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Out and About in the guild – Improving Ringers monthly practice morning at Bletchington.

I attended an enjoyable, instructive morning event led by Steve Vickars with lots of assistance from skilled ringing friends. The purpose of the monthly practice was to address a need that Steve had identified to bring on improving ringers. The morning provides a regular opportunity to develop skills.

In Steve’s words:

“I had become rather frustrated that our improving ringers were not getting the practice they needed at weekly practices (not enough experienced ringers) or branch practices (too variable in numbers and too large a range of abilities and expectations).

In 2019 I had organised several focussed practices for local ringers who wanted to ring treble, tenor, and inside to doubles or minor methods, calling on my network of ringing contacts. These were successful and popular.

After I retired in December 2022, I decided to run monthly daytime practices, starting in February 2023, for ringers who could already plain hunt and wanted to improve their method ringing.

We are fortunate to have the use of Bletchingdon tower, a ground floor ring with kitchen facilities, parking, and very easy-bells. We limit the number of students to six or seven and have at least eight helpers, who can ring inside, call touches and stand with students. Students bring cake and biscuits to give to the helpers with a cup of tea or coffee.  The atmosphere is very relaxed and informal.

We have held these practices usually on Wednesday mornings, which seems to be a good time to get helpers.  The practices are incredibly popular and give our students a really good experience of ringing with a strong band.

I feel that this format could be replicated to great success in other areas. All it needs is collaboration between experienced ringers, a set of easy bells to ring, basic catering facilities and some organisation.  This format could equally be applied successfully at different levels, including Foundation, surprise minor, triples and major, provided there are sufficient helpers and students with a minimum level of experience.”

The happy group after a successful practice morning!

Karen Pile & Steve Vickars