We’re coming home!

It’s great to be back in the tower again!  We are limited to six ringers – but the very features that people tell us are the downsides of Kildwick tower (a door opening directly outside; a draught howling through the ringing chamber; a ceiling somewhere up there in the cloudbase) are just the features that make ringing in these Covid-ridden times more possible.

With our ground floor ring, we need not limit the numbers;  six in the tower, ringing – and any others, sitting in the churchyard, listening.

And we’re doing well, too.  We’re all a bit rusty after a long lay-off.  It’s also salutary to realise that, when you ring regularly,  your hands do toughen up a bit and muscles do build up.  There’s nothing to notice at the time – but you do realise you’ve missed it when starting again!

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Another certificate for the board…

Well… we arrived and rang.  We were always going to be in what could kindly be termed, the “Foundation Places” – and so we were.  In the company of a load of seasoned experts, it couldn’t be otherwise.

But our MiniRingers still did brilliantly!  They held up their end in fine style – they rang as well as I’ve seen them ring and in no way were they “a miserable bottom”.  We listened to recordings of the four finallists and several folk said, “you were better than that!”

There were 16 bands in two heats – a total of 96 ringers.  If others did as we did and had a separate caller, then we may have cracked the 100 tally.  We couldn’t, sadly, hear the other bands.  Technology didn’t allow that.  The communal chat room was encouraging and there were several plaudits from others – and there was an invitation to the MiniRingers to join the Brumdingers – another young people’s band – in a joint practice.  We did that – and had a wonderful time, ringing for some of the time on 16 bells!

We are truly beginning to spread our wings…

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Oooh Errr…!

Today, we were invited to join the National On-Line Virtual Call Change Striking Contest!  And by no less a person than the President of the Central Council…

If we compete (and that’s to be decided), we’ll be up  against other youth bands – but also some of the top ringers in the country, includingsome of the specialists in call change ringing – from the towers of Devon and North Cornwall.  I can promise that even if we do enter, we won’t win, but we may give some bands a run for their money!

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MiniRingers in the spotlight

The Award presentation imageA great evening last night on Zoom!

It was the ART Awards Night.

The Association of Ringing Teachers awards don’t come with golden statues, but they are highly regarded in ringing circles and they do come with a certificate and a cheque!

This year, of course, it took place on Zoom (so attendance was good!) There were some remarkable nominations in a wide variety of categories – amazing people doing amazing things. The Kildwick MiniRingers were nominated in the Youth category. I’m just pleased that we didn’t have to compete with some of the others!

The Sarah Beacham Youth Award is in memory of a lass who I rang with on several occasions who died in a motor accident some years ago. We were up against a number of other groups – the most impressive of which is a school in Guernsey which has, to a significant degree, incorporated bell ringing into their curriculum. They shared the prize with us.

This was a truly international affair.  As prize winners, we shared the platform with the couple from the West Coast of the USA who invented the remarkable Ringing Room software that we are all using during this lockdown.  There was another lady from Australia who has developed a community that uses Ringing Room to ring with others, regardless of where they are.  The St Martin’s Guild from Birmingham won the award for inspiring leadership and the Learning the Ropes Achievement Award was won by a 9 year-old, Donny Brock from Roos in East Yorkshire.  There were several others!

The cash prizes aren’t enormous (our £400 was the second highest of the night).  I think I value the certificate just as highly!  We will have to decide on a fitting use for this prize that will benefit present and future MiniRingers.

An overview of the winners can be viewed on the Ringing Teachers’ website

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We gave it our best shot…

Our Thursday Ringing Room band is making great progress!

Our performances are clearly not up to the standards of all those Clever Ringers out there, but when you combine the average age of the participants (just over 12) – and the fact that half of them have never rung a change in their lives – and that two of them have barely set foot in a ringing chamber of any sort, then it is pretty amazing stuff!

We all know that it is far easier to introduce someone to an activity like bell ringing when there is a competent band around them.  These six young people are doing this almost on their own by Distance Learning and, tired as they must be of staring at a screen all day for school work, they still spend an hour a week, tackling the complexities of Bobs and Singles.

They are making great progress though and, to celebrate our menbership of the Western Branch which is holding a Quarter Peal Month, we decided to see what we could achieve.

The headline tally of 240 changes sells the band a bit short – we tried ringing as many touches as possible but, of course, only counted the ones fully completed.  We didn’t count the 120 that fell apart in the very last lead!  We didn’t count the 60 that died at the second bob with two leads to go.

All in all, we probably rang around half of a quarter peal though, of course, it’s recorded as “240 changes”.  But very well done, all of you!

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Oh, No!

… so it’s back to Lockdown 3

Following the announcement of a further period of national lockdown, with heavy hearts, we have decided that it is right to suspend public worship in our church buildings for now.

The regulations don’t actually ban public worship but, considering the increased threat caused by the new variants – and the largely elderly profile of the congregation, this seemed to be the correct and responsible decision to take.

For the safety of our clock winders, I am afraid that we have also made the sad choice to stop the church clock.  Ringing, is of course also suspended.

Our faithful band of Ringing Room Ringers is carrying on regardless!

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No Festival this year

Kildwick Foundry BellsAlthough the decision is pretty academic for the Kildwick MiniRingers, there will be no Skipton Music Festival this year – and so no chance to defend the two trophies that they won last year.

Even if the Festival had gone ahead, it would almost certainly have been for solo performances only. And, anyway, we can’t meet to rehearse!

Last year’s Festival got through by the skin of its teeth, Lockdown 1 being announced as it drew to a close.  Let us hope and pray that the centenary celebrations of 2022 will be able to go ahead.

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Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to you all!

It was a real joy, yesterday, to take advantage of the Christmas relaxation of the rules – and to sound out joyfully for Christmas.

Bells across the country sounded out together and we rang at 6.00pm, albeit just with five bells.  That is the maximum we can ring whilst maintaining social distancing regulations.

Theresa, one of our ringers who wasn’t ringing yesterday, took some video footage.
See it here!

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Establishing a new Routine

So… it’s Lockdown 2

The tentative first steps into Ringing Room have begun to develop into something a good deal more solid – and the average age of the ringers has taken a decided plummet!

With a good deal of help from Jane and Jenny, the practice has become focused on our younger ringers – and has shown the special joy of “remote ringing” because we’ve been joined by three people from Deepest Wales!  They comprise Sara, an accomplished ringer who has no easy access to any ringing locally – and two of her children – who have only ever had a passing glimpse of a bell tower.

So we seem to be meeting regularly with eight or nine each week – and we’r dividing our time between Plain Bob, one or two “different” minimus methods (fewer bells make for easier ringing!) – and some tune ringing as well.

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The first Kildwick practice for some weeks

We met – a few of us – and rang together!

Just five of us gathered and by the end of the session we had managed three leads of Bob Doubles.  Of course, this was a “virtual meeting” which, once we had ironed out the conference software, worked well.

It’s really hard to ring without all of the external prompts and clues that we’re so used to – but that difficulty is, I suspect, a great deal of the value of this.  As we get more used to counting places, we’ll get better and better at this!

Everyone reckoned to come back next week – so it can’t have been all pain…

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