HRGB Rally at Areley Kings

Sporting new polo shirts at Areley Kings

Saturday 23rd March 2024

It was an early start for 8 members of the Alton Handbell ringers team as we headed down to Worcestershire to attend the Areley Kings rally, armed with the Haythorne bells, chimes and our packed lunches.
There was an excellent turnout of just over 50 ringers, but we all managed to squeeze into a modern, warm and well lit hall (an important feature after our candle lit performance at Christmas!)
All the ringing sessions were ably led by Jason, who was encouraging throughout and proved to be an excellent conductor, equal to the usual high standard provided by our own conductor, Wendy, who was able to join in the ringing for once.
We started by working on “Bring him home”, a piece adapted for hand bells from Les Mis, which was quite a challenging piece, or so we thought until we had a go at English Country Garden and then the high speed rate of Variations on Strawberry Fair, with numerous key, timing and speed changes. 
However, throughout the day, we did improve, although at 1pm when we were asked if we were happy to continue practising until 1.15 as per the schedule, there was a resounding call for an early lunch!
Interspersed throughout the day were team pieces from Areley Kings, Wellington, Oranges and Lemons, Harvington, Knighton, Burghill & Tillington, Tintinnabulis and ourselves. We performed My Heart Will Go On from Titanic and Chime Lullaby, both of which went quite well, if not perfectly.
We finished by performing all three mass pieces, which definitely sounded much improved from attempt number one in the morning. 
We were provided with more tea and huge quantities of cake by the ever hospitable Areley Kings hosts and left in lovely afternoon sunshine to head home.
This was only my second rally, but it was hugely enjoyable and so encouraging to see the wide range of ages (from 11 to 80s) sharing time and music together on equal terms, the future of hand bell ringing looks bright.

Hilary Dowson