Fancy getting roped in for a bit of bell ringing?
A shortage of new recruits is putting the future of bell ringing in jeopardy, it is claimed.
Now an appeal has gone out for people in Huddersfield to learn the ancient art.
It’s part of the Ringing Remembers campaign to recruit 1,400 new bell ringers nationwide in memory of the 1,400 bell ringers who died in the First World War.
According to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers there are 104 working bell towers in West Yorkshire – several of them in Huddersfield – and 450 across the whole of Yorkshire. There are about 6,000 working bell towers across the UK.
Virginia Crompton, of community interest company Big Ideas who is leading the New Year call for bell ringers, said: “If you want to feel part of your local community, bell ringing could be for you.
“Bell towers are commonly found in churches, but you don’t have to go to church to become a bell ringer. Ringing bells used to be what social media is to people today – a way of sharing information across long distances. It’s a hobby steeped in tradition and a fun way to connect to British culture.”
Alan Trebble, 61, who lives at Newsome, started bell ringing at the age of 11 when he left junior school in Beverley.
He said: “A teacher at school was a ringer and he asked two or three of us to come down to St Mary’s at Beverley during the summer. I struggled at first, but by the time I was 14 when I was a little bit older and a little bit fitter it started to look like I could cope.”
Alan said the shortage of bell ringers reflected the decline in numbers involved in church matters in general.
He added: “Fifty years ago when I was a teenager, youngsters went to Sunday school and were members of the Church Lads’ Brigade or sang in the church choir – or went into bell ringing.”
Now he helps “ring the changes” for Sunday services, weddings, funerals and other special events at local churches including Armitage Bridge and Huddersfield Parish Church.
“It’s a hobby that gives you something to do,” he said. “It’s a very sociable thing, you meet a lot of different people and it’s a great leveller. Anyone can learn to ring. It keeps you fit and it keeps your brain going because there’s a lot of brain work involved and it takes a lot of concentration. And we all go for a beer afterwards!”
Bell ringer Alan Regin, of London, who has compiled a list of bell ringers who died in wartime, said: “I was a youngster when I started ringing peals – that’s the more advanced bell ringing for extended periods – and wherever I rang I was often the youngest bell ringer in the band. Now – close to half a century later – I am, on occasions, still the youngest and this concerns me.
“I’d love people in Huddersfield to help 2018 become the Year of the Bell.”
If you are interested in trying bell ringing, email firstname.lastname@example.org and the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers will connect you to a local bell ringing teacher. It takes around three months to learn to ring and classes are usually held once a week and are generally free. All new recruits in 2018 will receive a Ringing Remembers badge for taking part.