising a couple of days before was well worth it.

The second event did not go so well - we only had five and a half ringers (our esteemed leader Jane now works on Saturday mornings so could not join us until lunchtime). We did however found three other lost souls who were happy to join us. However we could still only ring the two octaves and had of course never rung as a group before. Still it made for some inter group harmony and gave all of us the chance to perform that we would not otherwise have been able to do.

Our next performance was at a Carers Resource Group monthly meeting in Steeton where the chance to 'have a go' was greatly appreciated. Now it is on to our Christmas Season when, as well as All Saints Carol Service, we aim to perform at a nursing home, a U3A group, a WI meeting, a Ramblers' Christmas party and Crossflatts School Fair. Maybe we will see you at one of these - if not here is wishing you a Very Merry Christmas!