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Old North Berks Branch - Young Ringers Outing

St Giles, Oxford, Monday 3rd September 2018

Every year early in September, the road between St Mary Magdalen and St Giles churches in Oxford is transformed into a magnificent fairground for two days. There are large and small fairground rides as well as stalls selling all manner of hot and cold foods, etc. The crowds and the noise are phenomenal! To allow the people some respite from the clamour, St Giles’ church traditionally opens and serves tea and cakes. And the ringers there like to ring changes on handbells as PR for bell ringing and as quiet entertainment for those in the church.

This was the second time we had used this event as an opportunity for the young ringers to ring both church bells and handbells at St Giles. After all, with all the noise of the fairground, the tower bells were hardly going to matter to anyone trying to work nearby! And the vicar was pleased at having a group of young people happily trying to ring handbells as entertainment for the visitors.

There were eight young ringers there plus ten adults including some ringers. The young people represented just four branches this time: Old North Berks Branch, Oxford City Branch, Reading Branch and Witney & Woodstock Branch. Ringing ranged from call changes and plain hunt to plain bob doubles and triples. By request, we rang some ringing games: “Twister” (taking turns twisting to face the wall while ringing rounds) and also “killer” involving standing after a number of whole pulls determined by a die.

The church ladies provided some lovely filled bread rolls, cake and drinks as our refreshments, and then the young people paired up to try to find the answers to a quiz sheet about the church.

We followed this by taking out our handbells. We attempted to ring plain hunt: standing in a row in front of the pulpit with one bell each and swapping place physically with a neighbour between each ringing along the row. It worked with just six young people, but was not quite so successful with twelve (including three children who were just visiting the church).

Tunes were then rung on handbells using simple numeric music. We were surprised and glad when the congregation burst into applause after our rendition of “My Grandfather’s clock”.

Meanwhile, some of the parents had been marking the church quiz sheets. We rounded off the afternoon by announcing the answers and awarding small chocolate bars as prizes before the young people dispersed.

The next ONB branch young ringers outing will be in half term week, probably on Wednesday 25th October. Please reserve the date.


Susan Read

ONB Training Officer,

12th September 2018

Old North Berks Branch - Young Ringers Outing,

Iffley and Cowley outing, Wednesday 4th April 2018


Iffley must have been surrounded by farmland and the river until relatively recently, but of course was swallowed up within Oxford around a hundred years ago. We drove down the main street, which still feels like a village with many narrow turnings which looked as if they might lead to fields and orchards. At the end it broadened out to frame the attractive honey coloured church. There we happily met up, nearly twenty ringers including seven young ringers under eighteen years old.


Lots of branches were represented among the seven young ringers: Banbury Branch, East Berks and South Bucks Branch, Oxford City Branch, Reading Branch and Witney & Woodstock Branch each were represented as well as two from our own Old North Berks Branch. We have often had more young people but lots were away with their families, making good use of the two week break from school.


We enjoyed the lovely Iffley bells, and especially remember the unusual central pillar in the ringing chamber! Our young ringer from Amersham called some excellent call changes for us. We also rang some Plain Bob, Stedman and Erin doubles. For a game, we threw a dice to decide which named change from a list to pull off in, then rang plain hunt on five from that change! It made our young ringers think, but they rung it successfully.


We were treated to an excellent talk and visit to Iffley church by Elizabeth, a member of the congregation there. It was difficult to believe that the beautiful crisp carving on the outside stonework of the church was nearly 900 years old! And it was fascinating to hear about the anchorite who built a cell against the north wall of the church with a window into the church. She lived there and devoted herself to Christ for ten years, never stepping outside her cell, until she died.


We walked the mile to St James, Cowley along what must have been a farm track between the two villages. There we were treated to scones, biscuits, cake, tea and pop kindly provided by Daphne. And we rang the light bells there, including a requested game of Twister as well as the proper methods.


The next ONB young ringer outing will be in the Half Term holiday, probably on Wednesday 30th May, (venue yet to be decided). Offers to organise something very gratefully received!


Susan Read

ONB Training Officer,

5th April 2018


Master's Blog - March 2018

Simon Linford’s article in a recent edition of the Ringing World talks about how the St Martins Guild questioned and discussed their vision and role for the future. This has inspired me to start the same conversation here in the ODG.  At the General Committee meeting on 10th March we are planning to have discussions on the following questions:  

1 What should tomorrow's ODG be like to be successful?

2 What is the best use of the General Committee?

3 What should the top priority be for the Guild?

It will be interesting to see what comes up.  Let us know your thoughts   In the meantime, we will keep you posted!

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