We knew going to Singapore to teach ringing would be no holiday, but 11 days of hard work. Our brief was to introduce bell-ringing to Singapore Cathedral, with its fine new 25cwt ring of 12, training members of the Cathedral community to handle a bell using the Learning the Ropes scheme. Starting on 7 August, our two principal objectives were to get them to handle a bell before our final practice on 17 August, and to involve them in the dedication service ringing on Sunday 11 August. Nothing too stretching then! There were up to three training sessions each day, usually of about two hours’ duration, taking place in temperatures of 35°C with 80% humidity. We had multiple fans and two very large open windows but (as yet) no air conditioning! The heat was absolutely draining but the trainees took it in their stride.
Training was almost always on tied bells, using the front eight, and there is also a dumb bell. We taught nine people, but others will follow. Most were professional people aged between 35 to early 60’s and they were incredibly well motivated to succeed. Each prospective ringer had applied to join the group and had been interviewed!
The intensive schedule within the LtR framework gave real momentum to the process and we could sign off new skills as they were acquired. There was always lots to celebrate! At the Dedication, the initial group were able to ring backstrokes in rounds assisted by some of the tutors. During our final training session on Saturday 17 August we presented certificates to all nine of the group. They had worked incredibly hard to achieve Level One – Bell Handling. Ringing for the Dedication of your bells and receiving your certificate of merit along with your peers – it doesn’t get much better than that!
Thanks must go to a number of experienced teachers who came for the Dedication and assisted us along the way, giving up much of their time to help, often on an unscheduled basis. The tower’s training need is acute and outside support will be necessary for many months, if not years. The cathedral authorities understand that need, and plans are already in place for other experienced tutors to go out at intervals over the coming months to help establish the local band. Already we’ve seen videos showing the progress made under subsequent tutors Alan and Marj Winter. A Singapore Cathedral band can now ring Rounds! We found this an immensely rewarding experience and hope to go back soon!
[Although this article was published in the October 2019 edition of Tower Talk, a version of this article was also published in the Ringing World on 13 September 2019.]
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