The year 2012 provided two major international events to celebrate with ringing – the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and the 2012 London Olympics – and we certainly celebrated both of them in the Ely District. At the beginning of the year we aimed to ring for the Jubilee in as many of our towers as possible while ringing for the Olympics gained in momentum as the event got closer. In addition, Dee Smith as Education Officer challenged our ringers to set themselves a target of a new method or other achievement and dedicate it to the Diamond Jubilee.
Ringing specifically for the Jubilee started with a quarter of Plain Bob Major at Over on 6th February as this was the 60th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II.
On Saturday 2nd June, a peal of Plain Bob Major was rung at Swaffham Bulbeck (which was a first peal of major for two of the ringers); quarters were rung at Chatteris (two of Plain Bob Doubles, a first quarter pealer in one and a first inside in the other) and Over (Cambridge Surprise Major, completing an individual challenge).
On Sunday 3rd June quarter peals were rung at Chatteris (Plain Bob Doubles), Over (Plain Bob Triples) and Swavesey (Cambridge Surprise Minor).
On Monday 4th June, rounds and called changes were rung at Landbeach.
On Tuesday 5th June, a peal of Plain Bob Major was rung at Ely St Mary; quarters were rung at Cottenham (Plain Bob Doubles), Doddington (Grandsire Doubles), Haddenham (Mixed Doubles), Histon (Plain Bob Minor), Oakington (Norwich Surprise Minor), Rampton (Cambridge Surprise Minor) and Willingham (Plain Bob Minor); touches of Plain Bob Minor and Grandsire Triples were rung at Fordham; rounds, Queens and a 60 of Plain Bob Doubles were rung at Stretham.
On Thursday 7th June, a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles was rung at Swaffham Prior.
On Friday 8th June, a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor was rung at Oakington.
On Tuesday 12th June a peal of Doubles methods (1p, 7m) was rung at Stretham and was a first peal for the tenor ringer.
In addition, four individual challenges were completed by Ely District ringers in April and May. They were: Grandsire Doubles at Burwell, Bristol Surprise Major at Bluntisham and Stedman Triples at Fordham (all including a first in method), and Grandsire Doubles at Over (a first as conductor).
So, for the Jubilee, we rang on 26 separate occasions, including 16 of our district towers with a good range of methods and involving 60 of our district ringers (and there may have been more ringing which was not reported at the time).
Ringing for the Olympics started when the Olympic flame arrived in Cambridgeshire – on Saturday 7th July, quarters were rung at Haddenham (Plain Bob Minor) and Over (Plain Bob Triples). These quarters included Lynda and David Lee, regular visitors from Suffolk. David learnt to ring at Haddenham in 1967 and this was his first 6-bell quarter there.
At Burwell, on Saturday 14th July, a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles was rung for the start of the Burwell Olympics.
Several of our towers took part in the ‘All the Bells’ project – Martin Creed's ‘Work No, 1197: All the bells in the country rung as quickly and as loudly as possible for three minutes’ on Friday 27th July starting at 8.12 am to signal the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. There was some discussion on the most effective way to join in this project on tower bells and the following performances were reported: 60 call changes at Burwell; 3 minutes of rounds at Chatteris; chiming at Landbeach; 60 changes Grandsire and lower in peal at Over; 50 call changes at Willingham. Later in the day, also for the start of the Olympics, there was more ringing: at Chatteris, rounds were rung including different ringers; at Histon, a band of regular Histon ringers with visitors from the Cambridge District rang a quarter peal of Five Rings Triples spliced with Plain Bob Triples (Five Rings Triples was specially composed for the Olympics by Howard Skempton and this is believed to be the first true quarter peal including Five Rings Triples); at Longstanton, a quarter peal of Primrose Surprise Minor was rung. At Landbeach, everyone was invited to ‘Chime a Bell for the Olympics’ between 3 and 4 pm. This was a lively community occasion; over 40 people signed the visitor’s book, Landbeach have gained 11 new learners and 2 returning ringers.
On Sunday 12th August, the final day of the Olympics, a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor was rung at Histon to congratulate all the Team GB medal winners and in appreciation of the work of the organisers who made these Games a success.
In addition to all this special ringing, we have held a full programme of district meetings: two afternoon and two evening meetings with ringing at single towers, four meetings with ringing at two towers, an outing to Essex which visited five towers (starting with the 2 cwt six at Hadstock and ending with the 18 cwt eight at Sible Hedingham), a striking competition and a barbeque which fitted between showers in this damp summer. During these District meetings we rang at twelve of our district towers, including a visit to the new first floor ringing chamber at Wilburton, and also rang at Bluntisham in the Huntingdon District. The striking competition was held at Oakington where the Stretham band won the Method Section; Histon were placed second, closely followed by Over. In the Called Change Section, Over took first place with Burwell coming second. Tom Ridgman, as judge, congratulated all the teams taking part, especially in the Called Change section. He noted that it does take courage for a band to take part in a striking competition, but this is an important step and encourages a focus on good striking.
Two training events have been held this year – a morning session on Plain Hunt and Plain Bob Doubles at Isleham, arranged mainly for the Isleham and Burwell ringers, and an all-day session on Glasgow Surprise Major led by Paul Seaman and attended by ringers from the Ely and Cambridge Districts. Both these events were well-organised and well-attended and much appreciated by the students. We have arranged seven 8-bell quarter peal attempts on the 3rd Saturday in the month; all have been successful, although we had to ring minor with a cover in March as only seven ringers turned up. Three of these quarters have included a first in method, and one was a first of spliced as conductor, so these quarters made a useful contribution to developing ringing in the district.
As usual, Ely District ringers have been included in Association events. The inter-district striking competition was held at Northwold in Norfolk on Monday 7th May, the day of the Association AGM. The Ely District band rang Plain Bob Triples, followed by bands from the Huntingdon and Cambridge Districts both ringing Grandsire Triples. When the results were announced, the teams were placed in their ringing order so the Ely District band were delighted to receive the trophy for the second time in three years. An Association quarter peal afternoon was arranged for Saturday 29th September in the Huntingdon District, with a short meeting after a delicious tea at Houghton. Nine quarters were arranged, of which eight were successful, and seven of the quarters included one or more of the five Ely District members who took part.
Thanks to all who have made this a successful year for the district: to the ringing masters for making the ringing enjoyable and useful for us all; to the district officers and committee members for their hard work and enthusiasm; to all the incumbents for use of their bells; to the local ringers for welcoming us to their towers and providing wonderful teas; and to our district ringers and visitors for turning up and supporting the district events.