News Items From 2020

Another Handbell Peal for the Association

The sixth Association peal of 2020 has been rung at Lilleshall.

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December Quiz Night

Instead of a Carol Service this year, the Association held a Quiz Night via Zoom. Vicki Sivess organised the event and devised all the questions. Members who had signed up to attend were split into teams and put into breakout rooms on Zoom. The first part of the Quiz was questions from Vicki which were displayed on participants’ screens (not every team noticed these questions though). Then there was time to answer the ‘table top’ quiz which was accessed through a hyperlink. There was an interval during which Michael Carding read his rendition of Chaucer comes to Salop : A Ryngyer's Tayle. This was followed by more questions from Vicki and finally the scoring. The Handbells were declared the winners with 68 points. The other teams taking part were the Bourdon Bells, the Tubular Bells, the Carillon Bells, and the Sleigh Bells.

Thanks go to Vicki for organising an interesting and challenging quiz, and to all though who participated and made the evening so enjoyable.

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Gordon Menhinick

Ringers who have rung at Baschurch on Sunday mornings and at Thursday evening practice nights may recall Gordon Menhinick. He first learnt to ring in the early 1970s shortly after a new band had been formed to ring the four bells at All Saints’ church. Graffiti to be found in the Ringing Chamber show that Gordon and the team rang for several national events including the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

As an active church member, Gordon became a Church Warden in 1997, serving alongside Neil Gasser who was a fellow ringer. He was Church Warden at a pivotal moment for ringing in Baschurch when the decision was taken to augment the bells from four to six as part of the Ringing in the Millennium project. The installation was truly a village effort and Gordon was a key member of the team.

Since the augmentation, the Baschurch practice has received support from various local towers and it was here that he met his future wife, Chris. They were married at All Saints’ on the 7th June 2003 with a quarter peal being scored prior to the wedding. The event featured in Ringing World at the time. They continued to progress in their ringing at the tower. Gordon rang several quarter peals – always on the Tenor. They also formed part of the winning team in the 2011 Association Striking Competition.

Gordon remained a regular ringer for Sunday services throughout. The last time he rang was on 8th March 2020 shortly before Covid 19 restrictions were announced. He died on 9th December in his 87th year and will be greatly missed.

Paul Smart
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November 8-Bell Practice

Nine ringers took part in the 8-bell practice held using Zoom and Ringing Room. The ringing was directed by Matt Lawrence. Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples, Plain Bob Major, Little Bob Major, and Treble Bob Hunt Major were attempted. The attempts were generally successful, though there were some unconventional finishes.

Thanks to Matt Lawrence for organising the practice and to all the ringers who participated.

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Fifth Association Peal of 2020

The fifth Association peal of 2020, the first since 14 March, has been rung at Lilleshall. This is the first handbell peal for the Association since 10 May 1979, and the first handbell peal for Gail and Matt Lawrence.

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October Quarterly Meeting

The first Quarterly meeting since January was held virtually, with fifteen ringers in attendance. Matt Lawrence reported that the Association’s AGM is very likely to be held virtually, and a sub-committee has been formed to make preparations for this event. Matt also spoke about COVID-19 restrictions and how they affect ringing. Local bands must carry out a risk assessment and consult with their church authorities. Biff Patterson will send out her usual letter about membership subscriptions. Geoff Harding reported on the tower maintenance training he had held a Newport. Vicki Sivess revealed that she has had a lot of interest in the Christmas Quiz to be held on Saturday 12 December. Matt reported that the main Association expenses have been the cost of the Zoom subscription, and a £200 donation to the Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry, to help offset the lack of bookings for 2020. The other two Associations involved with the Mobile Belfry have also made similar donations.

Following the business meeting a striking competition was held using Ringing Room. Those present had been split into two teams – the East(ish) and the West(ish). The test piece was 120 of Plain Bob Doubles, and the judges were Matt Lawrence and Sue Dancey. Following a brief discussion between the judges, the West(ish) band was announced the winner.

The next Association 6-bell practice will be on Saturday 7 November, from 7pm to 8:30pm using Zoom and Ringing Room. Please contact Matt Lawrence [ ] if you would like to attend.

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October 6-Bell Practice

Nine ringers took part in the October Association 6-bell practice. Such was the level of experience of those attending that a mixture of 6-bell and 8-bell ringing was possible. The ringing included Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles, St Clement's College Bob Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, Plain Bob Triples, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, and Treble Bob Hunting on 8.

Thanks to Matt Lawrence for organising the practice and to all the ringers who took part.

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September 8-Bell Practice

Nine ringers took part in the 8-bell practice held using Zoom and Ringing Room. The ringing was directed by Matt Lawrence. Attempts, with more than one succesful finish, were made at Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples, Plain Bob Major, Little Bob Major, and Treble Bob Hunt Major.

Thanks to Matt Lawrence for organising the practice and to all the ringers who participated.

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September 6-Bell Practice

Eight ringers, took part in the 6-bell practice held using Zoom and Ringing Room. The ringing was directed by Madeline Harris, and included Call Changes, Plain Hunt Doubles and Minor, Plain Bob Doubles, Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Doubles, Grandsire Doubles and St Simon's Bob Doubles.

Thanks to Matt Lawrence for organising the practice

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August 8-bell Practice

Fifteen ringers, once again including Edric from Somerset, took part in the 8-bell Practice held using Zoom and RingingRoom. The ringing was directed by Matt Lawrence, and included Plain Hunt Triples, Plain Bob Triples, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, Little Bob Major, and Plain Hunt Cinques.

Thanks to Matt for organising the practice.

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Peter Dean

It is with great sadness we report the death of Peter Dean, a longstanding ringer at Newport. Peter learnt to ring at Broseley in 1944, aged 11, and participated in the ringing celebrating VE and VJ day. Peter also attended practice nights at Coalbrookdale and became a member of the Shropshire Association and the Hereford Guild. After joining the army in 1951, he only rang occasionally. In 1997, having moved to Newport, he went up the tower following Princess Diana’s death to find out what ringing would be taking place. Peter soon became a regular ringer at Newport and was later joined in the tower by his son, Jasper.

Peter enjoyed ringing the tenor behind, Grandsire, and Plain Bob Doubles. He particularly enjoyed the Newport fathers and sons quarter peal in 2002, rung to mark Father’s Day, when he and Jasper were joined by John and Oliver Stokes, and Graham and Richard Talbot. This feat was repeated in 2008 to mark Peter’s 75th birthday.

Peter also enjoyed the social side of ringing and liked going on ringing outings. Although he ceased ringing in recent years, he still attended the Newport Christmas meal. We will remember Peter with great fondness and send our deepest condolences to his wife Eppie, Jasper and the rest of his family.

Peter Dean With IceCream Peter Dean With Wine

Text by Kathryn Greaves
Photos by John Williamson
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Beginners' Practice

Eleven ringers, including Edric from Somerset, took part in the Beginners’ Practice held using Zoom and RingingRoom. The ringing was directed by Matt Lawrence, and included Mexican Wave, Call Changes, Plain Hunt Doubles, Plain Bob Doubles, and an attempt at Grandsire Triples.

Thanks to Matt for organising the practice

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A Quiz With Bells

  1. This amateur sleuth had an appealing case to solve though it proved a death knell for one character.
    Who is the sleuth?
  2. What did the Stepney bells want to know?
  3. “Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash!”
    Who rejoiced to hear these bells?
  4. There are no weddings for these brides. They warn of danger from the sea.
    What is the title of the poem?
  5. Monday 30th May 1664. “ lay long, the bells ringing, it being holiday, and then up and all the day long in my study at home studying of shipmaking with great content till the evening…”
    Whose diary is this?
  6. Who prevented the curfew bell from ringing, and why, in this poem?
  7. “Ringing is an addiction from which few escape once they have ventured into the small fortress-like room beneath the bells, and the sally leaps to life against the palm of the hand like an animal. There begins a lifetime of concentration, of perfect striking and a co-ordination of body and mind so destructive to anxieties and worries that one wonders why campanology isn’t high on the therapy list”
    Which Suffolk village harbours these dedicated ringers?
  8. “Ring out the old, ring in the new,
    Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
    The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
    What is the title of this poem and who does it commemorate?
  9. “In summertime on Bredon
    The bells they sound so clear;
    Round both the shires they ring them
    In steeples far and near,
    A happy noise to hear”
    Which shire is home to the lad listening to these bells?
  10. “They went and told the sexton, and the sexton tolled the bell”
    Who was the bell tolling for?

The answers to this quiz can be found here

Jad Bienek
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Judy Fox

Some of you may have heard the sad news about Judy Fox from Shifnal, which has regrettably been front page news. What you may not know, however, is that Judy was one of our happy band of bell ringers at Newport, recruited from a tower open day in early 2019.

Judy was enthusiastic from the start and put in the hours to learn bell handling and rounds, so that she could go on to join us for Sunday Service ringing. Judy was always jolly and very much enjoyed all aspects of ringing, from practice night to visiting other towers and she was especially great fun at the Christmas meal, which will be remembered fondly.

Judy had lived in Shifnal for some time but had decided it was time for change. She had considered moving to Newport, as she liked the sense of community and thought it would be convenient. However, having secured a sale during lockdown, she had an offer accepted on a house in Finchfield near friends. Judy was very positive about this new chapter of her life and excited for its potential; she even spoke about the possibility of ringing at Albrighton.

The sad news of her death in June, which so tragically robbed Judy of this new start, came as a terrible shock to us all and sadly, the revelations of the ongoing investigation and events, has left little time for reflection. Though this tragic case is by no means closed, for us, Judy’s friendship was all too brief and she will be sadly and greatly missed.

Ian Baker
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Service Ringing at Oswestry Returns

Sunday morning services have now resumed at St Oswald’s, Oswestry, and the bell ringers are back as well. Hurrah! I would say that, wouldn’t I, but the truth is that the English style of change-ringing that we practise has been a part of our soundscape for hundreds of years. The ringing of the bells each Sunday and at times of national celebration and sorrow is as much a part of life as fish ‘n chips, cricket, warm beer – you name it.

Anyone who has visited this tower might be able to picture the ringing room. Having one person on every bell rope isn’t possible as some of them are too close together, so we rang just four bells last Sunday - two of the ringers were teenagers. We do have some from the same households and think that we can, in future, manage to ring up to six of the eight bells whilst still maintaining social distancing.

All of this is, of course, with the approval of the vicar and the PCC. We drew up a risk assessment – actually, more a 22 bullet-point list of do’s and don’ts. They’re all fairly straightforward, but we made it this detailed with the aim of giving readers confidence that we’d thought everything through.

We’ve been keeping in touch with each other in recent weeks by meeting for ‘virtual’ practices, using Ringing Room and Zoom simultaneously. Ringing has included rounds & call changes on 10 and Plain Bob Major (well, the first two leads went OK!). We’ve even been joined by a ringer in Connecticut, USA, for these sessions.

Peter Woollam
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July Association Practice

On Saturday evening, twelve ringers from across the Association joined Matt Lawrence for a practice, using Zoom and Ringing Room. The ringing included Plain Bob Doubles, Minor and Triples and Grandsire Triples. The evening ended with a triumphant course of Plain Hunt on eleven. Some of the ringers had not used Ringing Room before. Thanks are due to Matt for leading the ringing so ably and making the evening such fun.

Vicki Sivess
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June Association Quiz

This was organised by Vicki Sivess, the Association’s Social Secretary, and made use of the Association’s Zoom subscription. Six teams participated, representing Atcham, Lilleshall, Newport, Oswestry, Shifnal, and Shrewsbury. Vicki set breakout rooms for each team so that they could confer about their answers, while Vicki was able to broadcast the questions to all the teams. The questions covered Science & Technology, Sport, Geography, Entertainment, Bellringing history, and History. Shifnal and Shrewsbury were the joint winners. Congratulations to them and to all who took part, and thanks to Vicki for organising this event.

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Richard Dorrington

It is with sadness that the death of Rev Richard Dorrington is reported. Richard (together with his wife Bryony) were members of the Edgmond band and Association in the late 1960s and 1970s. He was instrumental in Edgmond’s augmentation in 1977. He was ordained later and became the rector at Beckbury, where he helped fundraise for the rehanging of the three bells there. Richard ended his parish ministry in Devon before retiring to Cornwall in 2013. He died on 10th May, aged 71, after a short illness. A photo of Richard is on the Shrewsbury, St Michael’s page of this website. He rang 28 peals for the Association, conducting four of these.

Paul Lewis
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John Crum

It is with great sadness that the death, on 1st May 2020, of John Crum is reported. John was a ringer at St Chad's, Shrewsbury, and Meole Brace. In 2017 John was recognised by the Shropshire Association for his 50 years membership of the Association.

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Virtual Practice Night - May

Twelve intrepid ringers participated in the second virtual Shropshire Association monthly practice, using Ringing Room and Zoom. Attempts were made (sometimes sucessfully) at Plain Hunt on 7, rounds and call changes on 10, Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor (with and without bobs), and Grandsire Triples. Once again there was no raffle. Thanks to Matt Lawrence for bringing it all together.

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Virtual Practice Night - April

Eight adventurous souls participated in the first virtual Shropshire Association monthly practice, using Ringing Room and Zoom. Despite a few IT issues, good attempts were made at Plain Hunt on 5, 6, 7, and 8 bells; Plain Bob Doubles, and Plain Bob Minor. Sadly, there was no raffle. Thanks to Matt Lawrence for bringing it all together.

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Fourth Association Peal of 2020

The fourth Association peal of 2020 has been rung at Oswestry. This was the 50th peal for the Association for both Gail and Matthew Lawrence.

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March Association Practice

Eleven ringers, including a visitor from Cannock, made the exciting ascent into the tower at Wrockwardine to attend the Association practice. The ringing, under the direction of the Ringing Master, included call changes, Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Original Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, and Norwich Surprise Minor.

Geoff Harding ran the raffle, raising £27 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prizes of chocolates, and bath smellies were taken home by Michael, Matt, and Richard.

Thanks to the Wrockwardine ringers for organising the use of the bells.

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March 6-Bell Practice

Thirteen ringers journeyed to Whittington to participate in the March 6-bell practice. The ringing was led by Tony Freemont, and included Plain Bob Doubles, St Simon’s Bob Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Original Minor, Treble Bob Hunt Minor, St Martin’s Bob Minor, Childwall Minor, and Thelwall Minor.

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February Surprise Major Practice

Sixteen ringers (including a visitor from Guildford) participated in the February Surprise Major practice at Edgmond. The ringing included Cambridge, Deva, Rutland, Yorkshire, and 8- Spliced.

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February Association Practice

Twelve ringers attended the Association practice at Whittington and spent two hours practising call changes, plain hunt, Plain Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, St Martin’s Bob Minor, Original Minor, Dixon’s Bob Minor, and College Bob Minor.

Geoff Harding ran the raffle, raising £24 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prizes of wine, chocolates, and coasters were taken home by Jad, Jan, and Peter W.

Thanks to Jan Snowball for organising the use of the bells.

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February Training Morning

The first Association training morning of the year took place at the Edgmond Ringing Centre. At the last moment several students had to cancel, which meant that the students who did turn up got lots of practice. That practice included Grandsire Doubles, St Simon’s Bob Doubles & St Martin’s Bob Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, Plain Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, and Cambridge Surprise Major.

Tony Freemont, the Association’s Training Officer was joined by Mark Adams, Lisa Basden, Karen Compton, Rob Davis, Bill Deason, Madeline Harris, Matt Lawrence, Ginette Pardoe.

Thanks to Mark for preparing the simulator and the bells.

The next Association training morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 25th April. If you would like to participate please contact Tony Freemont [].

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Two More Association Peals

The second and third Association peals of 2020 have been rung at Bromfield and Rushbury. The peal at Bromfield was rung exactly six years since the the last Association peal of 5 Minor methods was rung.

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February 8-Bell Practice

There was an excellent turn-out for the first 8-bell practice of 2020, held at Hodnet. Eighteen ringers had a go at Plain Bob Triples, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, Plain Bob Major, St Clement’s College Bob Major, and Little Bob Major.

The towers represented included Baschurch, Edgmond, Hodnet, Lilleshall, Market Drayton, Meole Brace, Newport, Oswestry, Wellington, Wem, Whitchurch.

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

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January Surprise Major Practice

Fourteen ringers participated in the January Surprise Major practice at Wem, making attempts at Cambridge, Glasgow, Yorkshire, and various numbers of Spliced.

Thanks to Gareth Jones for organising the use of the bells.

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First Association Peal of 2020

The first Association Peal of 2020 has been rung at Upton Magna.

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Association Practice, Quarterly Meeting and AGM

These were held at St Oswald, King and Martyr church, Oswestry. Prior to the Service of Thanksgiving about thirty members gathered to ring call changes, Stedman Doubles, Grandsire Triples, Little Bob Major, and three leads of Bristol Surprise Major.

Another twenty or so ringers turned up in time for the Service, which was led by the vicar of Oswestry, The Reverend Harvey Lloyd Gibbons. The address was given by Archdeacon Paul Thomas, vice-president of the Association. The Archdeacon spoke about the need for us to cooperate with each other, in ringing and in life.

The Oswestry band provided a delicious tea comprising three delicious soups and many different types of sandwiches, all followed by puddings and hot drinks.

At the Quarterly Meeting which preceded the AGM, the following were elected as members of the Association: Jamie Wordie (Bicton); Rhiannon Davies, Minnie Garvin, Rosie Garvin, Richard Gilman (all Ellesmere); Katie Head, Taylor Millward, Charlie Steele (all Lilleshall); Frankie Hartland, Michael Hartland, Geoff Lowe (all Meole Brace); Kevin Close, Judy Fox, Samuel Jones, Fiona McKeown, Lee Smith, Daniel Wiles (all Newport); Paul Garbett, Dan Matthews, Violet Matthews, Caroline Smith (all Sheriffhales); Paul Jones (Shifnal); Rita Stephens (Wellington); Sam Nelson (Whitchurch).

After the usual business of minutes of the last AGM, and matter arising from the Minutes, Matt Lawrence gave his Ringing Master’s report which touched briefly on a few of the highlights of the year, including: the fifteen peals that had been rung, the one hundred and ninety nine quarter peals rung, the fact that the trend for fewer members to ring quarter peals continued in 2019; Nathaniel Carter and Jonathan Molesworth rang their first quarter peals, and Andy Digby, Clare Morris and Steve Broughton rang their first peals during the year; the outing to the Pershore/Evesham area; the Quiz in November. Also mentioned were the training mornings at Edgmond, the 6-bell and 8-bell practices and the Surprise Major practices held throughout the year. Several former members of the Association who had died during the year were remembered. Matt 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. Matt also thanked all towers that had hosted meetings and event.

David Beckwith presented the accounts of the Association. The Independent Examiners, Karen Compton and Andrew Gordon, had inspected and approved the accounts and Andrew reported that he and Karen were happy with how the accounts had been presented.

Geoff Harding (Bell Advisor) reported that no BRF grants had been made in 2019, but that he had visited several towers and provided advice and assistance. Geoff brought to the attention of those present changes to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules which come into effect on 1st April 2020.

Biff Patterson thanked all those who had returned information about the tower they ring at. Biff is hoping to have the Report/ Handbook ready for proof-reading at the end of January and is aiming for distribution at the March practice.

Peter Woollam reported that there had been two loans from the library in 2019, and that he had continued to produce the quarterly Association Newsletter, which is sent out to all towers in the Association.

Tony Freemont reported that Training mornings at Edgmond continue to be well-attended and thanked Mark Adams for his help there. Tony also mentioned that 6-bell practices and 8-bell practices and Saturday monthly evening practices continue to offer members opportunities to make progress.

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

Madeline Harris reported that she had not made any major changes to the website in 2019, and she asked that quarter peals and peals are promptly sent to BellBoard so that they can appear on the Association’s website in the correct order. Madeline also thanked Alan Glover for his work setting up the website and for supporting it financially.

Elections for the Committee for 2020 were held. Matt Lawrence was re-elected as the Ringing Master. Madeline Harris was elected as General Secretary, replacing Jad Bienek; Vicki Sivess was elected as Social Secretary; Shaun Greenfield was elected as Public Relations & Publicity Officer, replacing Peter Woollam; Paul Lewis was elected as Central Council representative, replacing Alan Glover and Peter Woollam; Adrian Roberts was elected as the Independent Examiner, replacing Karen Compton. All other committee members remain as in 2019.

Matt Lawrence set out proposals to make some changes to the Rules of the Association. There was a robust discussion of the pros and cons of the changes. One of the points to emerge was the need to safeguard the Association’s funds. Archdeacon Paul summed up the discussion and said that the views of members should be fed to the committee with alternative ideas and safeguards, and further discussion would continue at future Quarterly Meetings and the next AGM.

It was agreed that from 2021 the annual subscription would increase to £10 per adult member; the junior subscription would remain at £5. It was agreed that the peal fee would rise to £1 per rope.

The final business of the AGM was the presentation to Graham Talbot of a certificate to mark Graham’s 25 years membership of the Association. Rex Edwards was also awarded a 25-year certificate, but he was unable to be at the meeting.

Peter Woollam sold raffle tickets, raising £105 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The glittering array of prizes was won by Vicki Sivess, Louise Dunsford, Mike Carding, Simon Rice, Biff Patterson, Archdeacon Paul, Madeline Harris, Nik Galton, Ginette Pardoe, Chloë Darby, and John Peppiatt. Peter thanked all those who donated prizes for the raffles.

The final draw of the year in the 100+ Club was made by Gill Glover. The winners were: £50 – Sue Mulcock, £25 – John Neal, £20 –Kathryn Steele, £15 – Chris Evans, £10 – Jo Smyth, and the extra prize of £50 was won by David Powell.

Thanks go to the Oswestry band for hosting the meetings and providing a sumptuous tea, to Archdeacon Paul for chairing the meetings, Rev Gibbons for conducting the Service, and everyone for supporting the Association.

The next AGM will be held at Newport on Saturday 9th January 2021. The next Quarterly meeting will be held at Ruyton XI Towns on Saturday 18th April. The next monthly practice will be held at Whittington on Saturday 8th February.

Graham Talbot presentation

Graham Talbot and Archdeacon Paul Thomas

Photo by John Williamson

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January 6-bell Practice

This was held at Stanton with eleven ringers attending. Under the guidance of the Ringing Master, Matt Lawrence, those present practised Plain Bob Minor, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Cambridge Surprise Minor, and Primrose Surprise Minor.

Thanks to Claire Unsworth for organising the use of the bells, and for providing delicious chocolate and orange brownies.

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