Noyes Fludde, Lichfield Cathedral 7July 2018.

AHR Team with Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music, Chethams Music School, just before the performance began.

Heavenly Handbell Ringers - impressions of the experience...

1.  Sue Robins 8.7.18

Excited - to be asked to ring
Terror - are we good enough !
Courage - of course we can.
Practice - quite a difficult piece. 
Apprehension - what are we letting ourselves in for.
Comfort - Wendy not conducting .... no comfort blanket !!
Confidence - we’ve got it. We can do it.
Conductor - builder of confidence
Enjoyment - such an honour to be part of the performance with so many talented youngsters.  
Elated- we gave it our best and were complimented  on our ringing.
Lesson -  have confidence.  We can do it. 


2.  Jean Reilly 11.7.18

What an amazing day!  One of the best adventures you can ever imagine.  Team spirit was filtering through to all of us as though we were one.

Inside the cathedral it was fascinating to see the hard work and dedication of all the cast and helpers in the Noyes Fludde team behind the scenes. They were so calm, focused and committed to complete their preparations.

We were welcomed soon after we entered the cathedral with, “Hello you lovely ladies!”  What a boost!

The conductor, Stephen Threlfall* was a very friendly and pleasant man who took us under his wing. He praised and advised us and gave us the push to jump in at the deep end, which we did feet first!

Cathy Lamb* was very welcoming and generously gave us the use of her house to rest, change and get ready for the evening performance.

We practised and practised right up to the very last minute. With Rowena’s* help and encouragement she gave us the confidence to feel prepared for the performance.

Being on stage, poised and ready, was nerve wracking but we were also excited, with adrenaline flowing like a fountain. It was mind-blowing, everyone together, music, percussion, singing, Noah speaking!  We were in a parallel universe where exciting things were happening and we were part of it. At crucial times we lost sight of Stephen conducting but, unfazed, we carried on ringing our own version of the score in front of us.

At the finish, rapturous applause echoed through the Cathedral. What a high!

It was a truly fantastic day, which I would not have missed for the world, but most of all I felt very privileged to be part of the whole experience.

*Stephen Threlfall (Director of Music and Head of Vocal, Chetham’s School of Music).

*Cathy Lamb (Director of Lichfield Cathedral Young Voices).

*Rowena Dawson (Visiting Member of the Inn Ringers Handbell Team).


3.  Lynne Croxall 13.7.18

It was such a privilege to be invited to play during the performance of Noye’s Fludde, and just a little nerve wracking! 
To play in such a great cathedral, with a hugely talented young orchestra, and professional singers was indeed daunting. There was a pressure to perform well in front of so many in the audience, and the piece was difficult.
However, this was an amazing experience which I will never forget. Playing handbells has indeed opened new doors, and enabled shared me to share such occasions with new friends.  We were treated with such kindness by everyone, and such patience by the conductor!
It was a truly great and memorable evening!


4.  Sue Fraser 14.7.18

Taking part in Britten’s ‘Noye’s Fludde’ was the experience of a lifetime, never to be forgotten, and made more special by the kindness of everyone, both those working behind the scenes and the performers, who made us feel we were truly part of the whole team.  We were also hugely encouraged by Rowena Dawson, who gave freely of her time to coach and ring with us.

We were warmly welcomed by Cathy Lamb, on Thursday into the Great Hall of Lichfield School of Music for our first rehearsal, and on Saturday into the Cathedral itself for the Dress Rehearsal and later the Performance.  Cathy had already come to Alton for a special practice with us, so that we would know exactly how our bells fitted into the composition.  Stephen Threlfall, who conducted the work, shared with us his skill and musical wisdom, supporting us all the way through. We greatly appreciated this as Britten’s music is difficult and extremely challenging for us.

The powerful music rolled through the cathedral and soared up to the ornately carved roof.  As the storm built, so did the tension and excitement. The delicate dances  of the Raven and Dove led into the rejoicing after the flood, when Alleluia, sung by the children, alerted us to be ready to ring out our bells in joy. The cathedral resounded to the magnificence of the orchestras, the choirs and the hundreds of voices of the audience.  It was deeply moving, even overwhelming, and we were privileged to add the tones of our bells to the glorious sound.


Praise Indeed!

Concentration in rehearsal!

Dear Wendy and all your Team: 

On behalf of everyone from Denstone Tuesday Club, may I thank you once again for your superb concert.  The whole performance, from the dressed table for the bells, your smart appearance and, of course, the music, plus the information you gave us, was not only professional but also awe-inspiring.  I think most of us were magnetised by the ambi-dexterity of all the ringers and their sheer concentration.

We are all looking forward to next year.

Many, many thanks,

Wendy Forrester, 6 March 2018

Photo by Alan Walters: 'The 4 Belles - A study in concentration!'


Pictures of Open Rehearsal Session of the Alton Handbell Ringers

Moments of intense concentration by our visitors, captured on camera by Alan, as Team members helped them to produce a very creditable rendition of ‘Like a River Glorious’.

As part of the National Get Creative Festival being celebrated as part of Cheadle Arts Festival, we invited people to:

    *Find out about tune ringing on handbells*

    *See how we rehearse*

    *See how different techniques produce different sounds*

    *Have a go themselves*

The Get Creative Festival is a national celebration of everything creative, taking place across the UK from 17-25 March 2018. The annual festival is a merger of the previous Get Creative Weekend and Voluntary Arts Festival - now joined together to make one huge nationwide event.  Get Creative Festival shines a light on all the great cultural activity that takes place right across the UK on a regular basis and encourages people to try their hand at something new and creative.

Photos by Alan Walters 21.3.18

Carols at the Roundhouse in Alton

We had a good time at the Carols at the Roundhouse in Alton on Friday 15th December. There were quite a few people there enjoying Christmas carols and the nativity scene in the village Roundhouse. The Handbell Ringers then rang some Christmas carols and songs while folk gathered round with mulled wine and soup and warmed themselves by the brazier. Lynne, Peter and Sonja clearly enjoyed themselves too!

Text and Photos by Alan Walters

“What the Dickens?” Christmas carols on bells in the Sculpture Gallery at Chatsworth House, Thursday 7th and Friday 8th December.

“Great Expectations” was the setting for our carol concert this year.  A ghostly Miss Havisham glided into the Gallery from her cobweb covered, yet magnificent, dining room as we arrived….. 

Thursday afternoon:

We set off in plenty of time to reach Chatsworth and set up our bells ready to ring at 5:30pm. It always takes longer than we think to check in and be shown into the Sculpture Gallery where we play. This year we were led in through the house itself and so got a glimpse of the wonderful decorations and trees on display and actors dressed in Dickensian costume. What a magical sight!

Tonight we have a team of 8 ringers plus Wendy, our conductor, enabling us to change in and out as only 6 of us play at any one time. It is quite tiring playing for 2 hours and standing for that length of time. It is always chilly at Chatsworth and those of us who have been before know to go prepared with plenty of layers and warm drinks.

We set up our stands and music, picked up our bells and had a run through of a couple of carols before people started to filter through from the guided tour of the house. Initially only one or two people came through but then larger groups appeared; some just walked through, others stopped to listen, some for more than one tune. We had some gentle applause and many favourable comments as to how nice the bells sound. We rang a selection of carols and Christmas music and finished ringing at 8pm.

Friday afternoon:

We woke up to snow this morning and wondered what the weather would be like up in the Peak Park; set off mid afternoon for Chatsworth not knowing what sort of journey we would face. We had not had any further snowfall but the higher parts of the route still had compacted snow on the roads, which made driving hazardous in places. However, once we reached the A6 the rest of the route to Chatsworth was clear.

We set up our bells as on the previous night but tonight we are a team of 6 plus Wendy, meaning we are all ringing all of the time. Wendy rings bells occasionally to give each of us a break but this means we then have no conductor.

Good ringing again tonight and many appreciative comments once again. Some young children helped us out by ringing our sleigh bells along with us for ‘Jingle Bells’ and they really enjoyed that, so much so that one family came back for another go.

We closed the evening again at about 8pm and made our way home, this time using the main roads, as by this time it was freezing, and although this took a bit longer at least we all arrived home safely.

All in all a very enjoyable couple of evenings in the run up to Christmas.

Josie 9.12.17

Photos by Alan Walters