Ellastone 12 bell concert. Sat 29 July

AHR at Ellastone Fete

Thank you to those who rang at Ellastone. It went very well. We rang under a gazebo on the terrace and the sound of the bells carried across the garden. Fortunately it stayed dry.

Wendy Walters

Alton Hand bell Ringers performance at Bethesda chapel, Hanley 13/05/23

12 Bell Team At Bethesda Chapel May 13th

Bethesda chapel is one of the largest nonconformist chapels outside of London and was built in 1819.

The chapel ceased to be used in 1985and quickly fell into the hands of vandals and home to hundreds of pigeons. In 2002 it was acquired by the Historic Chapels Trust (HCT) and there has been a long campaign of fund raising in an attempt to restore what is a wonderful building.

Most of the organ pipes were illegally removed and sold for scrap and a replacement organ was sourced from another church in Manchester.

It can seat 2000 people and has a vast single span ceiling which was fully restored in 2007, following the acquisition of the chapel by HCT.

Sadly now, HCT has run out of funds and is due to close in the near future, putting the building at further risk and it is currently on the market.

We have performed there a few times and are delighted to help a handful of dedicated people raise funds for this building which was once a jewel in the potteries. We were invited to return to Bethesda following our annual Alton Christmas concert last year.

Since our last visit, the chapel can now boast its own toilets where previously such facilities were only available at Hanley museum – a short dash away!

So on a warm and sunny afternoon, we arrived at the chapel and set our stall out. Ever optimistic, Peter left his coat in the car, not having performed there before and despite being warned in advance how cold it can be inside the building. Within five minutes, he was back to the car for that extra layer.

We were treated to an organ recital on our arrival and then we began to play at 12.30pm and played a wide variety of music for 50 minutes to a very appreciative audience.

Wendy had previously been very busy transcribing several new pieces for us to play, including a few hymns and a version of ‘Sheep may safely graze’ by J S Bach. This was played with great feeling and is a very expressive piece of music. I hope this becomes a favourite in future.

Overall, I think we played very well, with just a slight hiccup in ‘When the Saints go marching in’, when about half way through, some of the saints took a tumble and after a while, so many were down that we had to stop playing and restart the piece!

Unfortunately and somewhat typical these days, audience numbers were very low. At one point, several people got up from the ground floor seating and left. However, it turned out that they had simply gone upstairs to sample the acoustics there. Acoustically, Bethesda chapel is truly amazing. It would be great to do a full team concert there, but the chapel restoration committee worry that they might not be able to draw in enough people to justify this.

Bethesda chapel, struggling for sufficient funding to complete its restoration, is a shadow of its former self and is rather symptomatic to the decline of the potteries and particularly Hanley, in recent years.


Handbell Ringers at St George's Hospital Stafford Wednesday 26th April

A team of six ringers ,with Wendy their leader went to George's Hospital for another teaching session. The ringers played a couple of numbers to illustrate the ringing technique. Bells were handed out to patients and staff and the scale was played up and down several times. As this went well it was now time to try a couple of tunes. 'Bobby Shaftoe' was played, albeit slowly, but the second attempt was very recognisable. 'Bobby Shaftoe' was played next and this went extremely well much to the surprise of all those playing, around of applause was given to all concerned.  Alton Ringers concluded the afternoon. Another visit is planned later in the year.

Peter W

Brookfields Nursing Home, Derby. 30th March 2023

On Wednesday 30th March  6 of us travelled to Brookfields Nursing Home in Derby to entertain the residents. On the journey there we went through lashing rain to brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine. April showers arrived early. This is the fourth time we have been to Brookfields and we were given a very warm welcome.
While setting up the stands and music , the chairs were arranged and the audience were seated. We were ready to start, Mavis had arrived on time for this performance!!

We had two ringers with us today, Hilary and Peter, who haven’t been ringing long, but credit to them they were excellent. It is very different playing with just the music on a stand in front of you than behind a table full of bells and chimes. It can be quite intimidating at times.

We started off with some traditional music. The Eton Boating Song and Strawberry Fair. We could hear some humming from the audience. When we played Singing in the Rain most people were humming or singing along. Obviously a well known piece. I am sure they could all visualise Gene Kelly splashing through the water as he danced his well known routine. Some others might have remembered Eric and Ernie doing a skit of it in one of their shows.  We also slipped in some hymn tunes which were well received. Well most of us would have sung a hymn every morning during our school days. They are at the back of minds somewhere. We thought it a good idea to add some more to our  repertoire.

When we started to play some patriotic pieces, Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and the like most of the audience were humming or singing along and I am sure if they had had flags they would have been waving them.
It is lovely when an audience interacts to the pieces we play. We know that they are enjoying it and that we are giving them some pleasure.

Tea , coffee and biscuits were provided in the dining room and then we said our goodbyes.  When we were leaving  we were told we would be welcome anytime as the residents really enjoy it when we go. This was lovely to hear and we look forward to our next visit.

Sue Robins

The Old Rectory, Bramshall .March 27th 2023

In Stramshall village at the Old Rectory today

A group, seven people , twelve bells they did play.

At two-thirty prompt, with the stage all set up

and the audience gathered, no time for warm-up


With Wendy their leader and five ladies, plus one man

Without much ado their entertainment began.

'Aura Lea' was the opening number played,

It must have been liked. cause the audience stayed.


'The Mango Walk' went down a real treat

Around the room there were several tapping feet.

World War medley was greeted with singing

So nice to hear by the group that were ringing.


More tunes were played from 'Folk' to 'Classical'

From music in a form that is written numerical.

The last piece was played and an encore wanted

Thanks were extended and the group was applauded.

Peter Walker