Barnes and its ART Award - one year on

Well, I suppose it is alright to admit it publicly now, but our application for the 2018 ART award was purely money driven! For quite some time I had cherished the idea of installing dumbells in Barnes but, as for all of us, cost was the problem. So, when reading ART announcements in the autumn of 2017 that various companies and others were sponsoring awards in different areas, it seemed that we should at least consider applying. I took a look. A ‘Youth Group Award’? No involvement with youth groups at the moment. ‘Innovation in the Effective Use of Technology in Teaching’? Not really. We use Abel but only on a fairly basic level. ‘Innovation in Recruitment or Retention’? It was a long time since we had launched a recruitment drive. ‘University Society’? Too many bus pass holders in our group !So that just left ‘Inspiring Leadership in Ringing’ sponsored by Talent Innovations - £500. Food for thought. We wanted the money so … only one way to go!

Some weeks later we had got our thoughts together. That in itself was a really interesting exercise. We didn’t think we were doing anything different. By July 2017 we had three members of ART and were fully committed to the ART Training Scheme for our learners. So we had to look carefully at exactly what it was we were doing at our Saturday morning practices and how to describe that in an application. I homed in on how we treated people, the importance of providing a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which learners flourish, our aim to ensure learners feel their time has been well spent and more. Imagine our huge excitement when the announcement was made at the Royston ART Conference in March 2018 that we had won our category!

» Barnes ART Award Nomination

I came back full of determination to move forward. With sometimes as many as 20 people present at our Saturday morning sessions our facilities are regularly stretched. We worked out that we needed £10,000 for ‘Updating & Upgrading our Training Resources’ - 2 Matthew Higby Dumbells, 2 more laptops to take recent ABEL releases, a lot of smaller items including augmentation and housing of the simulator interface, a new permanent audio system, improvements to the CCTV facilities displaying the bells at ground level and better video facilities for the simulator. This budget didn’t even touch on the improvements to the existing sound control.

OK the prize money was only 5% of our budget but, most importantly, it was the stimulus needed to get us started!

We put an application into the Surrey Association who were able to offer us £4,000 from a recent bequest. We really were in full swing now - nearly half way and it’s still only April! The church were fully supportive of the new facilities but made it clear they couldn’t help financially. Some generous contributions over the summer from learners and others brought us up another £1000. It was clear we needed to go public! In November I was given permission by the church to set up a MyDonate site, to facilitate gift aid, for our project Do you love the bells ringing in Barnes?. So many people in the local community tell us they DO love the bells so ... would they help us? I felt that being able to state that we had won a national award for Inspiring Leadership in Ringing would certainly convince people they were backing something worthwhile. Early in January I received a notice from BT saying they would be closing their MyDonate scheme – groan!! It was time to launch quickly and hope that the five months left would be sufficient. I was thrilled that within 12 days of the launch we had received another £1500. I accept that I have emailed anyone I can think of who might help, including exercise class friends and even my Gin Club members! One of my learners pointed out the other day that the wording ‘Heritage skill’ ticks boxes these days, so more tweaking required.

So, thanks to Talent Innovations and ART for the encouragement received by winning this award, we now have two dumbells sitting in our clockroom. Currently only one can be used (by swapping the rope through the hole for our treble). We await a visit from a structural surveyor before the final installation which apparently needs a Faculty – just to make two rope holes in our 1980’s ceiling!