You may well feel that as a novice ringer it’s not your place to ‘interfere’ with the running of your home tower, but we should all think about the many different jobs which need to be done to keep things moving smoothly and happily. The Tower Captain may seem supremely confident and on top of everything, but that may not be the case and what they’re waiting for is someone to say “I can do that”!
There is no ‘right’ way to run a tower, and there is no ‘right’ number of job positions. What can happen,though, is that every single job that needs to be done falls on the shoulders of just one person, and it really does make sense to distribute the work amongst others (if volunteers can be found!) to spread the load and to provide backup when people aren’t available.Some jobs are band oriented, some are tower oriented. Even if you don’t have meetings you still need someone to who is the point of contact for the church, for visitors, for the local association – and it doesn’t need to be the Tower Captain. With e-mail and all the different ways we have of communicating this could be an easy job for a well organised person, someone to take charge of the tower diary and handle e-mails.
Bell installations need to be inspected from time to time. Bell chambers need cleaning and checking for bird ingress. Some installations need oiling regularly. Again – could you help with this job? A Steeple Keeper is often appointed to be responsible for those things. You might add maintenance of the ringing room and health and safety liaison with the church to their job description, too. You might even share the steeple-keeping with other towers nearby, because not everyone is keen on clambering over bells clutching spanners, or has learned the skills needed to maintain an installation in tip-top form! Now we come to money. Here again, different towers do things differently. You could very easily appoint a Treasurer to look after the money and to produce accounts for the tower’s Annual General Meeting (if you have one) and for reconciliation with the church when it comes to funding for bell maintenance.There’s a whole article waiting to be written on the different ways things might be run but, for now, think about what you do with money from special occasion ringing (weddings and such-like), any fees you charge visiting bands, and whether or not you collect a tower subscription on practice night. These things all need keeping track of, and may not all go into the same ‘pot’. Does it go towards bell maintenance, or does it go towards social activities?
How is the social side of ringing in your tower? Who organises outings? What about going to the pub after practice? Do you need a Social Secretary to encourage the members of your band, or to maintain interaction between all the bands in your benefice? Ringing is fun, but it’s not all about having your head in a book – human beings need to interact with each other, too. And what about recruitment? Do you advertise for new ringers, or send articles to the local press? Again,this might be separated out from other roles within your group. An enthusiastic new ringer can often do more to gain new recruits than a jaded ringer of 40 year’s service. So talk about this with the Tower Captain and your band – try to become familiar with all the jobs that need doing to keep the bells ringing and your band working well, and think about your own skills and what you have got to offer. Don’t put all the work onto the shoulders of just one or two people; share it out. And think about all the little things – there’s a good chance that you can suggest a role that you could take on to improve things without upsetting any of the existing officers of your organisation.
And good luck!
This article by Mike Rigby (Tower Captain at Lighthorne) first appeared in the October edition of Tower Talk magazine, the free quarterly e-magazine for new ringers. If you enjoyed reading this and would like to download the rest of the edition, please click here