Ringing World National Youth Contest 2013 at St Lawrence’s Church, York – 6th July

by George Vant, Essex Young Eagles

In the morning at approximately 9am, all the teams including us (Essex Young Eagles) went to St Helen’s, Stonegate. This church is very historical as a place of worship has stood on this site for over a thousand years. Inside we checked in at the information desk and received our wrist bands which most people thought were cool! We also got given booklets with all the events and times when the teams were up for their piece (we were 4th). During this, further into the church was a Mini Ring, The eight bells were originally installed in The Black Bull Inn at Frosterley, Durham but they were replaced with a new ring of 12 in 2011. They were the ring of bells used for the first ever peal rung by rope and wheel in a public house on 14th December 2005. Not many of the Essex Eagles were keen to ring on it but I really wanted to have a go. Then we set off for St Lawrence’s Church and walked through the main part of town; I noticed lots of towers along the way which happened to have a ring of 3 bells but unfortunately were unringable. During the walk we passed through one of the main gates into the city, which was surrounded by the ancient stone walls surrounding the city. It was a amazing sight to see!


When we arrived in the churchyard we noticed that there was a small bell tower standing on its own! I read the notice stuck on the tower saying this was the last remaining part of the previous medieval church. Unfortunately it did not have any bells! The main tower holding the light peal of 8 was very tall and magnificent. The sound of the bells gave the impression that they were much bigger than they were. Before our turn to ring we had our team photos taken. After that we went up the narrow staircase into the ringing chamber. It was rather warm up there but had enough space to fit us and still have some breathing space. We also noticed a small bell in the the chamber which dated back to 1400. We started off with some rounds and a few call changes so people could get used to the bells. I rang on bell 6 which, after a few rounds, I noticed was odd struck. I was eventually able to ring closer at handstroke to counter the odd struckness. After a few sage comments from our conductor, who rang the 7th, we went straight into our piece. We started off with some nice rounds and rang at a fairly quick pace, which seemed to be good for the bells; then we went into the first set of call changes. Half way through some people missed a call and clashed with other bells, which we knew would result in the deduction a lot of points. After a few more errors we got it back and carried on – towards the end we maintained a good pace and ringing standard. After we finished we all heaved a big sigh of relief as it was over! And we could now enjoy the rest of our day. Our ringing supporter and manager was very pleased with our performance and I will mention our results later.

Shopping or grabbing? – no contest!

After that my team and friends all walk off and went shopping, I had no intention of shopping as I wanted to get some tower grabs. Myself, manager and 3 supporters went off to have a nice drink before going to the first open tower. The first tower we went to was St Martin-le-Grand, which had a nice peal of 8. From the outside the bells sounded amazing as they were well tuned and were rung by the York band. When we walked in they started the focused method session for Yorkshire Surprise Major. Unfortunately I don’t ring any Surprise methods yet, and to add the pressure I barely ring on 8 bells because my home tower, Layer-de-la-Haye, has a ring of 6 and is surrounded by a lot of other 6 bell towers. There are a couple of 8 and 10-bell rings but, due to lack of ringers, they usually only ring on 6 there too. During these focus groups barely any young ringers could actually ring the methods and I found it daft that 8 teams rang call changes and only 4 rang Bob or Grandsire Triples. But luckily the person running the session allowed us to ring some Bob Triples so I could get a grab! I rang very reasonably but again not as confidently as I would on 6. Then they started more Yorkshire and at that point I left …

On the way to lunch we quickly stopped by St Helen’s, Stonegate again so I could ring on the mini ring. I had a go at 2 bells without much success but after ringing the 6th of the mini ring to call changes it became easy to master. Then we rang Bob Minor on the back 6 and I rang the tenor! Unfortunately there were two inexperienced ringers on the 2 and 3 and I had to try hard to keep a steady pace. Then after we went to a nice pub for some lunch as the food provided didn’t look so appetising.

We then went onto All Saints Church and again they were in a focused session which happened to be Bristol Surprise Major which I had no idea how to ring. Again barely any young ringers ringing it so I began to wonder what was the point of it! Luckily the Tower Captain asked what I wanted to do and I rang some Bob Triples and eventually Bob Major. After that we moved on.

The last tower I rang that day was St Wilfrid’s Church with a reasonable 10. Luckly we had just got there before the “focus” which was Yorkshire and Bristol Royal. The person in charge seemed very strict as he said we had to quickly ring before the methods started. I did 2 sets of call changes on the 9 and then had a good go at Plain Hunt on 9! Then after that I went back to St Helen’s and had a go at Change Rining on Handbells which was great fun! I rang 5-6 to Plain Hunt Minor which was good fun! Then finally after a good look at the Minster we went into St Michae-le-Belfrey to get the results!

The results

It turned out we came joint 4th which we were very pleased about. The judge said that the beginning and end changes were the best they heard all day but unfortunately the piece was let down by some change errors. He even said the pace was good and we had great potential.

To summarise I got four tower grabs, rang on a mini ring and did some method ringing on handbells, so I had a really great day! The temperature even got up to 30°C which was excellent – to me it was more like a holiday than a competition!

Here is the full results list:

Call Changes category:
1st Team 16: Bedfordshire A (80%)
2nd Team 7: Derbyshire Dingers A (78%)
3rd Team 2: Sussex Young Ringers B+
4th = Team 4: Essex Young Eagles B

Team 10: Worcester Young Ringers B
Team 12: Lincolnshire Poachers B
5th = Team 6: The Blue Lines B-
Team 14: Bath & Wells B-
6th Team 1: Lichfield & Walsall C
7th = Team 3: St Martin's Youths C-

Team 5: Les Beaux Belles
of South Lincolnshire
8th Team 8: Vectis Youths D
Method category:
1st Team 9: The G. & B. A-
2nd Team 11: Oxford D.G. B
3rd = Team 13: Suffolk Young Ringers C
Team 15: Yorkshire Puds C


After another night in the Hotel and a Sunday morning ring at the Minster we had a 3½-hour journey back to Essex. This was my first and unfortunately last (due to my age) opportunity for competing in this great competition. However hopefully next year I will still be able to come and support the Essex Young Eagles at Worcester!

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