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.
ONB Training Officer,
12th September 2018