M1: 16 July 2022 - Workington

West Cumbria looks forward...

When I was approached by my Tower Captain to consider attending an ART M1 teaching bell handling course, I was absolutely astonished. My initial reaction was to reject the suggestion because I don’t always see myself in the same way that others see me.

After thinking things over and talking to a fellow ringer who had also been approached, I felt much more positive and decided I was up for it after all!

On Saturday July 16th 2022, six West Cumbria ringers attended an ART M1 course at St Michael’s Church Workington, tutored by Christine Richardson and Judith Frye. We were supported by Gareth Evans, Tower Captain and his wife Pat.

Teaching experience ranged from no experience to 50 years plus. No prizes for guessing where I am on the scale!

And off we went on a very focused, thoroughly enjoyable training the trainer day. Although the day combined theory and practical exercises, the emphasis was definitely on the latter. Classroom based topics included: safeguarding, learning styles, and ART’s whole/part/whole approach. Working in pairs with support and encouragement from the course tutors and Pat and Gareth Evans, the practical exercises put meat on the bones of teaching bell handling. We were shown, then practised the techniques and skills of safe handling, building skills for the backstroke, handstroke, putting the strokes together, and raising and lowering a bell. As you might guess, the bells went up and down like yo-yos so we could practice the skills we will need to train the next generation of ringers. In the final practical session we had the opportunity to spot, practice and correct deliberate handling errors, e.g. wrong handstroke grip and come up with remedial exercises. If you think spotting handling errors is difficult, it’s much harder than you might think to demonstrate them!

The real wow moment for me was when we were shown how to recover a lost rope and given the opportunity to practice this skill. Although I was dry mouthed and anxious, I had a go and discovered that I could recover a lost rope. Amazing!

I came away from the day shattered but ready for the challenge of teaching bell handling. I also came away feeling much more confident about my own bell ringing journey. It is a very complex subtle skill. Five years down the road, I have a much greater understanding of what I know and can do, and what I don’t know and can’t yet do - and West Cumbria has six ringers who can go on and teach bell handling to the next generation of ringers, gaining ART accreditation in the process.

If your Tower Captain, suggests you attend an ART course, or any other course for that matter - go for it!

Margaret Miller

Course Tutors: Christine Richardson and Judith Frye

Teaching Bell Handling

Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.

» Find out more about Module 1