HRGB West Midlands Regional Rally Alton (Staffs) Saturday October 1st

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

An evening with Rushton Spencer WI

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.

Handbell Festival in Alton

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 bells rang out with joy on Tuesday 19th April 2016 at the beautiful village church of All Saints in Denstone, Staffordshire.

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

Celebrating AHR Silver Jubilee

This is a significant year for Alton Handbell Ringers as it is our Silver Jubilee. In January 2016 we discussed how we could celebrate the occasion on a “Team Day Out.” How about ringing the bells somewhere unusual, i.e at the top of Blackpool Tower, in a balloon, on an open top bus, on a boat?!!!! Perhaps not! 

More sensible suggestions were to perform at the local arts festival but it was too late to organise that this year. So it was proposed that we would offer to organise the Heart of England Spring Concert during Cheadle Arts Festival Week in March 2017. So watch this space!!!

However, we are hosting the 2016 Handbell Ringers of Great Britain (HRGB)* West Midlands Region Annual Rally on 1st October at Alton Village Hall.  Doors open from 10am at Alton Village Hall and the Rally will run from 11am until 4pm.

*HRGB was founded in 1967. The West Midlands Region has a total of 28 active handbell teams with total membership of 234 ringers, 173 adult members and 50 from youth teams. The region stretches from Wales in the west to ourselves in the east and includes Birmingham. More details can be found on 

Regional Rallies are always such good fun, starting off with “How do we fit every team into the hall?", and are a great opportunity to meet other ringers “ringing from the same hymn sheet” to coin a phrase! Well, not quite, as some teams ring from numbers, (horizontal or vertical) whilst others ring from real music where your own notes are there somewhere!! 

They will include teams of 3 ringers ringing 4 bells in each hand, to teams of up to 12 ringers ringing 3 octaves of bells. 

This is a great opportunity to show off what your team can do and on, the other side of the tables, to discover new music, witness different ringing styles and techniques and see how teams work together. 

The programme for the day usually involves the individual teams ringing 2 or 3 pieces (in approximately 10 minute slots) of their own choice.  At least 2 “mass ringing pieces” will be sent out to teams before the event to practise on home ground. After lunch, provided by AHR, it’ll be time for all the teams to practise together at the same time (great fun) ready to “perform” at the end of the afternoon.

Now, as it’s our anniversary, what piece could we do that’s appropriate for this mass ring? Perhaps the Anniversary Waltz? Congratulations?


Sarah Williams 17.04.16



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