The Len Roberts Award for making a significant contribution to the promotion of ringing in their local area
Although fairly new to ringing, the five members of the Steele family have greatly improved local ringing and engagement of potential new learners by positive publicity at every opportunity. Richard and Rebecca in particular, have such enthusiasm for ringing that they continuously research interesting facts, liaise with ringers all over the country and immerse themselves into local ringing scenes, to gain useful insights to employ in their publicity campaigns. They have given talks to community groups as well as created a variety of promotional material (digital, written/printed) to raise the profile of ringing for the Wealden area of Kent and surrounding towers. Richard Steele is also a member of the “Tent Team” which puts up marquees at village events. He and his family have made themselves (and their bell-ringing activities) very well-known in the community and local pub. No local resident can be in any doubt who to approach if they wish to learn to ring and join their happy and enthusiastic band! Richard and Rebecca relish the challenge of overcoming potential stagnation in ringing through a positive outlook and gentle persistence, which is hard to resist.
Mainly through digital media (Facebook and Instagram) but also “hard copy” of bright and colourful posters, video clips of ringing, Richard and Rebecca produce an ever-changing stream of articles about ringing activities, ringing achievements and links to national events. They have excellent research and digital streaming skills. Links have been established to and from the Ringing Facebook Pages to other Community Facebook Pages to “push” ringing messages with frequent invitations to the general public to visit us.
Three members of the Steele family have undertaken the ART M1 Teacher Training course to enable them to teach any new learners who come forward. Meanwhile they are honing their skills through organised special practices with existing ART teachers and new learners in their area. In addition, younger members within local bands are encouraged to take on leadership roles within the towers they ring at (James, Richard’s 17 year-old son, is now the Ringing Master at Frittenden).
Links have been established with Cranbrook School Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Richard has given talks to students to encourage them to take up ringing for their skills section of the Bronze Award and service section of the Silver Award. Weekly after-school ringing teaching sessions exclusively for DofE students will begin early in 2023, supported by the whole Steele family and local teachers. Once able to handle a bell, the students will be encouraged to join their home towers for further development. The Steele family also supports local practises, district meetings and the Kent Young Ringers events.
Richard put together a Simulator Scheme for Frittenden Bells to be installed as a teaching aid, and was supported by a full grant from Kent County Association of Change Ringers. The redecoration of the Frittenden ringing room will ensure it is a welcoming place to learn. Fund-raising activities have raised the local profile of ringers Richard’s own apples were juiced and bottled to sell at local craft fairs with specially-designed labels referencing Frittenden Bell Ringers.
Achievements are as yet difficult to formally assess but so much energy and enthusiasm is regularly being pumped into local communities, we are sure that new people will come forward to learn in any one of the group of towers that Richard and Rebecca have been prompting and promoting publicly.
By pure dint of hard work and enthusiasm over the past years, Richard and Rebecca are worthy candidates for nomination to the Len Roberts Award for the Promotion of Ringing, particularly for applying, sharing and adapting their promotional materials and ideas across several towers in their neighbourhood. This enables and assists many other (less digitally-aware) tower captains to access and benefit from the modern communication methods that younger generations now use. They also ensure that the content is kept local and specific to each tower concerned. They have earned the respect and appreciation of many towers who are benefitting from their activities. They really are “movers and shakers” in the fullest sense of the definition “People of energetic demeanour, who initiate change and influence events”.
Links to the digital platforms set up and run by Richard and Rebecca:
Examples of the Parish Magazine Articles written by Rebecca (often adapted for and published in other Parishes too) can be found at: