Pupils enjoy a taste of handbell ringing.

The Alton Handbell Ringers were asked to introduce handbells to the children at  Hollinsclough Primary Academy back in December 2018.

We were delighted to agree, and a project was devised which would consist of the whole school accessing 10 hours of tuition.

The first group consisted of the youngest children (including the Nursery aged children), who learned to play small colour coded bells. They were very good, learning about rhythm, tone and musical notation. We played simple tunes and chords.

The older children played two sets of belleplates, and read harder notation which involved counting and numbers…much as the AHR Handbell Team do.

Both groups achieved a lot, working hard and with enthusiasm.

We aimed towards the presentation of an Easter Service at Longnor Church, when children from the school in Longnor, parents and other villagers came to listen to the final production.

There was also one occasion when a larger team of Handbell Ringers visited to play to the children. I think they were impressed!

Each week, different members of the AHR Team went along to help, so many people were involved. I think however, that all would agree …team members, children and staff… that the project was useful and extremely enjoyable for us all. We hope that we have left a lasting legacy of the love of music and handbells with the pupils.

Lynne 23.7.19

Children’s views:

From: Principal <>

Date: 16 July 2019 at 12:02:08 BST

Morning Wendy,

We asked the children who enjoyed the bell sessions, and all put their hands up.  Wish I could have bottled their response for you!

Comments included:

Oliver S -  ‘it was fun to take part and fascinating to hear about their jobs in the Church’.

Will R – ‘it would be great if all the family could join in too, and take part’.

Oliver R – ‘ it was really fun.’.

Indi – ‘I think it was inspiring.  It was generous of them to give up their time, wasn’t it?’

Charlie – ‘I enjoyed doing it and want them to come back’.

Mrs O (with Bethan agreeing) – ‘What was also great was that it was an alternative way of learning maths’.

Many, many thanks for all your hard work, it was very much appreciated by us all. Please let us know if there is anything we can do for you in return.

Kind regards,

Janette Mountford-Lees


£200 Donation for Churnet Valley First Responders

Alton Handbell Ringers present a cheque for £200 to Churnet Valley First Responders outside Alton Village Hall on Thursday 4 July.  Left to right: Sue R, Beryl, Wendy, First Responder, Sarah, Jean.

Photo by Alan Walters

Draycott Bells Concert 10.2.19

What a lovely audience! Everyone in the Church Hall was very welcoming. As we began to play our opening music, “Celebration”, there was a “feel good” factor straight away. We were all determined to play everything with feeling and to the best of our ability together with good dynamics and no racing away!

Our peripheral vision was totally concentrated on Wendy”s wand!

The audience looked rapturous; that is, what little I could see of them without taking my eyes off the music.

My daughter, Lucy and my two grandchildren were in the audience, sitting on the front row. I was determined that, as a team, we gave a good impression. I even tried to smile a little as I played!

In some of the pieces Morgan, the youngest, looked mesmerised but I have to admit in some parts of the performance they both looked pretty tired and a little bored with the proceedings. Not to worry, the delicious tea and cakes cheered them up no end and gave them the boost to watch the second half!

During the half time break two ladies sang some solos and duets, accompanied by a talented pianist. My word they were very good, reaching some amazingly high notes! They were splendid and we could have a rest and a sit down to listen to some well known songs from the shows and operas.

Our second half began with “You Raise Me Up”, which was a good choice because we needed something to “ Raise us Up” after the tea and cakes! The audience too looked uplifted (excuse the pun), very good dynamics in this one.

There was a stillness in the Hall throughout our playing of the Polaris piece. We played it softly and carefully, almost holding our breath and it sounded magical. I think we could imagine the moving colours of the Northern Lights spreading across a vast sky.

In contrast to this the audience sang along heartily to “3 For the Road”and “Over the Rainbow”; no wrong notes or keys from the singers, at least!

Our Finale was the “ Vivaldi” arrangement which went down well. They all seemed have enjoyed themselves and so did we. The concert was rated a great success!

Jean Reilly 11.2.19

Bells at Draycott 10.2.19

It was a packed house when I arrived at the cosy church hall with 3 minutes to spare. Luckily for me I had a front row seat with my two children as my mum was one of the bell ringers!

The bells, music and associated paraphernalia were laid out on sumptuous velvet, whilst the ringers were dressed in black with matching scarves; dapper bow-ties for the men! All looked very professional, from the tiniest bell my son tested out, to the largest, which wouldn't have looked out of place in a church tower!

The ringers began their first set, the melodious and mesmerising tones filling the sunlit hall. The pieces were varied and played to perfection, ranging from tunes from popular musicals to original compositions for handbells, capturing the beauty of the stars and the aurora. The concentration on the faces of the ringers was evident- timing is key!

Some amazing and original singing and accompanying keyboard marked the end of the first and beginning of the second halves, whilst the good- humoured audience were treated to tea and homemade cake.

The bell ringers commenced their second set with the same enthusiasm for their art as before- interspersed with engaging insights into the pieces and the surprising variety of methods of creating the beautiful sounds. A delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon; well done Wendy and the team!

Lucy Wilson 11.2.19

A Sideways Look at a Concert

Thursday the thirteenth in the month of December

Although a cold night, a night to remember.

Off into the hills, a concert  for us all.

The venue to be played at was Whiston village hall.


Time to set up and check you have the right bell,

Put the C.D's on a table during the interval to sell.

Time for a photograph: let's all form a group.

The young one with no tie at the back he must stoop.


To ring a selection of pieces was our intent

As we all looked forward to this special event.

A Women's Institute party with gifts and balloons,

Fancy hats, Christmas trees and other festoons.


With bells nicely polished and music on stands

We stood at the ready with bells in our hands.

Wendy set us all going and as time did elapse

One of the stands, it decided, to have a relapse.


The ringers at eighteen and down to fifteen

Were now left to play with their music unseen

But Wendy to the rescue and was quick to put right

The stand, she adjusted, back to a  correct height


The rest of the first  half went without any hitch

And then it was time to have a sandwich.

There was plenty of food. What a wonderful spread:

Lobby, soup, casseroles and lots of fresh bread.


After trifle, pavlova and a selection of  cakes

Let's start second half and make no mistakes.

Now's the time, for our audience, to join in and sing

Unfortunately not at the same speed that we ring.


A difficult piece is ‘Three for the Road’.

The words would fit  better if only we'd slowed.

But, so what, it's a great bit of fun

That brings laughter to all when it's all done.


At all of our concerts there's laughter and fun

And ringing and chiming till it’s all done.

Then put bells in their bags, dismantle the tables

And, at some venues, disconnect all the cables.


Two vehicles to load, bring everything out,

Each of us carrying, it's like a workout.

To get it all in is a really tight squeeze

But with Alan in charge its done in a breeze.


We're quite a big team, too many to name,

But to miss us all out would seem quite a shame,

So let's give it a go see how we get on.

(At this point it's a pity there isn't a John.)


There's Josie and Joan, Sonja and Lynne,

Judith and Beryl, Wendy and Jean,

Callum the only one still  a young teen,

Sarah and Dave, Peter, Alan, Sue R.

There is also Sue F, that's all, Hoorah!


We wear a smart uniform, red scarves and bow ties

But cufflinks are banned for us old fashioned guys

I found out to my cost 'cause they create an odd sound

When on the end of the base chimes they tend to rebound.


The ladies also have to watch how they dress

Although they usually all like to impress.

No buttons on tops or necklaces too long

‘Cause when damping the bells they tend to go ding dong.


Well that's it for this year, as a full team,

But it won't be long now, before our normal regime

Of practice on Wednesdays, meet at Glenfield

Ready for Wendy her baton to wield.

Peter  19.12.18