Alton Handbell Christmas Concert

Alton Village Hall

Christmas concert

Alton Village Hall

Saturday 3 December 2022


After two early Christmas concerts and several 12 bell appearances, our third and final full team concert of the season was upon us – our annual fundraiser at Alton Village Hall for the Donna Louise Hospice for Children & Young People (now part of the Douglas Macmillan (Dougie Mac) hospice).


In 2021, because of Covid, we restricted our audience numbers to family and friends and changed our traditional pie-and-pea supper to bring-your-own food and drink, with donations instead of a fixed ticket price. There were also no guest musicians. This worked very well, taking the pressure off our organisation and preparation, and we still raised a goodly sum. We really liked this arrangement which made it a more social evening and decided that this year we would do the same but encouraging a bigger audience, and they came!


For the first half of the concert, we rang a range of non-Christmas music, some especially written for handbells and including a Morris dance piece (Shepherd’s Hey) played using only mallets with jingle bells accompaniment, and the wonderful Highland Cathedral, which we all love and performed with gusto! Wendy and Alan then rang two four-in-hand (two bells in each hand) pieces to take us up to the interval.


During the break we were able to join our guests at their tables and enjoy some festive fare; then there was a whisky roll, and the very popular raffle was drawn.


Fully replenished, everyone started off the second half with a rousing singalong of The Twelve Days of Christmas led by Peter Walker on his accordion, and then a return to bells and Christmas music, starting with an arrangement of the (Native American/French Canadian) Huron Carol called ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime (with percussion accompaniment by Sarah) and finishing with Frosty the Snowman. There was rapturous applause from the audience and calls for an encore, which we hadn’t expected, so we rang Frosty again. Next year perhaps we’ll be prepared!


Lindsay Trevarthen

Doveridge November 22nd 2022

Alton Handbell Ringers

Alton Handbell Ringers performed our concert of the Christmas season on Tuesday 22nd November 2022 at 2.30pm.

We were welcomed at Doveridge village hall by the Doveridge seniors group, who seemed to enjoy our ringing.

We performed a mix of pieces of varying complexity including some well-rehearsed melodies, some newer tunes and of course some Christmas pieces, ending with Frosty the Snowman.

There were refreshments after the performance and some of the audience showed an interest in the bells and other equipment.


Handbell Ringers at Denstone Farm Shop

Thursday 10th November 2022

On Thursday November 10th we visited Denstone Farm Shop for the first of our Christmas visits this year. What a lovely evening.

The shop was decorated ready for the Christmas season, and had obviously attracted many customers. We played for two sessions in the restaurant, with everyone obviously enjoying all of the traditional tunes and carols. Some of the small children had great fun playing the sleigh bells as accompaniment to “Jingle Bells”

We enjoyed delicious refreshments (Turkey baps and mulled wine) during the interval, and were thanked enthusiastically by the owners, staff and customers as we left.

We hope that we brought a little extra Christmas spirit at the beginning of this special season. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening.

Lynne Harris

St George's Hospital Stafford

November 1st 2022

Demonstration and Teaching Session

Alton Handbell Ringers had been contacted by a Staff member at St Georges Hospital to see if we could provide some tuition for them to ring their own bells.  As they had no real knowledge of ringing as a team, but wanted to make use of their bells for staff and patients. they contacted us, after seeing our website, to ask for help.

Seven handbell ringers duly went to St George's and were warmly welcomed and escorted to to one of the wards. We decided to ring their selection of bells.

Wendy gave a short talk about the method of ringing, reading the number method of ringing, how to hold the bells, letting them ring out and damping the bells. Several questions were asked and answered which was rewarding for both parties.

We then played two tunes for them, 'Aura Lee' and 'Good King Wenceslas'.

Now came the time for the bells to be distributed, one each, around the room to staff and patients.  Most were keen to take part. Each of our members looked after one or two people giving instruction as to how to hold the bell and how to make it ring. 

Led by Wendy everyone took part in playing the scale from top to bottom a few times and then from bottom to top. A few chords were played to illustrate the different sounds when several bells are played at the same time.

Now came the time to try some actual tunes. We had taken music for a simple version of 'Bobby Shaftoe', this was well played albeit at a slow pace. A second simple piece 'He's Got The Whole World in His Hands' was also played with the same success. Much enjoyment was had by all. A sense of achievement filled the room.

The session was concluded with us playing 'Mary's Boy Child'

Our attendance was much appreciated and it was a rewarding occasion for all concerned.

Another session is planned in the near future when perhaps we will all be able to play together. Closer to Christmas, December 7th, we will play Carols and Christmas tunes around some of the wards.

Peter Walker

HRGB Joint WM & EM Rally

Joint WM & EM Rally

On Saturday 15th October, fifteen members of Alton Handbell Ringers attended the HRGB joint East Midlands / West Midland rally in Kenilworth. There were about half a dozen teams from across the joint regions and there must have been in the region of a hundred ringers.

This was my first rally as a handbell ringer, so I had no idea of what to expect, but the day went well. We had a massed piece conducted by our own Wendy to start with and then had individual performances from the various groups present, ranging from three people ringing 12 bells between them (four in hand) to our performance as we were the biggest group there. There were some very skilled ringers and all groups produced entertaining pieces.

After a lunch break for our “picnic” (with provided tea, coffee, biscuits and cake throughout the day), we returned to a similar format for the afternoon. Our rendition of Highland Cathedral was a bit grander than the version played in the morning session by a smaller group. I think I prefer ours - it is a fun piece to play, especially when I get my part right.

All in all, an enjoyable day out, although it was a long day due to the distance (and road works).