Our latest Young Ringers outing took place in and around Newbury on a chilly February day in half term. It was a really great day and I got to make lots of new friends who were all excellent ringers. The most fun part of the day was getting to try the bells at three different church towers. We started at Speen, walked on to Shaw (in the wind and rain!) and finished at St Nicholas’ in Newbury town centre. St Nicholas had really loud bells which apparently my brother could hear from the other side of the town!
Trying out at different towers gave me a bit more confidence when facing new bells. It was a really great day and I am looking forward to future outings.
Following a year of preparation, on Friday 5th July 2019, 10 young members of the ODG set off for Liverpool to take part in the Ringing World National Youth Striking Competition (RWNYC) which took place on Saturday 6th. After meeting Sophie who came up by train having set out very early on the Saturday morning, the team headed for some general ringing at a couple of ‘interesting’ 8’s at Bootle and Walton, producing some ringing of a somewhat mixed quality. More through the quality and ‘ringability’ of the bells than anything else. Daniel’s angry face was quite a picture when he seemed to be having some difficulty with the 2nd at Walton.
The team’s designated slot at the beautiful 42cwt 12 at St Nicholas, Pier Head was immediately before lunch, after which everyone settled for a few hours of good practice on handbells and some good fun on the mini rung in the ground of St Nicholas. It would have to be said that it was hard for the smaller bells to compete with the sound of the grand tower bells emanating from the tower almost all of the day.
Having been drawn to ring 22nd out of 24 entrants, the team set off for St Francis Xavier (8 @ 16cwt) ready for their big moment at 4pm. Following an allowed 5 minutes of practice, the following band performed 168 Grandsire Triples as their test piece:
Izzy Anderson-Besant (South Oxon)
Daniel Page (Reading)
Corey Gibson (Central Bucks)
Ben Gladwyn (EBSB)
Thomas Sherwood (Reading)
Sophie Martin (Old North Berks)
Dougie Vale (C) (North Bucks)
Josh Ball (Old North Berks)
By the time everyone had returned to Pier Head, there was not long to wait for the results at 6pm. In the packed church, the tension within the team was high as we got down to the last two teams with the ODG yet to be named. A tension that was abruptly let loose as the second place team was announced, confirming that the ODG had indeed won.
They had done it, first place in the National Competition. The team collected their medals and the Whitechapel Trophy was duly handed to Dougie, which Sophie subsequently managed to drop on the floor, much to the hilarity of all present. This did not however detract from the visible delight at having been placed first in such a prestigious event.
Judging comments – You rang steadily but in a controlled manner. You had a good sense of what you were doing as a team which kept you going through the odd inaccuracy. The roll ups and downs were executed well. Pleasing. Well done.
While the Old North Berks branch holds little outings for young ringers each school holiday, this time we decided to be more adventurous and organise a big day out especially for young ringers in the whole Guild. Visiting Oxford was an ideal choice.
Nineteen young ringers from around the ODG and around thirty parents including some ringers met in Oxford on the chilly but sunny morning, ready to ring at seven towers in central Oxford. Our first two towers were the light tens at St Thomas and St Mary Magdalen. Ringing was good, ranging from rounds to plain hunt on nine to surprise major.
St Giles, just up the road had a steep stair ending with a ladder into a very crowded ringing room. We rang plain bob and grandsire triples as well as rounds and call changes.
At lunch time we had a treat! We provided our own packed lunches, but the Parish Room had lots to entertain us – firstly Daphne’s wonderful selection of cakes and scones and things to drink. Then an excellent book stall with ART books that many of us hadn’t seen before. Also there was the chance to ring plain hunt on handbells with some experts. But perhaps best of all, Alan Griffin had brought along his dumbbell with a competition to ring it as the tenor behind to Grandsire Doubles and to get the best score for our striking! Ten of the young ringers had a go. (Some had two goes!)
There was a longer walk to the best bells of the day, Magdalen College where the gloomy ringing chamber is furnished with ancient leather covered sofas and some even older wooden pews. We were nervous that the worthy members of the Oxford Society who had arranged all the towers for us would not approve of the standard of our ringing. But they reassured us that we were fine and commented that they had heard much worse ringing from some of the other visiting bands who had come there!
Next there was the light eight at Lincoln College and the six at St Aldates where the prize giving was announced. Josh and Jamie won the handsome big Easter Eggs for their top scores on Alan’s dumbbell. All those who completed the quiz sheet received a smaller Easter Egg, and these seemed to disappear really quickly!
The last tower was Carfax at the central cross roads of Oxford. Not all stayed to the end at 6.30 pm, but those who did enjoyed this fine, but challenging six.
Some of the comments on the day:
“I would like to thank you for the experience of ringing at new towers with new people. I thoroughly enjoyed the day”;
“It improved my ringing and confidence about it”
“Thank you very much for arranging the whole trip and I will be sure to come along to anything else planned in the future.”
The new Volunteer & Leadership committee (V&LC) of the Central Council is keen to promote ringing for young people. The ODG offered to hold this Ringing Festival in Oxford as a test of the concept for the V&LC. We were pleased with how well it turned out and hope it encourages similar future ventures.