Platinum Jubilee Success

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II platinum jubilee has been a success nationwide and no less in the Bluebell benefice where the Gransden ringers have taken an active part. We rang the bells on each of the days from 2nd to 5th June with a different ringing activity on each day.

On Thursday 5th we opened the village celebrations by ringing “60 on Thirds”. This is a set piece of call changes from Devon and was ably conducted by Sheila George, our tower captain. After this we welcomed some visitors from other towers and continued with open ringing for a further hour with a short break for refreshments.

Call Change Team: 1. Georgia Yarrow, 2. Julia Smith, 3. Christine Morton, 4. Sheila Prest, 5. Phillip George, 6. Sheila George (c)

There were four visiting ringers, Sue Marsden (Peterborough St.John), Becca Glazier (Thriplow), Diane Thomas (Catworth) and Ella Yarrow, Georgia’s sister visiting from Australia.

On Friday 3rd we held our Tintinnabulation event. This was an open invitation to all parishioners in the benefice to come along and chime the bells. It was open to young and old and we welcomed 66 visitors. This included a photographer from the Cambridge News and we were featured in the newspaper that evening. We also received wider advertising from an inteview with Radio Cambridgeshire the previous Monday when Phillip explained what we had planned.

As well as tower bells we set up our handbells so that people waiting to go into the ringing room could be supervised in playing simple tunes, namely Twinkle Twinkle and the national anthem. Smaller toy bells were provided for the youngsters.

Refreshments were served by some of our local ringers who also acted as meeter greeters and crowd controllers! They did an excellent job and everyone had a brilliant time.

Helpers on the day: Tricia Williams, Julia Smith, Mirjam Van Sluis, Sheila George, Phillip George, Sue Taylor.

Saturday 4th was reasonably straight forward. We had planned a quarter peal in the afternoon to officially mark the platinum jubilee. But this was a red-letter quarter peal too for Hazel Pettit, Sheila George and David Prest. By ringing this quarter Hazel achieved her level 3 in the Learning the Ropes scheme, David rang his 50th quarter peal and Sheila her 900th, of which 700 have been of tower bells and 200 on handbells. Well done everyone!

Ringers were: 1. Hazel Pettit, 2. Catherina Griffiths, 3. David Prest. 4, Naomi Laredo, 5. Phillip George (c), 6. Sheila George. The method was Plain Bob Doubles and it was rung in 44 minutes.

Our thanks to Catherina and Naomi for ringing with us on this special occasion.

Back: David, Phillip. Front: Hazel, Catherina, Sheila, Naomi

Sunday, the last day in our ringing jamboree. It started with service ringing at 10.15am. This was general ringing for the service of Pentecost and Jubilee Thanksgiving. At the end of the day we rang our showcase piece, 70 call changes rung between 19:52 and 20:22 representing the years Her Majesty has been on the throne.

Timing was critical, to start exactly on 19:52 and “stand” exactly on 20:22. In between, the call changes had to be made at regular intervals and to do this they were called every 5th whole pull. This allowed some rounds at the beginig to settle the ringing and a few minutes at the end.

One of the highlights of our ringing over the four days was at the end of this ringing when a spontaneous cheer by all the ringers rang out as everyone stood first time, and we shared hugs and high fives in celebration. The bells were left “up” for effect – no ringing after 20:22, to be rung down the next morning.

We learned afterwards that several people had come to the church to listen, one gentleman not believing that the bells were rung by people, until he had looked in the church!

Ringers were: 1. Sheila George, 2. Sue Taylor, 3. Tricia Williams, 4. Sheila Prest, 5. David Prest, 6. Phillip George (c)

Back: Phillip, David. Front: Tricia, Sue, Sheila P, Sheila G, proudly displaying jubilee medals.

In the planning of our ringing we included all our ringers in at least one event and most were involved with two or more. All our ringing has been published on BellBoard.

Mirjam, our newest recruit also rang with us in the open ringing on the first day and and helped with the Tintinnabulation event. We clocked up a total of twelve hours in the tower. The team worked superbly together helping our visitors and enthusiastically promoting ringing. All our ringing was a high standard and very enjoyable.

We had advertised our ringing schedule widely in the Bluebell Benefice and the support was in thanks to this. The jubilee event organising committee generously gave all our ringers a jubilee medalion as a token of their aoppreciation of our contribution to the weekend. We thank them for this gesture.

With jubilee mugs, medals and chocolate we have ended the weekend tired but thrilled to have taken such an active part.

Platinum Jubilee Plans and Preparations

We have a very busy week leading up to and including the Platinum Jubilee weekend. We will be ringing on each of the four days and all our ringers plus guests will be taking part. All our ringing will be dedicated to mark the jubilee celebrations and will be recorded with photographs on this website and on social media.

Wednesday 1st – Carry out final check of the bells (although this is done weekly). We’ll be decorating the ringing room with bunting and flags and making sure we are ready to welcome our visitors over the weekend. We’ll ring the bells up ready for Thursday ringing.

Thursday 2nd – 10.00am the bells will ring out to call changes, rung by some of the local team. This is a “performance piece” and will be recorded on the national database “BellBoard”. At 10.30am we will will host open ringing for anyone in the area to enjoy. In the evening we will hold our usual practice from 7.30pm. We will then ring the bells down ready for Friday.

Friday 3rd – 10.00am the tower will be open to all visitors to chime the bells. This will be a unique opportunity for non-ringers to chime a bell by gently pulling the ropes, and hearing what it sounds like from the ringing room. Local ringers will be on hand to guide and help. Photogarphs will be taken of the event as part of the Bluebell Community jubilee records.

Afterwads, the bells will be rung up in readiness for Saturday.

Saturday 4th – 2.00pm – A quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles will be rung by local and invited ringers. This is a performance piece too. The bells will be left up ready for Sunday.

Sunday 5th – 10.15am we will be ringing for the special jubilee service at 11.00am. In the evening at eight minutes to eight until twenty two minutes past eight (19:52 to 20:22) the local team will ring 70 call changes especially composed for the occasion. This ringing will close the village celebrations. This is also a performance piece. The bells will be left up.

Monday morning 6th – the bells will be rung down and the jubilee decorations removed from the ringing room.

Ringers’ Annual General Meeting 2022

Maundy Thursday is the tradition date for holding our AGM. There is no open ringing during Holy Week and although the date varies year on year we find it a convenient time to meet socially as well as to transact our business. After Covid, for the first time in two years we were able to meet in person and, as usual, Nutbells was the venue.

Light refreshments are ready for the ringers at Nutbells

We welcomed our new ringer, Mirjam (Miriam), and Georgia introduced us to her new baby, Finley. Apologies were recieved from Julia, Christine and Alasdair.

The statutory agenda items were quite quickly dealt with. Minutes, reports and accounts having been circulated beforehand to save time and we only had to approve them at the meeting. David’s (Deputy T/C) report, summarising our activities during 2021, can be found here.

Sheila G (T/C) commented how much everyone’s support if valued, for without it there would be no ringing. The ringers enjoy their time in the tower and were very happy to re-elect Sheila as T/C, David as Deputy T/C and Phillip as Secretary/Treasurer. It is worthy of note that this is the 50th year Sheila has held this office and we congratulate her on this length of service and her accomplished leadership during that time.

The main discussion was about our ringing plans for the year. A wide variety of ideas had been put forward. One of the main events is our four-day ringing jamboree for HM Queen’s platinum jubilee from the 2nd to the 5th June, when the bells will be rung on each day. Details will be advertised locally. Other plans are to visit St.Neots (10) and Peterborough Cathedral (12) and hopefully, in the autumn to visit the Mancroft Ringinging and Discovery Centre in Norwich.

We will investigate inviting Scouts, Brownies and year six pupils to visit the tower as part of our PR work. And continuing in the PR theme, we hope to hold an interactive coffee morning in the autumn to raise money for our bell fund.

In November the Huntingdon District ringers will hold their meeting at Gt Gransden and we will host a training module (basic conducting) in October for the Association training day.

Plans are all well and good, but the proof will be in them coming to fruition. Needless to say, they will be reported here in due course.

L-R: Sheila P, Georgia, Tricia, Mirjam, David, Phillip, Sheila G, Hazel, Sue

Ringers Visit the REC and Silent Practice Means Exactly that! And a New Recruit Tries her Hand at Ringing.

A sunny spring afternoon and seven Great Gransden ringers visited Stretham (Cambs) to ring at the Recruitment and Education Centre, or REC for short.

Kindly hosted by the REC management team we spent two hours practising our Plain Hunt, Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles, in a dedicated session aided by volunteer ringers from other towers to support our endeavours. The half time tea break included some special cake! which refreshed us for the next ringing session.

It was really nice to have the opportunity to ring on different bells, lighter than ours, and to appreciate the different handling qualities. Our thanks to Dee Smith, the REC manager, and Lousie Dobson, the REC administrator for making the ringing arrangements and to the several ringing helpers who assisted our “improvers” and added stability to the ringing, making our afternoon most enjoyable and successful.

Silent Bells

Preparation for our visit to the REC has been the weekly tied bell/sim practices on a Wednesday when we silence the bells and use the simulated sound. The laptop PC which drives Abel and into which the sim is plugged, has failed. So the for the last two weeks we have had no sound at all and have had to “mime”. Nevertheless, we have still been able to practice dodging and general bell control.

A visit to the PC doctor confirmed that the laptop could not be repaired and plans were afoot to replace it with a “new” scond hand one. Then up steps Christine who has offered one of her old ones which she is getting rid of. It is hoped that after Easter she will be able to clean the machine and let us trial it to see if it will be fit for purpose. In the meantime we’ll borrow another one, and having purchased a serial port adapter we hope to be up and running in time for next Wednesday’s practice.

New Recruit

Although there are nine of us who regularly ring we always need new recruits. Not everyone can be there all the time so enough ringers are needed so that we can always ring all six bells,

The periodic email to Touchbase went out in early March and it was thought, as usual, that no-one would come forward. Then, out of the blue, Mirjam (Miriam) contacted me to say that she was very interested and could she find out more. She joined us for our practice on Thursday 17th March and, full of enthusiasm came back the following Wednesday for her first lesson in bell handling. Result!!

A Full Peal is Rung and the Clock is Repaired!

In good times i.e. pre pandemic, we usually ring about 8 quarter peals every year at Great Gransden. We have rung three so far this year and hope for many more in the coming months. But peals are a different matter. They take nearly three hours and require a different level of stamina and mental agility. The last rung here was in 2015 on 28th November. This was Phillip’s 350th peal and completed extents in methods in readiness for a peal, elsewhere, of 41 spliced Surprise minor.

It was no surprise to receive a request from Sue Marsden to ring a peal here, this year. She had previously indicated that she would like to ring one on the re-hung bells. Her only previous peal at Gransden was 9th October 1999, the last peal on the bells before re-hang. The pandemic had stopped all ringing and as we are now getting back to normal, Gransden was near the top of her list.

Sue, and her selected ringers, had intended to ring 41 spliced but decided to ring just seven methods (an extent of each), and this was successfully achieved in 2 hours 52 on Saturday 26th February. The last two minutes can be heard by following this link .

The village were advised of the ringing, as we do for most of our “extra” performances, and several people commented on how much they had enjoyed the sound drifting over the village.

The sun setting during the last half hour of the peal on 26th February

In late September 2021 the clock hour striking mechanism failed. This was due to a faulty sprocket which had become mis-aligned. The Cumbria Clock Co visited and concluded that a new sprocket needed to be manufactured, and that it would be January before the work could be completed.

January came, and nearly went, but there was no sign of the clockmaker. A communication apologised for the delay and said it would be March. And so, March it was! Two engineers turned up on Wednesday 2nd and set to work replacing the faulty part. Several hours later the work had been successfully completed. Clock hour strike and chimes are now back in full working order and at ringing practice on Thursday the bells were rung down in time for the nine-o-clock chimes. We are back to normal!

The new sprocket tightly secured to the hour strike drum

I musn’t forget to mention the special “half-time” sweets this week, courtesey of David and Sheila P, bringing them from their recent trip to Belgium. Very more-ish and impossible to eat only one! Here is a photograph of some displayed in a circle. Very appropriate for bell shaped chocolates!

A Date Touch, and Thinking Ahead!

During the excitment of our quarter peals at the beginning of February we already had plans to ring a date touch on 22nd February. This date was chosen because it has all the two’s 22 02 2022, and it would be appropriate to ring 2022 changes on that day.

And so, on Two’sday 22nd Feb the ringers met and we set off on our longer than usual length of ringing (1 hour 7 minutes). The ringing started with 582 changes of doubles (Plain Bob and Grandsire) which was followed by 1440 chages of Cambridge S Minor. We had some good ringing and as always, were happy to be successful in our endeavours. We dedicated the ringing to Naomi’s mum Hilary, who celebrated her 91st birthday on this day. It was also the 30th date touch on the bells, most of which have been on New Year’s Day.

L-R Naomi, Phillip, Catherina, Sheila, Mark and Rebecca

We received some lovely feedback from this ringing. Nancy said how lovely it was, and that when she had spoken to others around and about the village they said how nice the ringing sounded and how calming it was.

We are continually improving in our Call Changes, Plain Hunt and Plain Bob Doubles. Catherina comes along to our practes when she can and this is a great help. At practice this week we had an additional visitor – Christian Burrell, who is one of the Hunts District ringing masters. This gave us a spare person and Phillip was able to stand behind and guide our improvers more effectively.

Tied bell practices are focussing on Plain Hunt and calling Call Changes. We are scheduled to visit the Stretham REC (Recruitment and Training Centre) on Saturday 26th March. We have requested training on Plain Hunt and Plain Bob Doubles, so our preparation now will help us get the best out of the REC when we visit.

Also this week, Tricia asked Catherina if she could visit St.Neots to ring. The answer, of course, was yes! I think we should arrange some tower visits now that the Covid restrictions are off!

Phillip raids the sweet tin whilst the ladies have a ring!

Red Letter Weekend of Ringing!

We have just completed the third performance piece of ringing arranged from 5th to 7th February 2022, involving twelve different ringers.

On Saturday 5th we rang a quarter peal of Cambridge S Minor which was our (Sheila and Phillip George) 250th on the bells. We also rang our first quarter peal on the bells together, which was on 10th June 1972. We drafted in some family members and long-term ringing friends to complete the band for this auspicious event, and after an excellent ring-up in peal had some very nice ringing which took 50 minutes.

Back: Mark, Catherina and David. Front: Phillip, Sheila and Rebecca

Sunday 6th was the platinum anniversary of th H M Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne. There have been at least 796 performances across the UK and worldwide celebrating this magnificant achievement and Gransden Ringers were included. Six local ringers rang an especially composed touch of 70 call changes.

Back: David, Phillip. Front: Hazel, Sheila, Tricia and Sue

Our final piece of ringing was on Monday 7th. We had arranged this initially for Rebecca Glazier, ringer from Thriplow, to gain experience in trebling to doubles. Rebecca started to learn ringing in late 2019 but the pandemic put all “in person” learning on hold until in recent months. She has had several practices at Gransden and has rung tenor behind to a few quarter peals in her home tower.

The ringing today was Plain Bob doubles and Rebecca rang very well to a very enjoyable quarter peal.

The main footnote to this quarter peal was “In memoriam Dr. Francis Jackson CBE, (2 Oct 1917 – 10 Jan 2022), organist and composer, who served as Director of Music at York Minster for 36 years. Uncle in law of Catherina.”

Dr Jackson’s funeral was at York Minster last week and as he was much loved uncle in law to Catherina we dedicated this quarter peal to him.

L-R Sheila, Naomi,, Catherina, Becca, David, Phillip

Getting into the New Year

Our weekly practices are well supported and enhanced by daytime sim/tied bell sessions to help improve bell control, during which we practise dodges, calling changes and ringing up and down in peal. There is also a lot of theory and the whiteboard usually gets covered in lines and numbers! We also keep an eye on the Learning the Ropes progress books for everyone and I’m please to announce that Julia has passed her level 1. (certificate and presentation to follow).

The latest Covid guidelines by the Church of England have been issued, which come into line with government regulations about restrictions, which are now being eased. So called Plan B ceased on the 27th January and it is no longer mandatory to wear masks in public areas. Plan B made an exemption for bell ringing (and similar activities), which are classed as excercise, and/or that take place in non-public parts of a building.

The CofE and CCCBR continue to recommend caution when ringing in enclosed spaces and we are mindful that whilst we can ring with no legal restrictions, ventilation and hand sanitising still contributes to keeping us safe. Our risk assessment has been modified to reflect the latest guidelines.

We have several ringing events planned in the tower during February, some of which were postponed from Christmas, and these will be reported in due course. They include three quarter peals and a full peal!

Thinking further ahead, we have made enquiries about visiting the Stretham Recruitment and Education Centre (REC). We hope to attend ringing sessions with more experienced ringers who can help us with Plain Hunt, Plain Bob and Grandsire. This will probably take place over several sessions, all on a Saturday, and we expect to be visiting during March.

We have recently received some lovely comments about how much people enjoy hearing the bells on a Thursday evening. Let’s hope that our ringing continues to reach everyone and that we are able to interest some in joining our team. And, as ever, we are grateful for the encouraging support of Rev Rachel.

Here is a photograph of the ringers at our practice on Thursday 27th January 2022. Thanks to Catherina for visiting from St.Neots (and for checking the bell fund accounts while she was here!)

Ladies Band L-R: Sheila G, Sue, Hazel, Chris, Catherina(St.Neots), Tricia

2021 End of Year Summary

2021 has been a slightly more “normal” year than 2020, the latter being spent almost entirely in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic. Covid social distancing restrictions were eased on Monday 17th May 2021 but we were only allowed a maximum of six ringers in the tower and we had to sanitise our hands and wear face coverings. We also needed to make sure we had all doors and window opened to improve ventilation.

We returned to the tower immediately, starting with tied bell practices using the simulator, and making sure that everyone had an opportunity to ring over the following few weeks. This helped us get back into ringing. We recommenced open ringing in early June and by July there was no restriction on numbers which made our ringing much easier to organise.

Since June we have rung for 14 services and practiced on 23 occasions. The average attendance has been 7 ringers (including an occasional visitor) and it is pleasing to have this support.

We have also had 18 simulator practices which continue to be a valuable time for extra practice and theory. The sim has certainly come into its own in the last 2 years, enabling more bells to be rung and supporting our learning. A total of 19 quarter peals have been rung on it this year.

One quarter peal was rung on open bells, the first since March 2020, and we have rung four lots of 120 call changes, celebrating marriages and births.

We had plans for ringing over the Christmas period but decided at the last minute to postpone most of them because of the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid which is highly infectious and which, we felt, put us at higher risk. However, plans have already been made to carry out this ringing in the New Year.

We have ten resident ringers, but as with all towers not everyone can be there all of the time, so we need to continue to use social media and word of mouth to make our presence known so that we can increase our team and grow in experience.

A team photo taken in August was the only time we were mostly all present. It is included in a design for a jigsaw puzzle which represents our group in 2021, surely a landmark year, but we are looking forward to an even more successful 2022 with many exciting objectives to be achieved.

Ringers 26th August 2021. Photo taken during our practice
Jigsaw puzzle representing Gransden Bell Ringers

A Busy Ringing Week

It is Sunday 14th November 2021 and we have been ringing half muffled for the service of Remembrance this morning. We were able to ring all six to call changes. We also rang half muffled for practice on Thursday the 11th when nine ringers took part. The quarter peal attempt earlier in the day was unsuccessful but we rang for over half an hour which itself was good practice. Many thanks to Becca Glazier of Thriplow for coming over to ring at the last minute due to illness of one of the band.

Here is a clip of the ringing during our practice session.

The muffles had to come off on Friday when we rang in celebration of the forthcoming marriage of Michael Prest and Adrienne Brayman. Michael is a former ringer at the tower and he, together with brother Martin and parents Sheila and David made up two thirds of the band with Sheila and Phillip George completing it. We rang 120 call changes which took 24 minutes with very good ringing throughout. Details can be found here.

Ringig for Michael and Adrienne’s wedding. L-R Sheila G, Phillip, Michael, Martin, Sheila P, David

On Wednesday we held the usual weekly tied bell/sim practice. We are currently working on bell control and practising dodging to help with this. There is always a lot of theory at these sessions and the white boards come into their own when it comes to explaining up’s & down’s and in’s & out’s.