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Established January 17 1881

Discussion Forum March 2015

1.What have towers in your branch done to attract ringers, and what has worked?

  • Open days; particularly attractive if people can go up to roof for view. Follow-up important.
  • Opened towers to visitors to coincide with civic events: good interest, but only one recruit.
  • Adverts in church, church notices, parish/village magazine articles; tower's own website.
  • Good relations with people in parish office who eagerly publicize need for new ringers.
  • Leafleting homes in parish. Success partly down to New Year timing: people seeking fresh start.
  • Publicity for retuning and rehanging of tower's bells.
  • Church events: coffee morning, ringing before garden party, tower open to visitors during fete.
  • Talks to schools/groups; Scout group visits; Duke of Edinburgh awards (but retention a problem).
  • Specific appeals to lapsed ringers.
  • Adults come forward, often attracted by friends who ring and social aspect (including pub after).
  • Publicity exercises - newsletters, leaflet drops, posters on noticeboards/lampposts, local papers/radio, incl. nearby villages with no bells – prior to introductory prog with short talk on what ringing is about, demo & tour of belfry, followed by have-a-go session with trained teacher.
  • Use of "Learning the Ropes" scheme of one-to-one sessions with a teacher who will take them to Level 1 (basic handling) stage, after which they are able to take part in practices.
  • Demo of how bells work useful in early stages to combat fear factor; band tries to get beginners up to see the bells, and has a hand-held demo model.
  • Making recruits part of band from Day 1 with rounds at backstroke with others; encouraging people to feel valued, trained and encouraged.
  • Taster session on practice night, followed up with further training. This tower had the help of two experienced ringers and now has two new Sunday service ringers.
  • Sufficient trainers in both capability and number.
  • Ensuring quick progression to plain hunt – young recruits bore quickly, older ones can find it harder to learn.
  • Second beginners' practice during week as well as before main practice aids speed of progress.
  • Ask young ringers (10-12) to bring friends; older youngsters to bring parents. One mum came with her teenage children; they gave up but mum learnt and became long-term tower member.
  • Provide a happy, relaxed, social environment where ringers can progress at their own pace, with no pressure on, or criticism of, individuals who are slow, or fail, to grasp new methods.
  • Be prepared for disruption: more complicated ringing might take a back seat for a while.

2) People don't always stay – what have your towers found are the main reasons given for leaving?

  • Children often keen as long as their peers are (but can leave because of teasing from non-ringing peers – ringing not seen as “cool” in this age group); pressures of schoolwork often intervene, or they go off to university and leave the exercise.
  • “Life cycle events”: Youngsters grow up and move away (older people do stay but may progress slowly if they are new ringers); Older ringers become too infirm to handle a bell safely; Demands on time such as work schedules, having a baby/other family commitments, other interests.
  • Personality clashes within a tower, or wider church politics.
  • Beginners' deciding ringing is not for them/failing to progress. This has also happened with some who were regular service ringers for some years but felt they had stagnated. Frustration or a feeling of being in the way leads to learners giving up.
  • It is a much slower process to become “competent” than many expect.
  • Beginners can be scared off if they are worried about breaking the stay and causing damage. Showing them around the bells helps with this.
  • Reluctance to make regular commitment to practice/inability to do so because of unpredictable working patterns (but this becomes less of an issue once they are meshed into the band).