Future of Ringing: CC President responds

to issues raised by Chris Frye and Giles Blundell

I should like to make a joint response to two articles in the issue of 20th March from Chris Frye “Time for Change” (Comment p.275) and Giles Blundell “Action stations” (Letters p.278), both concerning the need for change in the way we approach the organisation and maintenance of ringing, although from different perspectives. In the past two to three years there has been much time, discussion and printed comment regarding The Future of Ringing; the big question is how can we move from the inherited organisations and ways of working to one capable of getting results?

Chris Frye is very much fixed on the potential of using the Ringing Foundation (RF) as a vehicle of change and indeed there have been close meetings between the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) and RF to examine such potential. Chris hits the nail on the head not only for RF but also for CCCBR and local societies – the key issue of funding for what is needed to secure and retain quality ringers for future years. Ringers are reluctant to stump up subscriptions to local associations let alone contributing to perceived “third parties” such as RF, ART and CCCBR. What is needed is a change of culture to ensure investment in new ringers to the same extent that is accepted for bell restoration. Such a change of culture is difficult to engender but we must try.

Turning to Giles Blundell’s call for action locally that again is the key factor in any successful improvement in recruitment and training of ringers. All too often there is a call for “someone to do something” assuming that the cavalry will come over the hill to assist. Whilst the various bodies involved in ringing can provide help with training courses, instructional material, publicity and other items, the real work on the ground can only be carried out by ringers at large. That means tower captains, their band members and through local co-operation, ringers from nearby towers The latter self-help arrangements have existed in many areas long before terms like “clustering” were invented.

At the Council May meeting proposals are to be put forward to hopefully change some of our ringing culture and to assist local associations in their key role in meeting needs appropriate to the vastly differing circumstances which apply across the country. In an ideal world a national ringing association funded by subscription would perhaps achieve comprehensive allegiance as do Guides and Scouts. It could also provide a stable basis for The Ringing World as a national membership newspaper. Perhaps one day we might achieve this but for the time being we must work with the inherited layers of organisation and above all open our pockets and roll up our sleeves.

President, CCCBR

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers