Report (March 2012)
In 2010 the North Bucks Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild identified that ringing in our area was in a poor state and without some significant recruitment would decline further. This initiated the Big Ring Pull project aimed at improving the teaching skills of the ringers and also recruitment.
In October 2011 Graham Nabb from the Ringing Foundation ran a day’s course at Downs Barn in Milton Keynes for 21 experienced and new teachers. This gave us useful skills and bought us up to date with current thinking on teaching practices. Two weeks later we put this into practice by us all coming together with John Harrison from the ODG teaching 6 new ringers from scratch over the course of a day.
On February 11th we held our recruitment event in Middleton Hall in the middle of Milton Keynes Shopping centre. We hired the Charmborough ring and demonstrated ringing to passers by along with a large number of t-shirted ringers engaging with the public and explaining about ringing and the intensive training course we were offering. We captured interest from 84 people. Those outside the branch have been put in contact with their local societies. Those who were local were encouraged to come to a tower open day where they could experience having a go on tower bells, watch a video on ringing and learn more about the intensive Learn to Ring course.
Our Learn to Ring course ran for every day for two weeks in early March. We had 43 new ringers on the course. The course consisted of practical bell handling along with non practical sessions ie. rope tying, terminology, bell history, ringing and the church, the social side of ringing and more. Most of the teachers undertaking the practical teaching sessions had attended the teaching course in the previous October, and some of them have progressed towards getting ITTS accredited.
The result of the course is that 39 new ringers have been sprinkled around the branch and are now attending practices at their local towers. We have also been able to start new regular practices at two towers which previously were not rung regularly.
The project has taken a lot of hard work but now we have the results it has all been worth while. We are now ensuring that the new ringers continue to progress and continue to develop as a group.