The Alton Handbell Ringers were formed in 1991 by Wendy and Alan Walters when they moved to the village of Alton, as they had previously rung handbells with a team in Solihull. The Alton team was started with a group of six ringers who rang on the set of 12 handbells from St. Peter’s Church Alton.
Wendy and Alan bought their own set of 2½ octaves of bells in 1991 and the team grew to nine people. More bells have been added since, to make the 3½ octaves (44 bells) that we ring on today, with twelve ringers under their musical director Wendy Walters. A set of handchimes was added in 2003.
We ring a variety of music including classical, hymns, folk, and tunes from musicals.
We have rung at many venues, including the Kings Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, for a Service of Remembrance; the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent; local Women's Institutes; flower festivals; weddings; garden centres; Sainsbury’s in Leek; Sudbury Hall Staffordshire, Shugborough Hall Staffordshire and Chatsworth House Derbyshire. We have even rung on live television on the ITV breakfast show from the Donna Louise Trust Children’s Hospice.
We also ring at many nursing and residential homes. Six ringers and 12 bells are used on these occasions.
At the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Christmas Fair 2015
Photo by Alan Walters
We are members of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB), an organisation set up to promote the art of ringing music on handbells. We are in the West Midlands Region HRGB and were pleased to represent the region in a concert at the annual rally of the HRGB in 2014. We enjoy the opportunity to meet up with other handbell groups from around the region when we attend rallies. Some of the team are also members of the Northern Bell Orchestra.
We also belong to Cheadle and District Arts Forum.
We are a friendly enthusiastic group who like to share the enjoyment of handbell ringing with their audience whilst raising money for charity. Each year we hold a concert to raise money for the Donna Louise Trust Children’s Hospice and we also support an additional charity each year.