Having just returned from a fabulous rally at Alton (Staffs) Village Hall hosted by Alton Handbell Ringers, to which I belong, I realise that it’s my turn to write a piece for the website!
Weather wasn’t brilliant as most of the day it was drizzling, but who cares what’s going on outside when so much fun was to be had indoors in the warm!
Planning for such an event began months ago. Booking the hall, the layout of tables for the bells, not forgetting the most important ingredients for such a day - lots of tea and the homemade buffet of course. (WI notes became quite useful when catering for over 70 people!!)
It is also a special year for our Alton team as we are celebrating our Silver Jubilee!! Josie offered to make and ice a cake to share. When Alan and Wendy cut the first slice everyone sang Happy Birthday!! We also played a special piece near the end of the day called “Celebration.”
Ten teams enrolled for the day from the West Midlands Area, NE Region and 3 ringers from the Brailsford Team in the East Midlands Area. Therefore some had quite a journey, consequently all arriving at approximately the same time and in need of the facilities and a cuppa before unloading all their equipment to set up in their allocated places.
As you can imagine there were various levels of experience (a few months to many years!) and various sizes of teams from “Tintinabulus” (2 players ringing “Four in Hand” WOW!) to the BIG “Sunday 5 Octave Workshop”! I love the sound of those deep bass bells!)
Such a variety of styles and techniques were also on display when each team rang their “own choice” pieces in timed slots throughout the day.
Guest conductors Tim Willets (Chairman of HRGB) and Jason Walker (Secretary of the WM Region of HRGB) were also “on the baton” for two massed ringing items for which all participants had received copies a few months ago to prepare. (“Reverie” arranged by Michael Helman and Jason’s own arrangement of “To God be the Glory”).
Then there was “Ringing from Scratch” where Richard Hartnell (Vice Chairman of the WM Region of HRGB) picked up the baton and gave out a piece we’d never seen before!!
All three were very strict with us but what a fantastic sound we achieved (with fun) the more they nagged!!!
Oh, and I mustn’t forget the Chinese Raffle!! What a great way to do a raffle with no fuss, no bother and much quicker than usual!!
Thanks to everyone who came and a big thank you to our extra slaves in the kitchen. All contributing to making it a great day that we shall talk about for a long time!!
Sarah Williams 3.10.16
Photo by Alan Walters
We enjoyed a wonderfully warm and friendly evening with members of Rushton Spencer WI last Tuesday. They meet in the village community pub, the Royal Oak, so we knew we’d have a good time.
Our 12 bell band played after the regular business meeting (which was kept very short). We set up by the bar and launched into our 12 bell repertoire. In no time at all the audience started singing along. What a boost that gave us!
Several people were keen to have a go on the bells at the end of our performance and, with a lot of laughter, managed to ring a very passable rendition of a popular Elvis number.
After our performance, in the hubbub of the bar, I persuaded a few people to record comments about us. Here they are:
Christine “I’ve never heard handbell ringing before, and I was amazed! It’s very difficult. I was impressed how difficult it must be to get the timing right and do it together.”
Frank “I think you were very good, but I’m not very musical.”
Margaret “Very entertaining evening. It’s amazing how many sounds you can make with so few bells.”
Shirley “I’m just admiring how clever your logo is, with the handbell in the letter A. It’s absolutely brilliant, as you were too.”
So thank you, Rushton WI, for a lovely evening.
On Saturday 1 October the glorious sound of massed handbells will ring out from Alton Village Hall to celebrate AHR Silver Jubilee year.
Alton Handbell Ringers are hosting the Regional Rally of West Midlands Handbell Ringers of Great Britain and welcoming 70 musicians from all over the West Midlands who will gather for a whole day of making music.
Fortified by plentiful food and drinks, individual teams of handbell ringers will play tunes of their choice and all the teams will join together for some marvellous massed ringing.
The occasion for this celebration was to give thanks for the life of Sir Arthur Percival Heywood who died on this day 100 years ago.
Sir Arthur was an engineer, well known with railway enthusiasts for developing his 15inch gauge railway. He also had a keen interest in Church Bells and founded the Central Council of Church Bellringers.
Sir Arthur's father, Sir Thomas Percival Heywood, built the church, which was designed by George Edmund Street, an eminent Victorian architect, in 1862, and today’s service was attended by Sir Peter and Lady Heywood together with other members of the family. Railway enthusiasts and bell ringers also attended to pay tribute to Sir Arthur and to give thanks for his life.
After the church service a short commemoration was held around the graveside, after which a short demonstration of rounds and call changes on 8 bells was performed by the Alton Handbell Ringers. The afternoon concluded with a peal of three Minimus methods rung on the church bells on behalf of The Central Council of Church Bellringers.
Text by Sue Robins 19.04.16
Photo by Alan Bettany 19.04.16