28th January 2016

President’s Blog

September 2016

School holidays may be over but September seems very much like summer at the moment. Whilst I did manage a short break in the Lake District, there were a few ringing items still occurring in July and August.

Over 7th/8th July we held the annual Diocesan Bell Advisers Conference in Warwick, part of the Council’s work with Church Care. Chris Pickford gave a comprehensive overview of bells in Warwickshire and Keith Chambers, adviser to Coventry Diocese, made an enthusiastic survey of work done and potential for the future, particularly making best use of old bells and installations. The sometimes emotive subject of radio masts in towers was my own talk and Alan Frost illustrated the key points of recording bells and bell frames. Church Buildings Council updated their side with reference to new faculty rules which were introduced in January. Finally, Andrew Wilby and Simon Adams talked about current challenges for the bell founder before we dispersed for a tower tour.

An official launch of the Heritage Open Day programme, headed by National Trust, took place in London on 18th July as a precursor to the September activities. No doubt as you read this many will have been involved in organising open days and demonstration ringing at your own towers, this is a most important event which I hope will continue to get ringers’ support in future years. The following day I had two more meetings in London, one regarding Safeguarding upon which an update will be appearing in the Ringing World soon. The second was our regular joint meeting with Church Care and Heritage England on bell related matters.

The Ringing World has not surprisingly been recording summer ringing tours and there was also an important article (pages 847-849) outlining opportunities for ringing at Universities. Anyone having young ringers going off to University should encourage their continued participation which could be of mutual benefit both to themselves and their University society. I would not normally single out a ringing performance but the peal at St James, Garlickhythe, London (report page 820) was the first by a local band newly trained on the “Royal Jubliee bells” by Dickon Love and which included no less than four “firsts” – well done.
You will have seen [published the list of volunteers who have joined the Council Review Action Group (CRAG) and will be conducting an independent review of the Council’s activities. They will be contacting many organisations and individuals throughout ringing circles and I trust that you will give them support and assistance when requested.

The fact that a review is taking place does not affect the ongoing work of the Council. We have just been involved in a number of radio interviews, myself covering 10 stations in 2 hours on Sunday 4th September with PRO Kate Flavell taking a similar range. As always one is hostage to the questions and assumptions made by interviewers but the positive aspect of ringing were brought to the fore.

Finally, the first of a series of Regional seminars is to be held at Southwark Cathedral on 1st October to which “home counties” societies have received invitations. The aim is to share experience and best practice in the way that ringing is run and highlight resources and new ideas available. It is the intention to cover as many societies as possible at different centres in coming months.

I hope you have all come back to ringing refreshed and with energy to do the best in your respective towers and societies, ringing only survives by what we do as individuals.

Chris Mew, September 2016

July 2016

I could not write this blog until two of the most important annual events had taken place. No, not the Central Council meeting in Portsmouth in May, well reported elsewhere but the two competitions: the National 12-bell final in Aston on 25th June followed by the Ringing World National Youth Competition in London on 2nd July.

Apart from being a demonstration of excellence in 12-bell ringing, the Aston gathering was as always a wonderful social occasion. Birmingham won the trophy again and there was a tribute to Henry Johnson with a short service and flowers placed at his grave during the afternoon.

The following Saturday saw a record 24 teams enter the RWNYC with Bedfordshire again winning the Whitechapel Trophy. Going around with my own Coventry team it was great to see myriads of young ringers enjoying the novelty of a day in the capital and ringing on such prestigious bells as St Martin’s and the “Queen’s bells” at Garlickhythe. Well done Linda Garton and all who took part in the organisation and the leaders who brought teams from as far afield as Scotland and the South Coast.

Prior to this and following the CC meeting my Guild embarked successfully on a project to ring 90 quarters in 90 towers for the 90th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. Lots of ringing and quite a few “firsts”.

In June, I was also privileged to be invited to attend a reception in the Speaker’s House in the House of Commons again for the 90th birthday celebrations. I met many well-known faces including George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Quite an experience. Another interesting event on 27th June was the dedication of a refurbished single bell at St Mary Abchurch in the City of London. The historic bell had the full baptism service with incense and anointing, led by the Archdeacon of London.

Whilst many of you will be looking forward to summer holidays, the admin work of ringing continues in the background. I would urge you to do two things, firstly take advantage of the school holidays to get your young ringers on outings and to other local towers. Secondly, if you have not already done so, start arranging to have your tower open for the Heritage Open Days in the period 8th -11th September with ringing specially requested for 6pm on Thursday 8th. Good publicity if the moment is seized: don’t forget to register that you have an event.

Happy holidays and good ringing,

Chris Mew, July 2016

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


May 2016

Not intentionally but this is the second blog which has slipped to bi-monthly, just too much going on.

Following an Administrative Committee meeting on 19 th March it was a welcome break to go on holiday to Italy and Switzerland. I had the privilege in Verona of being met by the president of the Veronese Association and on Easter Sunday went round with the very hospitable Verona ringers, visiting no less than 7 towers in 2 hours – makes us look slackers.

The first key activity in April was the memorial service for Sir Arthur Heywood, first President of the Central Council, held at Denstone and the two-day “Heywood Weekend” ably organised locally by the Derby Diocesan Association. A full history of Sir Arthur Heywood appeared in the RW issue of 22nd April and this has been followed by a report in issue of 13th May. I think it is appropriate to pass on thanks of the Heywood family to all the ringing fraternity for recognising and celebrating their great grandfather.

The next week started by joining the Founders Company in their Court Lunch and the following day an interview and filming with the Wall Street Journal. The latter has now published a bell ringing related article and video including ringing at St Paul’s Cathedral and interviews with Martin Cansdale and Elva Ainsworth.

The next duty was to attend a Heritage Open Day conference in Birmingham, an earlier one in London having been attended by our PRO Kate Flavell. As many towers as possible are being encouraged to commit and register to ring in September: a flyer outlining the event and further information is available on the CC website. Do join in and get publicity for your tower and ringing. Who knows what recruits you might pick up.

I happened to be ringing in Leicester on the fateful day when the local team were presented with the Premier League Trophy. Needless to say the City was like a giant carnival and it was pleasing (and amusing) that as we waved from the Cathedral stairs gallery passers-by saluted, presumably in the belief that we were ringing for their team. Just goes to prove that people do notice and appreciate the ringing of bells.

The next Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Salisbury Guild AGM in Devizes and it was great to see not only good attendance but evidence of a lot of hard work in maintaining and developing local ringing. It was good to be presenting certificates including the “Most Improved Junior Ringer” award to Lewis Hurry, aged 13. Congratulations too to the Guild on winning the Tewkesbury Shield the previous weekend.

I will sign off now with the Council Meeting in Portsmouth looming in less than two weeks, if you are coming along do stop me and say hello.

Chris Mew, May 2016

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


March 2016

Missing blogs for 2016 – yes, it’s been a bit hectic even after having an extra day in February!

There has been plenty going on, not least the lively debates in the Ringing Wold about “secularised” ringing. This was followed with the media picking up on the “Is ringing a sport?” question. The latter started in The Times and quickly escalated to TV and Radio involving a number of Council Officers in interviews and also reporters descending on towers to film ringing. One crew member even arrived in lycra with a heart monitor. This is being taken seriously, however, and further dialogue has been engaged regarding the eligibility and benefit of ringing being categorised as sport.

Early in the year a response was given to the Church Buildings Council regarding its report on the future of churches and the implications for ringers. This will also be an ongoing exchange, some of concerns regarding disposal of redundant bells having already arisen previously.

I attended another CBC function in Westminster on 15th February regarding celebrations for HM the Queen’s 90th birthday. Seemingly ringers are ahead in their planning but all parishes should now have had prompts from their Dioceses regarding services and events.

Safeguarding advice based on the latest C of E requirements was circulated in January and already has raised some questions which will be clarified with Westminster. On a similar theme of safeguarding children, the Department of Education views on “radicalisation in teaching” did not appear to apply to ringing and response to consultation said just that.

In addition to the usual round of conference calls, I attended the Ringing World Board meeting in February and the position of the publication appears to have become more secure but still depends on all its supporters. The Annual Conference of ART took place on 12th March hosted by the Loughborough Bell Foundry. Once again the work of ART must be praised in the realms of teaching and advancement of new ringers, some of whom picked up well deserved awards. The day was highlighted by the opportunity to see 3 new bells being cast.

A successful conference was organised at Wellesbourne jointly by the Library and Biographies Committees with the whole proceedings being streamed live. Not only was there the chance to see a wide range of new and old publications but the subjects covered by speakers raised interesting issues.

Finally, there was the sad attendance at funerals of two prominent ringers, John Ketteringham best known as a bell historian and John Chilcott, for many years ringing master at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Next month sees major celebrations for Sir Arthur Heywood and Council’s 125th anniversary in Duffield, the 400th anniversary for William Shakespeare and most importantly Her Majesty the Queen’s real birthday on 21st April. I hope that you enjoy ringing for all these occasions.

Meanwhile a very Happy Easter,

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


December 2015

Right on the doorstep of Christmas I hope that this blog reaches you over the festive period and I will not repeat the “end of year” message in the RW issue of 18th December.

Recently we took a late holiday in Scandinavia enjoying unseasonably warm weather, trams, trains, Viking ships and travelling across the famous Oresund Bridge (yes the one in the TV series). Following this the run up to Christmas has been busy as it is for most people. I was privileged to speak at the Worcestershire & Districts Association Dinner and the next day attended the Ringing World Board meeting at which the all-important future of “our journal” was to the fore.

More local Warwick ringers prepared for the town’s Victorian Evening which was a huge success with an estimated 2,500 people passing through St. Mary’s church in one evening. A big attraction was the third (now annual) Christmas Tree Festival and the ringers’ tree won best prize for the second time. Our Guild Carol service included ringing on the newly augmented 6 at Leek Wootton drew over 80 members and featured a real ringer’s baby in the Nativity story.

Our Guild team which entered the National Youth Competition have all been encouraged to continue their advancement with special practices being arranged. What is more all but one of the team members have managed to ring a peal during the current year, it is possible to keep interest going.

Did you see?

  • Record length peal of Cambridge Maximus at South Petherton, RW 20 Nov.
  • Launch of ART Awards scheme, RW 27 Nov.
  • Success of major event at Tulloch Ringing Centre with no less than 29 quarters and 3 peals scored and many “firsts”, RW 27 Nov.
  • Reporting of our two “senior” societies, the College Youths and Cumberlands, which coincide in the RW issue of 11th December.

The Ringing World survey launched on 4th December has seen tremendous response both from subscribers and, importantly, non-subscribers. The future shape of the journal could well be influenced by views expressed and if you haven’t completed the questionnaire yet please do so.

There are plenty of ringing opportunities and challenges for 2016, in the meantime best wishes for New Year and new endeavours.

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


October 2015

I think this is September running late due to leaf fall season!

You will have seen that I was involved with dedication of new 6 at Leek Wootton (RW of 16 October) and the following week, like many of you, ringing for the Queen achieving status as the longest reigning monarch. The response to this was widespread and shows that ringers rise to the occasion for such national events. As I write this the Anniversary of the battle of Agincourt in 1415 is about to take place, no doubt more excuses to ring.

Later in September I had a most interesting meeting with Sir Peter Heywood, grandson of the famous Sir Arthur Heywood who was President of the CCCBR, method and composition composer and also narrow gauge railway builder. The discussion surrounded plans to celebrate both the 125th Anniversary of the Council’s first meeting in 2016 and the centenary of Sir Arthur’s death. Plans are being developed to hold a weekend of activities centred on Duffield over the weekend of 23rd /24th April. Yes it is also Shakespeare’s birthday and close to the Queen’s “real” 90th birthday but keep the date in your diary, more information to follow.

The start of October saw a meeting to discuss improvements to the Council website and other IT based services which are being progressed. This was followed by a review of Methods and associated “Decisions” at Southwark, a preliminary report having already appeared in the RW (page 1030). Whilst this is a highly technical and specialised subject it does cover all our four centuries of change ringing tradition.

The most recent gathering was the CC Admin Committee which looked to next year’s Council in Portsmouth, the forthcoming survey by the Trends Committee which is most important, and other necessary business.

Finally, you will be aware that the Ringing World Board has been examining the future and finances and shape of the ringing World and has been grateful for discussion and suggestions put forward from ringers. In order to be further informed on the desires of ringers regarding the newspaper, it is the intention to take a survey of all interested persons including existing subscribers. Please keep an eye open for further information on the launch of this survey shortly.

In between ringing activities I did manage to get a trip on the reopened Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank – by steam, superb.

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


July 2015

The sharp eyed will have noticed no blog for June, this was to ensure all the important happenings were rolled into one round–up.

The May Council meeting has already been well reported in the Ringing World issue of June 15th. The key departure from normal was the break-out sessions enabling representatives to discuss their local problems and successes and ways in which co- operation can face the challenge of future ringing. I would encourage ALL CC REPS to engage with their respective societies and feed back their views.

There was a marvellous response to the appeal for ringing to celebrate Magna Carta 800th Anniversary which seemed to catch the imagination of ringers worldwide. There was a predictably smaller celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. In the autumn there will be yet another anniversary, 600 years since Agincourt.

The national 12-bell competition gave Norwich its second grand event of the year, following on from the 300th First Peal Anniversary in May. Congratulations to ASCY in wresting the trophy from the 5-times winners Birmingham, will there be yet another change of victor next year at Aston?

Just two weeks later, the Ringing World National Youth Competition in Oxford proved once again that there are young people taking up and being passionate about ringing. The enthusiasm was infectious and the Bedfordshire team were again triumphant. It was interesting that a few of those taking part had been in all five years of the competition, no doubt starting at around 13.

All of the good summer events do not hide the fact that there is the continuing debate and work on recruitment and training of new ringers in an ever busier world. Much work is done behind the scenes by Council members and I would ask all members of Committees to redouble efforts to support their respective Chairmen.

Finally, the Church of England has in the past week agreed new guidance for Safer Recruitment of workers and volunteers. Whilst there are no fundamental changes in requirements for ringers there will be an update published shortly.

Many of you will be disappearing on holiday and I hope that you and your families will come back refreshed to serve ringing where you are.

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


April 2015

As I write this on St George’s Day many of you may have been marking the occasion with ringing for England’s patron saint or indeed for Shakespeare’s birthday. The forthcoming two months will see anniversary of VE Day in Europe over weekend of 9th May, and the historic 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta over the weekend of 13th/14th June. The latter may have ringers involved in the suggested community based “LiberTeas” as previously reported and I hope that as many as possible will support this event.

The Council’s March Administrative Committee was very much concerned with preparations for the May Council meeting in Hull and by the time you read this the Council Supplement should have arrived on your doormat with the Ringing World. I would ask all representatives to read through the minutes, papers and Committee reports now so that you can come to the meeting prepared to bring your views and those of your societies. An active part in the proceedings should be our way of showing that, contrary to any views to the contrary the Council is alive, well and listening.

May we remind Council members that a number of societies have not yet paid their affiliation fees to the Council. We would be grateful if you would check with your society Treasurer that the fee has been paid.

As part of the Council weekend the 8.00am morning service at Holy Trinity Hull will be broadcast by the BBC and ringers will be welcome to join the local congregation. The bells will be heard as part of the broadcast but the BBC are intending to record ringing in advance on Saturday 23rd May. Since many of the Beverley & District members will be involved with the open towers, will any members who could assist with ringing for the recording please advise James Blackburn by telephone -number 01482 631854. Time of ringing is to meet at Holy Trinity at 1.15pm.

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


The immediate “hot item” is the preparations for the re-interment of King Richard lll which featured as a front page article in the RW issue of 27th February. Elaborate ringing arrangements have been made by the Leicester Diocesan Guild and all ringers have been invited to ring locally to mark the occasion, preferably half-muffled up to 26th March inclusive and open thereafter.

Both I and Christopher O’Mahony were present at the ART conference on 7th March with Christopher talking about tower captain’s duties. The whole day was excellent and the sense of working together for the future very apparent.

I have been involved with two Radio broadcasts, one for Radio Solent and one for Premier Christian Radio, the latter which gave over 10 minutes to discussing ringing both historical and future. The only downside of these was having to be at the studios for 6.45 and 7.45am respectively!

The next DAC Bell Advisers conference has been confirmed for Friday 3rd July in Winchester and will include a talk by a Diocesan Secretary on their procedures. Further details will be published when known.

Did you see…

  • Historical anniversary of first peal of 42-spliced Royal (RW 6 Feb)
  • Progress with new “First Pealers” for 2015 (RW 13 Feb, page 156)

The latter initiative, whilst linked to the 300th Anniversary of the Norwich peal, is important in providing the platform to encourage new ringers to attempt their first peal. Whether in May or later in the year, do look around and see if there is anyone in your area who would benefit from attempting a first peal.

The CC Admin Committee will on 21st March be considering forthcoming business for the May Council and I would take the opportunity to remind you of the following requirements and deadlines:

  • Please complete any forms giving your “Expressions of Interest” in committee work.
  • Please give food and outing orders to the Beverley & District Organisers by 31st March, forms being included in CC Reps papers.
  • Any Motions for May to be with the Council Secretary by 13th April and nominations for Additional Members by 25th April.

With Easter being relatively early, Easter Sunday day being 5th April, I will take the opportunity of wishing you a Happy Easter and holidays as the next blog will follow on after.

Chris Mew, President CCCBR

Comments or questions from Council members or others are welcome:

E-mail Chris


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