West Midlands HRGB Rally 5 March 2016

A group of six of us represented the Alton Handbell Ringers at the West
Midlands Region of the Handbell Ringers of Great Britain AGM and rally on
5th March in Norton, Worcestershire.

We had a very enjoyable day, meeting handbell ringers from all over the region and listening to a wide range of very beautiful handbell ringing, from a 3 octave team of eight to a team of two people ringing 4 or 5 bells in hand.

We ourselves rang "In an English Country Garden", "Pomp and Circumstance" and "Rule Britannia". We then all joined in ringing and singing "All Glory Laud and Honour" as a massed ringing piece.

We were able to invite everyone to our Regional Rally on Saturday 1st October in Alton to help celebrate our 25th anniversary.

Wendy 7.03.16

£1040.00 raised for the Donna Louise Trust at our Concert on 5th December.

Alton Handbell Ringers hosted a charity music and supper night in aid of The Donna Louise Trust with guest performers, Moorland Voices, who began the evening with three African songs in a flash mob style!

Musical feast
What a musical feast followed; such a wide variety of pieces and techniques from both groups! Carole Green and Judith Denning supplied a couple of monologues and Rob Johns accompanied the choir on guitar.  After a pie and pea supper, with home-made puddings, the groups performed pieces of a more Christmassy flavour including a bell team processional of The Little Drummer Boy with percussion. 

Baton twirling

My husband was impressed with Wendy's baton twirling!! She was playing two bells in one hand and conducting when her baton flew out of her hand and landed behind her on the hall floor. Wendy carried on as normal as did the team. A member of the audience picked it up and put it back on the table for her. She picked it up and continued!! Great recovery!!

Janet Allen

‘Blessed Assurance’, in an arrangement with ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’, was dedicated to the memory of Janet Allen, a much loved member of the AHR Team.


The last piece of the evening was a special joint item ‘Rejoice and be Merry’, arranged for the two groups.          

With many thanks to Moorland Voices and to the many generous people who supported us in every way.

By Sarah Williams

The Performance (Does this ring a bell?)


Have I checked my bells?

Is that the correct sharp?

Is this music on my stand the right piece?

Oh dear…concentrate!



Watch Wendy’s wand -

Keep together.

Here we go ------!

It’s now or never!


Our bells are raised, we are ready to ring,

Oh dear I can’t remember a thing!


Keep calm it will be ok,

If you focus and remember to count… they say.


Where are my specs?

Where are my chimes?

I can’t remember how many times

I chose the wrong bell or picked up the wrong sharp!


“I’ve got the joy”, or I think I have!

“Oh no the wrong music!” she said.

“I seem to be looking at “Nimrod" instead!”



We hold up our mallets,

Then cross them in front of our faces,

This is the time we lose our places!

Sticks are flying, bells are clanging

There’s plenty of noise and lots of banging!


“Over the rainbow” we're playing it quite well,

As long as we remember to pick the right bell.

Oh, play it again, don't forget the repeat!

Keep ourselves steady, don't miss a beat.


And as for dynamics, the fast and the slow...

Rallentando, diminuendo or fortissimo!

So much to remember, the notes flying by,

I've skipped a whole line, I can't tell you why.


We finish the concert with Jerusalem,

Hopefully this one won’t go wrong,

The WI ladies love their song.

We play at our best,

No time for a rest.

Hooray, it's over. We've passed the test!!


Jean Reilly 30.09.15


It all started back in early June when, whilst on holiday in Madeira,

my wife received the latest Cheadle U3A email.  Alton Handbell Ringers were looking for new recruits and were to host an open day event on the 8th July.  Having an interest in things musical and previously having been a tower bell ringer in my youth, I quite fancied the idea of having a go.

It was with some trepidation that I went along to the church in Alton on the evening of the 8th July, and couldn’t help but think that I would no doubt be much older than the rest of the group and that  perhaps they wouldn’t want an old man as part of the team.

How wrong could I have been?  I received the warmest of welcomes from Wendy and the group and it was suggested that her husband Alan, being the sole male member, would perhaps appreciate some male company.

My reception into the team has been extremely good with lots of encouragement and little (although I deserve quite a lot of) criticism.  The Alton Handbell Ringers are a very warm and friendly group of people.

Well, eleven weeks on, I found myself stood in front of the Kniveton, Ashbourne and Tissington Womens Institute, about to take part in my first public appearance.  I arrived a little late due in part to giving a lift to someone who had moved house only a few days before.  We waited outside for a while and then knocked on the door several times, only to no avail.  Turns out we were at the wrong property – just one door away.  Upon arrival at Kniveton, I was furnished with a new bow tie and I dashed into the gents in search of a mirror.  Alas no mirror and everyone was by now waiting to start ringing.  I rushed into the village hall and became a slight object of ridicule as my shirt collar was twisted all over the place.  Thanks to Alan for sorting me out!

During recent practices, Wendy decided it would be a good idea if we all lifted our bells together upon her signal at the start of each piece.  This had been achieved with limited success but on the night it worked very well and I’m sure gave a professional image to those in attendance.

The performance was most enjoyable both for the participants and, it would seem from the warm applause and feedback, by our audience too.  Now I have to confess that when Wendy said we were to play to the Womens Institute, I thought maybe we would get a cup of tea and a piece of cake!  Well, after the concert had ended, the most wonderful spread appeared as if by magic.  All sorts of savoury treats, cakes and tea/coffee.  We were very well catered for and I would like to thank all those responsible.  This social part of the evening created an opportunity for me to chat and get to know everyone a little better.  When we meet for practice each week, there is little time for talking as we are very focused on ringing the bells.

So my first performance was a memorable experience and I hope that I will be a little less nervous when the next concert comes around.

Thank you Wendy, Alan and everyone else for your encouragement and enthusiasm.

Dave Jones



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