News and Articles

Annual District Meeting for the Ely District, 03/01/2015

posted 17 May 2016, 03:21 by Janet Garnett

The Annual District Meeting for the Ely District was held at Fordham on Saturday 3rd January 2015. As the final stage in the commemorative quarter peals which were rung in 2014 for Rosemary Palmer and Colin Johnson, Dee Smith presented Roger Palmer and Sue Marsden with handsome books containing details of all the quarter peals, with photos of the churches and some of the bands, and letters of thanks for the charity donations. Photos are below, thanks to Peter Binns.

Most of the District Officers were re-elected to continue in the same posts as last year. Sue Marsden is the Central Council representative for the Wisbech District, and thus is already an ex-officio member of the Diocesan Committee, so she stood down as one of our Diocesan Committee representatives, and Roderick Johnstone was elected in her place. Rachel Frost was elected to the committee as a junior member. Names of all District Officers and committee members, with contact details where relevant, arehere.

Presentation to Roger Palmer
Presentation to Sue Marsden

A page in the quarter peal books

Quarter peal at Landbeach 29/03/2015

posted 17 May 2016, 03:17 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 17 May 2016, 03:17 ]

The Landbeach Bell Ringers have just rung the first ever quarter peal of Minimus by a local band.(details here).

This was to celebrate the eightieth birthday of the Rev Brian Macdonald-Milne, Rector of Landbeach 1983-1988. It was a first quarter peal away from cover for Reece Perry and Greg Smith. All the band were taught to ring by Nicholas Small, who conducted the quarter peal

Brian watched us ringing, as did several parishioners. We then shared birthday cake, and the ringers were very touched to receive presents of pots of bulbs from Brian.

The photo shows the band in ringing order (1 Reece Perry, 2 Greg Smith, 3 Barbara Le Gallez, 4 Nicholas Small), with Brian in the middle (click on the photo for a larger version).

Ely DA quarter peal afternoon - 29/11/2014

posted 17 May 2016, 03:00 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 17 May 2016, 03:00 ]

The band who rang Reece Perry's first quarter peal at Wilburton
  • Quarter peal attempts 2.30-4.00 pm and 6.00-7.30 pm
  • Tea in the Guildhall, Burwell (located in St Mary's churchyard) from approx 4.00 pm.
  • There will be short business meeting after tea at 5.00 pm at which it is proposed to ratify the following grants:
    • £500 to BURWELL (previously incorrectly shown as Holywell)
    • £10,000 to Bottisham
    • £15,700 plus £15,000 loan to Meldreth.
  • The business meeting will also include the ratification of Robert Bramley as Bell Fund Trustee.
Over 40 ringers were at the tea and meeting, the grants were approved and the Bell Fund Trustee was elected. Quarter peals were rung at Exning, Haddenham, Over, Stretham and Wilburton (which was a first quarter for Reece Perry of Landbeach), and attempted at Fordham, Isleham and Soham. Details are here.

Ely District Outing 2015

posted 18 Apr 2015, 01:56 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 17 May 2016, 03:06 ]

The Ely District outing on Saturday11th April 2015 visited six towers on the border between Suffolk and Norfolk, and included towers in the Suffolk Guild, the Norfolk DA and the Ely DA. Thanks to Sue Marsden for an enjoyable day out. This photo shows some of us ringing at Lakenheath, the first tower of the day. More photos here.

Longstanton Primary School Project

posted 17 Apr 2015, 06:26 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 17 Apr 2015, 06:27 ]

Longstanton primary school pupil's project qualifies as a ringing success.

Twelve year six pupils from Hatton Park Primary School, Longstanton, near Cambridge, were taught to ring in rounds in record time in response to a challenge from their Head Teacher, Matthew Try. Although not a ringer himself, Mr Try wanted the children to learn so that they could ring the bells at nearby All Saints’ Church before their school Christmas service in December 2014.

In November 2014, retired Hatton Park Primary School caretaker and ringer at All Saints’, Mike Cartwright, rose to the challenge and began organising weekly Saturday morning teaching sessions for the children at the church, with help from a team of experienced ringing teachers from the Ely Diocesan Association. Progressing quickly, the Hatton Park Primary School Ringers were ready for the big day after only five weeks of practice. With their ringing teachers alongside to give encouragement and guard against mishaps, two bands of six children each rang rounds at All Saints’ Church before their school Christmas service on 17 December whilst proud parents looked on. 

Spurred on by their success, all the Longstanton children have continued to develop their skills at Saturday morning and Wednesday evening practices at All Saints’. Their goal was to achieve their ‘Learning the Ropes’ certificates, which were awarded at Hatton Park Primary School by Head Teacher, Matthew Try on Monday 9 March 2015. Delighted with his pupils’ achievement, Matthew said: “It has been such a pleasure to see the children grow in confidence over such a short space of time to the point where they gave the Annual Christmas Church Service a memorable opening. It is also a credit to the work of Mr Cartwright and the volunteers, in that the children wanted to continue into 2015 and beyond.”

On behalf of all the visiting ringing teachers from the Ely Association, lead coach Lesley Boyle added: “It was a highly rewarding experience to teach such an enthusiastic and willing group of youngsters. They are a credit to their school, church and village and I am certain that many of them will go on to become very good ringers.”
Peter Binns

Handbell Concert, Stretham, 06/12/2014

posted 9 Dec 2014, 01:17 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 30 Dec 2014, 09:01 ]

The Handbells at Christmastide concert in St James Church, Stretham was a delightful candlelit concert of traditional and popular music and change-ringing performed on handbells and other instruments. The performers were the 1st Little Thetford Brigade, the recorder group of the University of the Third  Age, the Cottenham Handbell Ringers, the Bottisham Handbell Ensemble and local change ringers. The concert was organised in aid of the Ely Diocesan Association’s Recruitment & Training Fund, and about £400 was raised for the fund. 
Thanks to Ruth Bramley and Barbara Le Gallex for the photos, click on a photo to see a larger version.

1st Little Thetford Brigade with Handbells

<- Peter Binns lighting the candles

Recorder Group of the
University of the Third Age

Cottenham Handbell Ringers,
led by Gerald Walker

The Bottisham Handbell Ensemble

Local change ringers

Organisational Mishaps

posted 30 Oct 2014, 08:45 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 30 Oct 2014, 08:47 ]

By Alan Barber (Our Northern Correspondent) 

The inspiration for this article was poor Peter Waterfield who recently met 11 short for a peal of Stedman Cinques. These are some of the incidents I’ve encountered during my ringing career. With two exceptions the names of the individuals have been withheld to protect the innocent or should that be the guilty?

The first ever 12 bell I organised was at a tower which had to have a late afternoon start.  Reaching the venue early I was surprised to see a member of the band (Mr A) exiting the car park.  Due to a breakdown in communications Mr A had been led to believe it was a 3.00 start and having waited for ages was just leaving as we arrived.  We finished up ringing a peal on the back 10. more...

Singing for Ringing, Oakington, 20/09/2014

posted 17 Oct 2014, 08:42 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 17 Oct 2014, 08:43 ]

Local folk duo gave specially-themed concert in aid of recruitment and training of new bell ringers 

On Saturday 20 September, Cambridgeshire folk singers Ann Biggs and Ruth Bramley gave a concert at St Andrew’s Church, Oakington to raise funds for the recruitment and training of new bell ringers across the Diocese of Ely. 

With two voices in harmony and accompaniment on guitar, hurdy-gurdy and the unusual Appalachian dulcimer, ‘Singing for Ringing’ was a lively evening of folk songs and music specially chosen and written to celebrate bells and bell ringing. The concert opened very appropriately with one of the better-known songs about ringing , ‘Men of Northlew’, which tells the story of a striking competition in Devon where “the men of Northlew rang so steady and true”.

There followed a full and varied programme of numbers – some with admittedly a more tenuous connection with bell ringing than others(!) – with refreshments in the interval kindly organised by Barbara Le Gallez.  Ann and Ruth’s ‘piece de resistance’ to close the concert was a new bell ringing song ‘Ringing the changes’ penned by Ruth herself. Stuffed full of familiar ringing references and jargon, and with a rousing chorus supported by the audience, ‘Ringing the changes’ was a fitting end to a most enjoyable concert.

Ann and Ruth first sang together in 1988, when they were asked to perform a couple of folk songs as part of a concert given by Haddenham Singers, of which they were both members. Shortly afterwards, they started singing together at folk clubs, and for many years worked as children’s entertainers, under the name Big Apple Pie, taking folk music and songs into schools. The songs they performed in schools were carefully chosen to complement the topics being studied by the children. Ruth has also run the Ely Folk Club since 1993. Ruth started bell ringing in March 2012 at Stretham, and also regularly rings at Haddenham and Bluntisham.

Whilst admission and refreshments were free of charge, members of the audience gave generously in support of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers’ Recruitment and Training Fund, raising over £325. This will go towards the costs of publicity to generate enquiries from and recruit prospective bell ringers, and to pay for the equipping and operation of Ringing Education Centres delivering formalised training, tuition and practice facilities.
Peter Binns

Plain Hunt course, Stretham, 20/09/2014

posted 8 Oct 2014, 01:41 by Janet Garnett   [ updated 8 Oct 2014, 02:34 ]

Theory session
Attended by seven improving ringers from Isleham, Burwell, Chatteris, Over and Stretham, and at least as many helpers, Dee Smith’s ‘Introduction to Ringing Plain Hunt’ course at Stretham on Saturday 20 September proved to be a great success. 

After a welcoming cuppa, the course began just after 10.00am with an hour’s theory session during which Dee gave a thorough explanation of how plain hunt works and the techniques required to ring slower or faster than in rounds. The ringers were then asked to write out the order of the bells in plain hunt on five and plaint hunt on six, drawing in the blue line and identifying course and after bells.

In the ringing chamber
Steeped in theory and further refreshed with tea and coffee, everyone ascended to Stretham’s ringing chamber for the practical part of the course. After a quite respectable rise in peal by some of the helpers, Dee began by inviting each ringer in turn to ring the treble with five helpers, starting with exercises making whole pulls in second’s, third’s and fourth’s place. After giving all seven ringers a fair amount of time on this exercise learning how to ring slower then faster to achieve a clear and accurate change of place, Dee moved on to plain hunt ‘proper’, teaching each ringer in turn how to hunt up and down changing places at each handstroke and backstroke. 

The group of students and helpers
As the course came to a close, all the participants felt they had benefitted and would go back to their home towers with greater confidence to further develop their plain hunting ability. However, this course was designed only as an ‘Introduction’ so it is hoped that everyone will return when Dee is able to organise a follow-up course in the future.

The course also demonstrated the suitability of St James, Stretham for such events, with its well-tempered ring of bells, good facilities, separate theory teaching room and welcoming atmosphere. This bodes well for the development of the planned Ringing Education Centre at Stretham. Thanks to Geoff Grayton for the photos (click on a photo to see a larger version).
Peter Binns

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