News Items From 2019

Shropshire Ringers Go Continental Again

Last year, a group of us paid a flying visit to Ieper, tagged on to a weekend in Dordrecht. Although some of the party stayed an extra day, there is so much to see and do we soon decided it would be good to go back and spend a bit more time exploring the area. Once again Bill Deason was the driving force, and soon we had a hotel booked and ringing slots organised. We felt it would be fitting to dedicate our peal and quarter peal attempts to those ringers from Shropshire who gave their lives in the two World Wars, and with this in mind we applied to take part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate and lay a wreath.

Twelve of us set off on Friday 5th April and met up in what was to become our most visited restaurant for a convivial start to the trip. Saturday saw a successful peal on the easy to handle and lovely sounding bells of St George’s Memorial Church. After a delicious lunch provided by the local ringers, some of us spent the afternoon helping them to practise call changes and plain hunting. In the evening we gathered at the Menin Gate for the ceremony. The wreath was laid by the Master of the Association accompanied by two past Masters and the youngest member of the group.

Three quarter peals were scored over the next two days, the last being specially arranged for Liz Millward, who had spent her birthday looking after us. By the time we headed home on Monday afternoon, we had all rung a peal or quarter, most had visited battlefields and cemeteries, walked the ramparts, sampled the local beer and eaten a lot of chocolate.

Thanks from us all to Bill for making it happen, Liz for her excellent hospitality, and especially remembering all those brave young men.

Ypres Tour Band April 2019

The tourists outside St George's church, Ieper

Text: Gail Lawrence
Photo: Matt Lawrence

April Association Training Morning

The second Association training morning of the year took place at the Edgmond Ringing Centre on Saturday 27th April, and was rather short of trainees, perhaps due to the proximity to Easter. The students were Darren Swancott (Broseley), Shaun Greenfield (Shifnal) and a visitor, Nick, who is a learner at Ludlow. They aimed to make progress with one or more of: handling, call changes, plain hunting, Plain Bob Doubles and Plain Bob Minor, and all departed well satisfied. The morning finished with a course of Cambridge Surprise Major, requested by Ginette.

Matt Lawrence, the Association’s Master, directed proceedings and was helped during the morning by Mark Adams, Edric Broom, John Burton, Bill Deason, Nick Green, John Neal, Ginette Pardoe and Biff Patterson.

The superior refreshments that are usually provided by Madeline were sorely missed but we made do with shop-bought biscuits!

Report by Biff Patterson

Major E R Trevor Corbett

In his librarian's report in the recently published annual report, Peter Woollam writes, 'I can't tell you much about Major Corbett - I don't even have information that he was himself a ringer.'

The article below, abridged from Teddy Rodenhurst's reminiscences published in The Ringing World of 22nd May 1962, supplies some details.

Major E R Trevor Corbett - the Association's first Ringing Master

Major E R T Corbett A ringer of some note locally, with whom I rang prior to WWI and subsequently, was Mr E R Trevor Corbett (afterwards 'Major'), whose father owned a large estate at Longnor, some eight miles south of Shrewsbury. He was a tall gentleman and the only ringer I have seen at meetings wearing spats, as he sometimes did.

The little church at Longnor having only two bells, he came to take up ringing in the following manner. George J Taylor, one of George Byolin's band at St Alkmund's, Shrewsbury, and a conductor of several peals, was suffering from tuberculosis and lived for a time in a chalet on Lyth Hill. When there he used to go down to Condover to instruct the ringers and managed to teach them to ring Grandsire from the call changes to which they had been used.

One evening Mr Corbett happened to be in the neighbourhood of the church and looked in to watch the ringers. He became interested and expressed a wish to learn and was taught by George Taylor. Later on he used to motor-cycle to St Alkmund's, Shrewsbury for the practices and on Sunday evenings, and learnt to ring Stedman Triples. For his first peal of Stedman Triples he travelled to Birmingham - I suppose he thought there was nothing like making as sure of it as possible - and he rang the fourth in the last peal (Stedman) on the bells of St Alkmund's, called by C R Lilley.

It was through Mr Corbett that Lilley came to Shrewsbury as instructor. He (Lilley) was out of a job at the time and advertised in the ringing press. He was a joiner and cabinet maker (an excellent tradesman as I saw from some of his work. He made himself a fine roll-top desk and when the old bells were pulled out of St Chad's he made pipe racks for the churchwardens out of some of the old oak.) Mr Corbett was able to get him taken on as estate carpenter on the Longnor Estate and the work he did for ringing in the area is, I think, too well known for me to relate here.

On the outbreak of hostilities Mr Corbett got a clerical job in Shrewsbury connected with the military (in the KSLI) and attained the rank of major. He continued his ringing at St Chad's and rang the third in the first peal on the recast bells.

Major Corbett rang some 20 peals in the four standard methods, mostly for the Salop Guild. I only rang one peal with him, that being Grandsire Triples at Condover on January 9th, 1915, half-muffled for George Taylor. I well remember it rained very heavily on that day and I got very wet cycling the nine miles from Church Stretton. On approaching this old world village, I met Major Corbett walking, with a long stick or staff, at least five feet long. [This half-muffled peal was on January 9th, 1915]

This may have been the last peal Major Corbett rang, though he came to the meetings from time to time. For one thing he was a very busy man. His father having died, he had the estate to supervise and he was also on a large number of public bodies. He was interested in the Shropshire and West Midland Agricultural Show and the Shrewsbury Flower Show. He was a magistrate and also, I believe, a county councillor.

When the Guild was reformed on a county basis in 1926 he was elected Master and took the chair at the annual meetings.

The last time I saw him was on a meeting day, sitting in a wheel chair outside St Chad's Church, completely crippled with arthritis and his hands like chalk. It was not so very long after that he died.

[To complete the record; Edward Richard Trevor Corbett was born on 8th August 1872 and died on 14th August 1948]

Longnor Hall
Longnor Hall
St Alkmund Peal St Chad Peal

April Association Practice & Quarterly Meeting

These were held at St Martins, with twenty one ringers attending. Matt Lawrence, Ringing Master, was able to persuade those present to have a go at ringing Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, Cambridge/Beverley/Surfleet Surprise Minor, and Dixon’s Bob Minor.

The quarterly meeting was held in the church hall, where hot drinks and biscuits were available. Matt reported that the Committee had discussed the question of the Carol Service, which had been raised at the January quarterly meeting, and had decided that the 2019 Carol Service would go ahead as planned; the committee would investigate the possibility of combining the Association Carol Service with another Carol Service.

Jonathan Hales-Povey (Calverhall), and Octavia Hilton (Market Drayton) were elected as members of the Association. Trevor Lock was ratified as a member following election prior to the peal at Forton.

The Treasurer, David Beckwith, gave a brief report on the state of the Association’s finances. The major expenses so far this year have been the report printing, and the insurance.

Geoff Harding raised £30 for the Bell Restoration Fund by running a raffle. The prizes of wine, and chocolates were won by Gill, Jad, and Mark.

Gill Glover reported that there are currently 108 members of the 100+ Club, representing a high proportion of the active towers in the Association.

The winners of the first draw of the year are:

1st prize of £50.00 Paul Roberts (Bicton)
2nd prize of £25.00 Vicki Sivess (Meole Brace)
3rd prize of £20.00 Barrie Hockley (Shifnal)
4th prize of £15.00 Heather Vernon (Calverhall)
5th prize of £10.00 David Beckwith (Market Drayton)

Thanks to all the members for their support. The next draw will take place at the July Quarterly meeting.

Thanks to David Cartwright and Mark Hayball for their hospitality.

The next Quarterly meeting will be held at Peter Woollam’s home, featuring the Lichfield Mobile Diocesan Belfry. More details of this will be available closer to the time.

April 8-bell Practice

Once again the 8-bell practice was held at Hodnet. Twelve ringers practised (with varying degrees of success) call changes, Grandsire Triples, Plain Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, and St Clement’s College Bob Major.

The towers represented included Atcham, Calverhall, Edgmond, Hodnet, Market Drayton, Meole Brace, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, and Tong.

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

An Association Peal at Ieper/Yper/Ypres

The fifth Association peal of 2019 was rung in Belgium, at the church of St George, Ypres.

Recruitment and Retention Workshop

Most ringers know that the recruitment of new ringers is vital to the future of the Exercise. In this workshop led by Matthew Lawrence, and with seventeen ringers in attendance, Matt said that there are many approaches to finding new recruits. These include advertising, bribery, flattery, prayer...

Matt emphasised the need to plan for recruiting. A starting point is to raise the awareness of ringing within the community - write something about your ringing in your church/parish/community magazine; have a display about ringing at a parish open day; contribute to social media; hold an open day in conjunction with other community events; give talks to local groups. Decide who you want to recruit – families, Scouts/Guides, Duke of Edinburgh award participants, church members...

It is also essential to follow up quickly any potential recruits. Consider working with other towers to teach bell handling. Studies show that intensive training (eg an hour a day every day for a week) leads to better retention of new recruits. Be welcoming of new recruits – first impressions matter.

Take part in an ART course to learn to teach bell handling. The Learning the Ropes scheme offered by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) is a learning scheme for new ringers and provides a structured approach to developing ringing skills. ART recruitment resources can be found at ringingteachers.org/resource-centre/recruitment-and-retention.

Contact Matt Lawrence [] if you would like help with recruitment and training.

Another Association Peal

The fourth Association peal of 2019 was rung at Clive.

March Association Practice

Fifteen ringers attended the Association practice at Forton, the Shropshire Association tower in Staffordshire. Under the direction of Matt Lawrence, Ringing Master, attempts were made at plain hunt on five, Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Plain & Little Minor, Kent Treble Bob Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, Cambridge/Beverley/Surfleet Surprise Minor, and Norwich Surprise Minor.

Peter Woollam ran a raffle, no surprise there, raising £22 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prizes of wine, something smelly, and coffee were taken home by Lisa, Edric, and Janet.

Thanks to Peter Cadwaladr and Janet Guest for their hospitality and for providing hot drinks and biscuits.

Third Peal of 2019

The third Association peal of 2019 was rung at Morville.

First Quarter Peal Congratulations

Congratulations to Nathaniel Carter and Alicia Jones who have rung their first quarter peal at Wellington.

Lewis Roberts

It is with sadness that the death of Lewis Roberts is reported. Lewis was a long-time member of the Association and for many years tower captain at Meole Brace.

New Members' Meeting

A special practice was held at Meole Brace for ringers who have joined the Association within the last 18 months or so.

The practice was an opportunity for new members to come along to find out more about what the Association has to offer, have a ring in a friendly and supportive atmosphere and meet other new members from across the Association.

Twenty three ringers participated, of whom about fourteen are new members, from towers including Bicton, Church Stretton, Lilleshall, Meole Brace and Overton. Matt Lawrence led the practice which concentrated on rounds, call changes, plain hunt on 5, and Plain Bob Triples.

Tea, coffee, and cakes were provided by the Meole Brace band and several Association committee members.

February Surprise Major Practice

Wem was the venue for the first Surprise Major practice of 2019. Twelve ringers took part, attempting Cambridge, Glasgow, London, Yorkshire, and 6-spliced.

Anne Monie

It is with great sorrow that the untimely death of Anne Monie, a ringer at Whitchurch, is reported. Our thoughts are with Malcolm and the rest of their family.

Donations are invited to be made to St Alkmund's Church [any cheques payable to Whitchurch PCC]. The money raised in Anne's memory will be shared between the church and Whitchurch CoE Infant & Nursery School at which Anne was a Governor and led some of the collective worship as well as spending time talking with the children. In both cases, the money raised will be put towards projects close to Anne's heart. At church this will be towards replacing the inner church doors with glass to make the building more welcoming. It would be good if any donations are Gift Aided where possible. Postal donations should be sent to Rolfe's Family Funeral Service, 14 Station Road, Whitchurch, SY13 1RE.

February Monthly Practice

From one side of the Association to the other. Eighteen ringers, half of them from the local band, attended the Association practice at Oswestry, and spent two hours practising call changes, Mexican waves, plain hunt on 7, Grandsire Triples, Little Bob Major, London Surprise Major, and Cambridge Surprise Major.

Raffle-meister Peter Woollam raised £30 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prizes of wine, chocolates, and coffee were taken home by Oliver Miller, Geoff Harding, Tony Freemont, and Jan Snowball.

Thanks to the Oswestry 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, Colin Cockerham, Jonathan Hales-Povey, Lisa Raymer, Simon Rice, and Vicki Sivess were the students.

Ringing included call changes, plain hunt on 5, Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Stedman Doubles, and Cambridge Surprise Major.

Tony Freemont, the Association’s Training Officer, was helped during the morning by Mark Adams, Jacqui Barden, Karen Compton, Rob Davis, Gill Glover, Nick Green, Madeline Harris, Matt Lawrence, John Neal, Biff Patterson, Sue Perry, and Cordelia Warr.

Thanks to Edric Broom and Mark for preparing the simulator and the bells.

The next Association training morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 27th April. If you would like to participate please contact Tony Freemont [].

February 8-bell Practice

Ringers came from more than one county to participate in the first 8-bell practice of 2019, held at Hodnet. Nineteen ringers had a go at call changes, plain hunt on 7, Plain Bob Triples, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, Single Oxford Bob Triples, and Double Norwich Court Bob Major.

The towers represented included Atcham, Brewood, Codsall, Edgmond, Hodnet, Lilleshall, Market Drayton, Oswestry, and Shrewsbury.

First Peals of 2019

The first two Association peals of 2019 have been rung, at Cheswardine and at Forton. The peal at Cheswardine is the first peal of Little Bob Major for the Association since 1984, which Kevin Price also conducted.

Association Practice and AGM

This was held at SS Peter & Paul church, Wem. Prior to the Service of Thanksgiving about thirty members gathered to ring call changes, Plain Hunt Triples, Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples and 8-Spliced Surprise Major.

Another twenty or so ringers turned up in time for the Service, which, in the absence of Archdeacon Paul Thomas, was led by the vicar of Wem, the Reverend Nick Heron. The address was given by Canon William Price, retired vicar of Myddle/Loppington and now living in Wem.

As there is only one ringer in the Wem band the committee took on the catering task, providing three delicious soups and many different types of sandwiches. All followed by cakes and hot drinks.

At the Quarterly Meeting which preceded the AGM, the following were elected as members of the Association: Sue Mulcock, David Powell (both Bicton); Robin Gilbert (Ellesmere); Celia Green (Hinstock); Sally Green, Louise Millward, Amy Steele, Kathryn Steele (all Lilleshall); Oliver Miller, Ben Rothera (both Oswestry); Jane Hughes, Jayne Hunt, Trudi Tanner (all Shifnal); Lorna Arrowsmith, Jack Ball, Lorna Burrows, Albert Greaves, Claire Ramsey, Ben Warren (all Meole Brace); Lisa Raymer (Shrewsbury); Nathaniel Carter, Alison Johnson (Wellington), Clare White (Tibberton); Pamela Sheldon, Darren Swancote (both Coalbrookdale); Clare Morris (Overton).

There was some discussion about the Association Carol Service, held at Market Drayton. It was thought that the turn-out of members was very poor. The future of the Association Carol Services is under review. Peter Woollam mentioned that The Diocese of Lichfield is promoting succession planning within the various advisory roles within the Diocese, including Bell Advisor. Peter invited anyone interested in becoming a deputy Diocesan Bell Advisor to contact him.

Madeline Harris gave her Ringing Master’s report which touched briefly on a few of the highlights of the year, including:

  • the eighteen peals and two hundred and five quarter peals that had been rung, the fact that only 78 members had rung a quarter peal, a number that has been reducing in the last few year;
  • Lisa Basden, Emma Bentley, Julie Hartridge, Mark Hayball and Anne Peppiatt rang their first quarter peals during the year;
  • the Treasure Hunt around Shrewsbury; the Quiz in November.
  • the training mornings at Edgmond, the 6-bell and 8-bell practices and the Surprise Major practices held throughout the year;
  • the youth ringers had had a bit of a rest during 2018 but Matt and Gail Larewnce had held a practice in December, and the ART module 2c training session held at Edgmond.

Several former members of the Association who had died during the year were remembered.

Madeline thanked the Committee for their hard work; 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. Bishop Mark Rylands and Archdeacon Paul Thomas were also mentioned.

David Beckwith presented the accounts of the Association. 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 Advisor) reported that BRF grants had been made to Selattyn, Hodnet, St Chad’s, Shrewsbury, Lilleshall and to St Martins. Geoff thanked Association members for their support of the Bell Restoration Fund.

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

Elections for the Committee for 2019 were held. Matt Lawrence was elected as the Ringing Master.The position of Social Secretary is still vacant. Gareth Jones replaces Edric Broom as a trustee of the Mobile Belfry, and Andrew Gordon replaces Brian Kear as an Independent Examiner.

Certificates for several members to mark their 50 and 25 years membership of the Association were available, but none of those members was present.

Madeline announced that Jad Bienek would be presented with the St Alkmund’s Cannons for all her work for the Association during the year. The presentation could not be made at the meeting as the newly-elected Ringing Master had left the cannons at home.

Peter Woollam sold raffle tickets, raising £103 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The glittering array of prizes was won by Andrew Gordon, Ginette Pardoe, Nicola Adams, Will Lander, Ben Kellett, John Neal, Geoff Harding, David Beckwith, Lisa Raymer, Gill Glover, Cordelia Warr, and Derek Dancey. 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 had been raised for the BRF. Brian announced that Gill Glover would be taking over from him as organiser of the 100+ Club, and he urged all those present to give her their support. Thanks to Brian for all his efforts in raising about £12,500 on behalf of the BRF were expressed in the usual way. The winners were: £50 – Adrian Roberts, £25 – Peter Neil, £15 – Steve Evans, £15 – Judith Speke, £12 – Jacqui Barden.

The next AGM will be held at Oswestry on Saturday 11th January 2020. The next Quarterly meeting will be held at St Martins on Saturday 13th April.