I’m a student at the Birmingham School of Bell Ringing – BSoBR for short. Recently a fantastic Away Day was organised to Warwick, and with the sun shining, I set off, feeling much like one of my favourite Enid Blyton characters starting an adventure. I just hoped that Warwick was ready for us!
Our first destination was the very picturesque church at Butler’s Marston – a ground floor ring of 6 (much appreciated!) Here under the tutelage of Steve Horton, ably supported by Eileen and Mike Keeble, Sue and John Rogers and James Horton, we navigated Rounds and Called Changes. Our session even allowed us the pride of being able to show off our skills to George, a visiting 8 year old who, along with his father, stood mesmerised in a corner of the ringing chamber listening and watching as we rang for a short burst. Oh, how I love bell ringing– especially when there are doughnuts involved (courtesy of the Butler’s Marston church members).
Next up wasn’t a church, but a pub for lunch– The New Bowling Green in Warwick. Here we met up with the other groups and helpers from the School, almost completely monopolising the place. Over a bacon bap,chunky chips and a shandy, I had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, all in the spirit of bellringing
After lunch we made our way to Warwick, St Nicholas with eager anticipation. Once there, in an overflowing ringing chamber, every one of us –from almost complete beginner to those preparing for their first Quarter Peal and beyond – was able to experience the thrill of ringing at the tower thanks to Simon Linford, Clare McArdle, Phil Ramsbottom and Andy Hardy. All nerves forgotten, I glowed with pride as I rang, buoyed up with the positive, supportive atmosphere.Everyone had a huge smile on their face as we all eagerly signed our names in the Tower Visitors’ Book.
Our last visit of the day was the one that had filled me with trepidation all week – Warwick, St Mary. Here the ringing chamber was much higher up due to the tower being on stilts – and apparently it moves! Despite my protests that I would never make it, I was strong-armed up, firmly sandwiched between ringing buddies Alex and Annette, and was able to experience ringing in my largest ringing room yet. In this impressive setting, we shared the successes of our fellow ringers who were presented with achievement certificates –several LtR Level 1s and a very impressive Level 5.Thanks to Jane and her rendition of “You Can Ring My Bell” in front of me, I made it back to terra-firma and it was time to leave Warwick.As I drove home I reflected on how far I had come since taking up bell ringing last September.I never cease to be amazed by the support, patience, kindness and camaraderie that has been shown to me by all concerned in this magical art.Who’d have thought it – I am loving becoming a bell ringer and seriously can’t wait for the next Away Day!