The Alton Handbell Ringers were formed in 1991 by Wendy and Alan Walters when they moved to the village of Alton. They had previously rung handbells with a team in Solihull and wanted to continue with a team in Alton. The Alton team started with a group of six ringers who rang on a set of 12 bells from St. Peter's Church.
Wendy and Alan bought their own set of 2½ octaves of bells in 1991 and the team grew. More bells have been added since to make the 4½ octaves that we ring on today. Handchimes have also been added and the number of ringers in the team has increased to 15.
We have rung at a variety of venues including Kings Hall Stoke service of Remembrance, Victoria Hall, Chatsworth House, Shugborough House NT, flower festivals, local WIs, weddings, garden centres, fund raising concerts, Sainsbury's in Leek, Waitrose in Uttoxeter. We have even appeared on live television from the Donna Louise Trust Hospice for children and young adults. Our smaller ensemble rings at many nursing and residential homes, especially at Christmas time.
We have produced two CDs. In 2017 we were pleased to share with the Inn Ringers in a joint CD, Bellissima, and then in 2019 we recorded our own CD of Christmas music called Ding Dong Merrily.
We support local charities and hold an annual concert in Alton Village Hall each December to raise money for them.
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 Midland Region and were pleased to represent the region at the annual national rally in 2014. We are also members of the Heart of England Handbell Society which was set up to bring together handbell teams from across the Midlands region. We enjoy the opportunity to meet up with other handbell ringers from around the region when we attend rallies. Some of our team are also members of the Northern Bell Orchestra.
We ring a varied selection of music ranging from light classical, to songs from musicals, hymns, folk tunes and, when appropriate, seasonal Christmas music, each piece lasting no more than 5 minutes. There is also a growing number of pieces composed especially for handbells which we like to include in our repertoire.