by Alice Scott (Bedforshire team)

Preparation is key for any team, from a football team, to an orchestra, to a group of young campanologists who are just bonkers about bells.

In the months leading up to the competition day, teams from across the country would have been meeting in many towers on numerous occasions, in order to find the ringers who would represent their area in the Ringing World National Youth Contest 2012, held in Birmingham. The budding ringers of Bedfordshire were no exception.

Preparations in anticipation of the day began early in 2012, with the invitation from Sue Silver, President of the Bedfordshire Association, to all those who were interested in representing the county. A warm and extensive response was received with young ringers coming forward from all three districts within the association; Biggleswade District, Bedford District and Luton District. Tension and excitement grew then as the date approached for the first practice, to be held at Clifton, a relatively light eight, close to the true weight of the competition tower. This was a very successful practice, not only through the competition potential, but with young ringers getting together and ringing, and eating plenty of cake during a well earned break. The afternoon was run by Martin and Maggie Whiteley, as the official team leaders and organisers, with some help from ringing parents, and of course, Sue Silver, who was there with us throughout the whole experience. Martin, Maggie and Sue used the practice to put together their team, with ‘travelling reserves’. The team was then contacted and another date was set for all the travelling ringers, as a last practice for the final team, to confirm where people would be ringing, and who would be in reserve. This was another successful practice, held on the slightly heavier ring at Biggleswade. The decision on placement and the choice of reserve was a heart wrenching decision for the team of experienced ringers who would be with us in Birmingham, comprising Maggie Whiteley, Sue Silver and Linda Garton, to whom we are all very grateful. Once the decision had been made and the news broken, all their efforts fell into place in preparation for the 30th June.

mini-ring outside St Paul's

The day dawned grey and misty as teams travelled up to Birmingham, but the sun shone as the ringing began, and continued to do so, with only short intervals of rain, throughout the day. Consistently through the day, the bells of St Paul’s rang out, with ringers from every corner of the country ringing for their association, to please the judges, whilst trickles of timed ringing burst out from the city with St Martin’s, St Philip’s and St Chad’s being open for general ringing, enabling many first time experiences to be accomplished. The bells around and in St Paul’s were a superb mixture of tower ringing for all of the 15 entered teams, fun activities for all on the hand bells and novel experiences on the Charmborough Ring. Amid all the hustle and bustle of the ringing, refreshments were served, much to everyone’s enjoyment, from the gallery of St Paul’s, providing a perfect look out onto the church in its splendour and the handbell ringers. As the adventures drew to a close in Birmingham, ringers gathered in St Martin’s, and received the feedback from the four judges. Their feedback was complimentary and constructive, and many of the participants were relieved to hear that they too get nervous when ringing in striking competitions. It was a very happy and encouraging gathering, as medals were handed out to each team member, along with the Whitechapel Trophy to the magnificent winning team. There were many smiles and happy memories as people made their way home, along with some very tired looking faces, of both young ringers, and those ringers who are still ‘young at heart’.

The day was very successful and full of memorable experiences. Many people did things for the first time, from ringing on a mini ring, to ringing handbells, to ringing in a striking competition, to ringing on twelve and even ringing on sixteen! It was a thoroughly enjoyable day for everyone, both young and old, both those experienced and new to the art.

Thanks go to the all organisers, both in and out of Birmingham, and to The Ringing World, but more especially to the local helpers of each team, without whom, the day would have been unable to go ahead. Thank you all.

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers