When the lockdown first started, none of us had any idea how long it would go on for or what the long-term implications would be. However, in common with many other community groups, it seemed important to maintain regular contact with our ringers – the children in particular. In a fit of enthusiasm, I emailed a ringing quiz to all the ringers in our little village of Roos. This met with mixed success.
Meanwhile Ringing Room was getting off the ground. I was vaguely aware of it but have to confess to not being very interested. I was more concerned with when we could get back in the tower. The ringers were missing it.
Somewhat reluctantly I joined a Beverley and District Ringing Society Ringing Room meeting and it was instantly apparent that this would be an excellent way of engaging with our ringers and keeping them in touch with each other.
Parents were contacted about signing up the young ringers and we have held our weekly practice online ever since. The young ones have taken to the Ringing Room like ducks to water. They have all made a significant amount of progress. On tower bells some were just ringing rounds or still learning how to handle a bell. In the Ringing Room Call Changes have not caused any problems, they can all Plain Hunt on any bell.
Some have progressed onto ringing Plain Bob Doubles and Plain Bob Minor inside. Some have attended the Beverley and District Ringing Room meetings to get some extra practice with a solid band around them and Jayden aged 10 had the excitement of speaking live on BBC Radio Humberside with his mother. Jayden was able to convey just how much he loves ringing and how interesting it can be.
Of course, it remains to be seen how easily this additional knowledge is transferred back onto the tower bells. We adults have found it quite a challenge to ring even simple methods electronically. I certainly struggled without the physicality of a handstroke and backstroke. The concept of changing speed isn’t nearly so obvious in the Ringing Room.
What is clear though is that the young ringers’ knowledge of theory is now ahead of their practical skills and it has been really useful to have this time to explain things away from the busy environment of tower practices.
We are now able to ring in a very limited way back in the tower on Sundays. Any learner who is worried about whether they have ‘forgotten’ how to ring has the opportunity to have a solo practice midweek. Thankfully, because they have all been taught using the ‘Learning the Ropes’ method it means they can all ring up and down without assistance which means we are COVID-19.