News Items From 2017

April Training Morning

The second Association training morning of the year took place at the Edgmond Ringing Centre. The students were Lisa Basden, Emma Bentley, Wendy Frost, Catherine Greenfield, Shaun Greenfield, Jayne Hunt, Vicki Sivess, and Alice Turner. They hoped to make progress with one or more of: handling, call changes, plain hunting, treble bob hunting, Stedman Doubles. To help with these goals the ringing included Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Stedman Doubles, Grandsire Doubles, and Cambridge Surprise Minor.

Tony Freemont, the Association’s Training Officer was helped during the morning by Mark Adams, Jacqui Barden, John Burton, Rob Davis, Kathryn Greaves, Nick Green, Madeline Harris, Matt Lawrence, Peter Neil, Biff Patterson, and Cordelia Warr.

Thanks to Mark for preparing the bells and setting up the simulator.

The next Association training morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 29th September. If you would like to participate please contact Tony Freemont [email].

Return to top of page

April Surprise Major Practice

Fifteen ringers gathered at Meole Brace for the April Surprise Major practice. The practice started with a touch of Grandsire Triples, with local ringer Andy Digby on the tenor. This was followed by attempts at Bristol, Lincolnshire, London, Superlative, 3-spliced, and 7-spliced.

Thanks to Michael Carding for his hospitality.

Return to top of page

First Association Peal at Eccleshall

The fourth Association peal of the year has been rung at Eccleshall.

April Practice, EGM and Quarterly Meeting

These took place at Hinstock. Eighteen ringers took part and the ringing included call changes, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Plain Bob Doubles, Norwich Surprise Minor, and London Surprise Minor.

At the Extraordinary General Meeting, the change to Rule 7 of the Bell Restoration Fund, proposed by the committee, was passed unanimously. Rule 7 now reads:

The value of an individual grant may be up to whichever is the greater of 15% of the value of the project or 15% of the balance held in the Fund, calculated on the date the grant is awarded. The maximum grant will be £7,500 and no grant will exceed 50% of the value of the project.

The Quarterly meeting elected Helen Charnock, Alice Turner, Catherine Greenfield, Shaun Greenfield, Samantha Lloyd, Nell Oliver, and Helen Brockman as members of the Association.

Jad Bienek reported that the total funds held by the Association was £40,262. 73.

Geoff Harding reported that a BRF grant application had been received from Matt Lawrence for a simulator for Lilleshall. Matt had seen several simulator systems at the recent ART conference. The one he has chosen runs wirelessly and is portable, so it could be taken to other towers. The set-up will be used at Lilleshall in the training of new ringers and for general training purposes. The cost will be about £1000, half of which will come from the local councillor and the remainder from the BRF.

Madeline Harris spoke about the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which come into force on 25 May 2018 and will replace the Data Protection Act. Madeline asked that Bcc is used when sending emails to a group of Association members. Email addresses on the Association’s website are obfuscated, meaning they are more difficult to harvest, and personal addresses will not appear openly on the website.

Madeline informed those present that the Summer social event, to be held on 9 June, will include a barbecue at Judy and Chris Yates’s home at High Ercall. The November social event will be held at Shawbury Village Hall on 17 November.

Peter reminded the meeting about nominations for Honorary Life Membership – due before the September meeting of the committee. Peter also reminded members about long membership awards. Peter reported that Bishop Mark, the Association’s president, would be leaving Shropshire at the end of June, and there is a possibility that he will not be replaced.

Madeline alerted the meeting to various training opportunities coming up – Edgmond Saturday Training morning on 28th April (this training is fully subscribed); 6-bell practice at Broseley on Saturday 5 May, from 10am to 12noon.

Peter Woollam raised £27 for the BRF from the sale of raffle tickets. Prizes of a sweet and alcoholic nature were won by Madeline Harris, Geoff Harding, Matt Lawrence and Phil Murphy. Peter thanked those who had donated prizes.

Brian Kear announced that the 100+ Club had about 10 fewer members than last year, and he urges more members to join. The winners of the first draw of the year are: Gill Glover (£50), Gareth Jones (£25), Cynthia Costelloe (£15), Maureen Broom (£15), and Pat Paddock (£12).

Thanks go to Pat and Keith Swinnerton for organising the use of the bells and providing delicious refreshments.

April 8-bell Practice

They came from far and wide to participate in this practice. Twenty-four ringers had a go at call changes, Plain Hunt Triples, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, Middlesex Bob Triples, Single Oxford Bob Triples, and Double Norwich Court Bob Major.

The towers represented included Atcham, Baschurch, Broseley, Calverhall/Ightfield, Clive, Codsall, Edgmond, Hodnet, Llangollen, Market Drayton, Newport, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, Wem, Whitchurch, and Wrockwardine.

Thanks go to John Powell for allowing use of the bells.

Learning the Ropes at Lilleshall

Congratulations to Fiona and Julie for achieving Learning the Ropes Level 1 (Fiona) and 2 (Julie).

Learning the Ropes (LTR) is a structured, progressive scheme to learn the art of bell ringing – similar to music grades or karate belts. More details of the scheme can be found at http://www.learningtheropes.org/.


Julie and Fiona receiving certificates, with proud teacher Matt.

Words by Matt Lawrence
Photo by Libby Emery

Shropshire Ringers Go Continental

Ten years ago there were no bells on Continental Europe that were hung in the English style, and about 95% of all world towers with bells hung in this way are in England. But in 2008 a new English-style ring of eight bells was installed in Dordrecht, Holland, and for some ringers these have become a desirable destination for a weekend trip. They are something of a curiosity because the impetus for installing the bells was a Dutchman named Paul de Kok who was somehow inspired to learn to ring in the English way when a teenager. He really ‘got the bug’, taught his son Harm Jan and daughter Thirza, and all have become extremely competent bellringers. In cooperation with the local council in Dordrecht, the bells are installed in a building in the grounds of the Grote Kerk (Great Church), and Paul has complete control of the use of the bells. They can barely be heard outside the building so ringers can indulge themselves, and ring 24/7 if the wish! They are purely a secular ring, rung for the pleasure of the ringers, and are not rung for any services.

Although Paul and his family often visit England to satisfy their appetite for ringing, they also welcome visiting groups to go to Dordrecht – this then gives them the opportunity to enjoy their own bells.

A couple of years ago one of our Edgmond ringers, Bill Deason, thought it would be a good idea to organise a trip for some of his Edgmond, and other Shropshire ringing friends. He enquired about the availability of the bells to find that there was a waiting list - the earliest date we could go would be March 2018, so plans began to take shape.

Then in 2016/17 an appeal was launched to install a new ring of bells in St George’s Memorial Church, at Ypres, Belgium. This Church was built, complete with tower, after the First World War as a memorial to the war dead, but no bells were installed at that time. But the approach of the 100th anniversary of the end of the war provided the stimulus to raise the money and install the bells as a tribute to those who died in that terrible war, and they were duly hung and commissioned in remarkably short order in September/October 2017. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so our planned trip to Dordrecht was extended to include the new bells at Ypres.

On 9 March eighteen ringers from Shropshire (plus ten-month-old baby Enid) arrived in Dordrecht. We were warmly welcomed by Paul and his family. They have made something of an art form of welcoming visiting ringers and we were no exception – they organised our accommodation and our meals and gave us a wonderful experience. We are most grateful.

With the heaviest bell weighing only 1.5 cwt the bells are very light compared to most church bells, and small bells are often quite difficult to ring, but these have been cleverly hung and are relatively easy. Over the next day and a half, we made very good use of them and succeeded in completing a full peal, and four quarter peals, and with everyone ringing in at least one of these. The full peal, of Cambridge Surprise Major, was the first ever rung by a resident Shropshire Association band outside the UK. The methods rung for the quarter peals were Grandsire Triples, Yorkshire Surprise Major, Amsterdam Surprise Major and Dordrecht Surprise Major, the latter two giving a polite nod to our host country!

Apart from ringing, another highlight of this visit was the climb up the huge tower of the Grote Kerk to see the 67 bells of the carillon, but especially to see and hear Boudewijn Zwart, one of the leading carillon players in Europe, play Rule Britannia for our benefit! The bells of the carillon range in size from less than 50 kg to approximately 10 tonnes and the whole installation is centuries old – an awe-inspiring experience. We were also able to go to the top of the tower and take in the view of Dordrecht and the river Rhine.

After the meal together on the Saturday evening, our own Paul Lewis gave a hearty vote of thanks to the de Kok family for their very warm welcome and their hospitality, and to Bill Deason who had masterminded the whole trip. Bill had put in a tremendous shift, planning and advising the rest of the group on travel and all other arrangements.

Dinner at Dordrecht
Meal time in 't Klockhuys
View of Dordrecht From Church Tower
View over Dordrecht from the church tower

After more ringing and lunch on Sunday 11 March, the whole group set off by train from Dordrecht bound for Ypres, in western Belgium. After two changes of train and about 3 ½ hours we arrived there in early evening. An hour or so later we all assembled at the Menin Gate for the daily Last Post ceremony at 8pm. This took place with great reverence and dignity in front of a silent crowd of 200 to 300 people. It was good to see an air cadet band from a Yorkshire school taking part – children from British schools regularly feature in these ceremonies and hopefully through this will maintain the memory of all those who sacrificed their all.

After a meal and a good night’s sleep, most of us had time to take in the sights of Ypres for an hour or so next morning. Ypres was almost completely destroyed in the first war, including the enormous 13th century Cloth Hall. Centuries ago Ypres was an important centre of the linen industry in Flanders and did much trade with England, and the Cloth Hall was the centre of this industry. After the war, the main square, including the Cloth Hall, and much of the city was rebuilt to the same plans and designs as before, and today is a very attractive place to visit. Today Ypres has the title ‘city of peace’ and is twinned with Hiroshima, another city which suffered the worst of warfare.

St George’s church is full of plaques commemorating the fallen of regiments, or families or school Old Boys from the UK. It has a new vicar, a lady from England and she seems to be very active in reviving the fortunes of the church. Our slot for ringing the bells was from 11.30 till 1pm. The tower is small with room only for a light ring (tenor 6cwt) and there is not room in the ringing chamber for many people other than the eight ringers. We had a very enjoyable ring and I think did justice to the evocative venue. A local band is in training by experienced ringers from England and there is an ex patriate bellringer living in Ypres who has taken on the role of Tower Captain. They hope to be able to ring for Sunday services before too long.

After lunch with our hosts, we started to go our different ways. Some were staying on for a day or two to see more of the battlefields, some were returning by Eurostar and some flying home. This was a very memorable trip which was a privilege and a joy to be part of.

Dordrecht group
The group outside 't Klockhuys
Words by Edric Broom
Photos by Nick Green, Madeline Harris

Corporal Thomas William Belton

Corporal Thomas William Belton, 5th Bn., King's Shropshire Light Infantry and member of the St Chad’s and St Alkmund’s Society of Change Ringers, Shrewsbury, was killed in the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres) on 22 August 1917, aged 25 years. In the battle, lasting 3 months, over half a million Allied and German soldiers died.

‘Belton T W’ is recorded on a memorial plaque (no. 112) in Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, close to the village of Passchendaele, near Ypres, along with other casualties from the KSLI. Three members of the Association visited the cemetery during the recent ringing trip to Holland and Belgium. The name ‘Tyne Cot’ is said to come from the Northumberland Fusiliers, who saw a resemblance between the many German concrete pill boxes on this site and typical Tyneside workers' cottages (‘Tyne cots’).

Thomas Belton worked as a gardener at Berwick Hall, which is between Shrewsbury and Leaton. He was the son of Charles Henry and Elizabeth Belton of Barwell, Leicestershire, and married Maggie Ruddick on 16 January 1916.

His first peal, rung for the Salop Archidiaconal Guild, was Grandsire Triples at Oswestry on 7 December 1912. He also rang in the first peal, Plain Bob Major, on the newly recast bells at St Chad, Shrewsbury on 19 November 1914. His name appears on the peal board at St Chad’s recording this event.

Thomas Belton was one of two Shrewsbury ringers to die in the Great War. The other was Lance Corporal Tom Leonard Peel, 2nd Bn., South Wales Borderers, who died on 16 February 1917, aged 23 years. His body is buried in the St Marie Cemetery, Le Havre.

Tyne Cot cemetery
Tyne Cot Cemetery
Thomas Belton's name
Thomas Belton’s name recorded on plaque no. 112
Words and photos by Nick Green

Association Peal at Stoke St Milborough

The third Association peal of the year has been rung at Stoke St Milborough.

An Association Peal in the Netherlands

The second Association peal of the year has been rung at 't Klockhuys, Dordrecht.

March Association Practice

On a rather wintry evening ten Association members travelled to Tibberton for the monthly Association practice. As Tibberton has five bells Doubles methods/variations were the order of the day. The ringing included Plain Bob, Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place, Grandsire, Stedman, Dixon's Bob, Tyne, and Rhubarb.

The next Association practice will be held on Saturday 14 April, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, at Hinstock.
The ringing will be followed by an EGM (to discuss and vote on proposed changes to the BRF Rules) and a quarterly meeting.

ART Module 2C at Edgmond

Edgmond Ringing Centre was the venue for the latest Association of Ringing Teachers Course to be held in our area. It was Module 2C - Teaching Elementary Change Ringing, and again had local ringer Paul Lewis as Tutor. The day long course is the third, and currently last, of the three offered by ART, following on from those provided earlier at Edgmond: Module 1- Teaching Bell Handling, and Module 2F - Teaching from Rounds to Plain Hunt. A number of local ringers have attended all three courses and it is to be hoped that this will result in more efficient teaching in our towers, with better progress and retention.

SACBR members attending were Ginette Pardoe (Broseley), Neil Bragg and John Maclean (Coalbrookdale), Sue and Derek Dancey (Bicton), Biff Patterson and Gill Glover (Shrewsbury), and Liz Menhinick (Unattached). Other ringers attending came from various exotic locations as far away as Herefordshire.

The day followed the standard ART format of Power Point presentations leading into sessions on the Edgmond simulator putting the theory into practice. A wintry day meant the breaks for hot drinks and lunch were particularly welcome. There was much of interest in the material covered, especially a number of exercises and methods designed to break down into small steps the transition between Plain Hunt and Plain Bob.

ART 2C participants

Course participants

Text and photo by Alan Glover

February Surprise Major Practice

A select band of ten ringers gathered at Edgmond for the February Surprise Major practice. While waiting for an eighth ringer to arrive, a touch of Dixon's Bob Minor and Little Bob Minor was rung. This was followed by attempts at Rutland, Bristol, 8-spliced, and Dordrecht Surprise Major.

Thanks to Mark Adams for his hospitality.

February Association Practice

An enthusiastic band of twelve ringers attended the Association practice at Dawley. They enjoyed themselves by ringing call changes, Mexican waves, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Cambridge Surprise Minor, St Clement’s College Bob Minor, Dixon’s Bob Minor, and Rhubarb.

Peter Woollam raised £18 for the Bell Restoration Fund by running a raffle. The winners of the prizes of wine, chocolate confectionery, and tea were Nick Green, Kathryn Greaves, and Peter Woollam. Peter generously shared the sweets with those present.

Thanks to Simon Rice and the Dawley band for their hospitality.

February Training Morning

The first Association training morning of the year took place at the Edgmond Ringing Centre. Lisa Basden, Emma Bentley, Elaine Evans and Steve Evans, all from Atcham were the students. The ringing concentrated on Plain Bob Doubles, but also included Stedman Doubles, Grandsire Doubles, and Cambridge Surprise Minor.

Tony Freemont, the Association’s Training Officer was helped during the morning by Mark Adams, Jacqui Barden, Edric Broom, John Burton, Rob Davis, Gill Glover, Kathryn Greaves, Madeline Harris, Peter Neil, Ginette Pardoe, Biff Patterson, and Cordelia Warr.

Refreshments were available, as is usual on these occasions.

Thanks to Edric and Mark for allowing the use of the bells.

The next Association training morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 28th April. If you would like to participate please contact Tony Freemont [email].

February 8-bell Practice

This was held at Hodnet and seventeen ringers came along. The ringing included Call Changes, Grandsire Triples, Plain Bob Triples and Stedman Triples.

The towers represented included Atcham, Baschurch, Edgmond, Hodnet, Market Drayton, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, Whitchurch, and Wrockwardine.

Thanks to John Powell for allowing use of the bells.

January Surprise Major Practice

Thirteen members travelled to Wem to participate in this practice. Methods rung included London, Lincolnshire, Superlative, and 6-spliced.

Thanks to Gareth Jones and Karen Compton for organising use of the bells.

The First Association Peal of 2018

The first Association peal of the year has been rung at St Mary's church in Shrewsbury. The last time a peal of Stedman Caters was rung for the Association was in 1976, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Shropshire Association. Neil Bennett is the only ringer to ring in both those peals.

A total of sixteen peals of Stedman Caters have been rung for the Association. The first was the second peal for the Association and was rung at Coalbrookdale during the visit of Princess Mary to Shropshire in November 1926.

Association Practice and 2017 AGM - January 2018

This was held at Holy Trinity church, Meole Brace. Prior to the Service of Thanksgiving about twenty five members came together to ring call changes, Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Hunt Triples, Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples and 3 leads of Bristol Surprise Major.

Another thirty or so ringers turned up in time for (tea and) the Service, which was led by the Association’s president, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, The Rt Rev Mark Rylands. Bishop Mark preached on the subject of leaders as servants of those they lead.

The Meole Brace ringers’ catering team provided a delicious meal of lasagne, salad, and garlic bread followed by a large array of puddings and tea and coffee.

Bishop Mark got the meetings under way.

At the Quarterly Meeting which preceded the AGM, the following were elected as members of the Association: John Richards (Cheswardine), Daniela Heinze (Ellesmere), Denzal Evans (Hinstock), Jenny Evans (Hinstock), Julie Hartridge (Lilleshall), Anne Richards (Lilleshall), Ellie Richards (Lilleshall), Annette Broughton (St Martins), Steve Broughton (St Martins), Tom Willis (Meole Brace), Lynette Summers, (Shrewsbury), John Strickland (Calverhall/Ightfield), Robin Vernon (Calverhall/Ightfield).

The Ringing Master, Madeline Harris, described the 'Ringing for Peace: Armistice100' programme being organised by the Central Council, and the 'Ringing Remembers' project which aims to recruit 1400 ringers in memory of the 1400 ringers who lost their lives fighting in WW1.

After the usual business of apologies, minutes of the last AGM, and matter arising from the Minutes, Madeline gave her Ringing Master’s report which touched briefly on a few of the highlights of the year, including:

  • the twenty two peals that had been rung, the highest number of peals in a year since 1981;
  • Annette Bailey and John Peppiatt rang their first quarter peals during the year;
  • the outing to North Wales in June; the ceilidh in November, and the cancellation of the Carol Service because of the snow in December.
  • the practices for young ringers being run by Matt and Gail Lawrence, and the ART module 1 training session held at Edgmond.

Madeline thanked the Committee for their hard work, and all those members who had supported the Association by buying raffle tickets or joining the 100+ Club. She also thanked all towers that had hosted meetings and events. The support of Bishop Mark Rylands and Archdeacon Paul Thomas for the Association was also appreciated.

Susan Capey reported on the accounts of the Association. The meeting voted to change the split of the annual subscription to £4 each to the Bell Restoration Fund and the general fund. Susan also announced that protracted correspondence about insurance for Association ringers had taken place with Ecclesiastical Insurance, and a firm quote was expected soon. The Independent Examiners, Brian Kear and Karen Compton, had inspected and approved the accounts and Brian reported that he and Karen were happy with how the accounts had been presented.

Geoff Harding (Bell Adviser) reported that BRF grants had been made to St Chad’s, Shrewsbury and to Wem. Geoff thanked Association members for their support of the Bell Restoration Fund. Geoff also reported that ringing had taken place at Selattyn, and a grant had been approved for work on the ground pulleys and the clappers. Geoff also reminded members that grants for materials for ‘self-help’ projects are also available.

Jan Snowball (Safeguarding Officer) said that she had received no reports requiring investigation.

Edric asked whether Kemberton church was staying open as he had heard that it would be closing. Andrew Gordon and Bishop Mark assured him that this is not the case.

Elections for the Committee for 2018 were held. David Beckwith was elected as Treasurer, and Matt Lawrence was elected as an ordinary Committee member. Apart from the position of Social Secretary which remains unfilled, all the other Committee positions remained as they had been at the end of 2017.

Madeline explained a proposal to change rule 7 of the Bell Restoration Fund to allow larger grants to be awarded. The proposal is that Rule 7 be changed to read:
The value of an individual grant may be up to whichever is the greater of 15% of the value of the project or 15% of the balance held in the Fund, calculated on the date the grant is awarded. The maximum grant will be £7,500 and no grant will exceed 50% of the value of the project.”
Madeline gave notice that an Extraordinary General Meeting will be held on 14 April 2018 at Hinstock (to coincide with the Quarterly Meeting) to vote on the rule change.

Certificates were also presented by Bishop Mark to several members to mark their 25 years membership of the Association.

On behalf of the Ringing Master, Bishop Mark presented the St Alkmund’s Cannons to Matt Lawrence for his work during the year with the youth group.

The Meole Brace ringers were thanked were expressed in the usual way for their hospitality and for providing a delicious meal.

Peter Woollam sold raffle tickets, raising £127 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The glittering array of prizes was won by Peter Jenkins, Tony Freemont, Nick Scott, John Peppiatt, Lewis Roberts, Matt Lawrence, Derek Dancey, Geoff Harding, Jan Snowball, Chris Yates, Mark Adams, Peter Woollam and Cordelia Warr. Peter thanked all those who donate prizes for the raffles.

The final draw of the year in the 100+ Club was made by Brian Kear who thanked all those who participated in the 100+ Club and said that about £800 will have been raised for the BRF. Brian said that forms for 2018 would be going out to towers in February. The winners were: £50 – Jacob Sims (Whitchurch), £25 – Andrew Cherill (Hinstock), £15 – Peter Hampton (Meole Brace), £15 – Carol Edwards, £12 – Jan Snowball (Oswestry), £10 – Judith Byne (High Ercall).

The next AGM will be held at Wem on Saturday 12th January 2019.