Ringing up and down course 2015

Here is Sally’s report on the branch ringing up and down course for 2015:

“A Ringing Up and Down Course was held at Bicester on 11th July led by Anthony Cole.

It was superbly organised with a low number of learners ringing and plenty of experienced ringers between us to practically keep us in check.

A very well worth while afternoon for all us learners and a leap in my progress. Thank you everone.

Sally Wale”

Recruitment? (2015)

The Guild master has been in discussion with Branch reps and Secretaries at the Spring General Committee meeting regarding recruitment and retention. Each branch was asked to submit their thoughts – see Anne’s Recruitment thoughts report on behalf of the Bicester Branch – download it below.

This does bring up a big issue really – more and more towers (countrywide, not just locally) are finding it hard to continue ringing and more towers are falling silent due to lack of ringers. Kathryn has sent these thoughts around by email:

It was great to have two new members at our Branch AGM – and youthful ones at that!  Most of our towers could do with more ringers – and although it’s sometimes a thankless job recruiting/ teaching/ retaining/ encouraging new ones, without recruits we may, within the next 10-20 years, have a number of ‘silent’ towers. Anne Martin (Launton) and I were at a meeting where this topic was discussed throughout the Oxford Guild and some of the ideas/ difficulties are highlighted in Anne’s report on the Branch website.  Do see what you can do individually to encourage newcomers to our quaint but lovely English tradition!

I echo these concerns – the Bicester branch membership is dropping and whilst some is due to people moving away, some is simply because our members are getting older and less able to ring and newer (younger) recruits are not coming forward. Equally I wonder if many towers in our branch have ringers confident or capable of teaching new recruits. If you are from a tower that has possible recruits but hasn’t a competent/capable/willing teachers then please contact Anthony or any of the branch officers and we will help where possible. Equally, if a course on teaching bell handling would be useful then get in touch and we can organise something. Having taught a new band at Caversfield over the last year or so and watching them improve I can vouch for it being a rewarding opportunity to teach new (and younger) recruits and we are now fairly good at plain hunt and are starting to work on plain courses of Grandsire Doubles (with a little extra help from Launton) which after just over one year is very pleasing – we also came second in the branch striking competition last year!

World Tour #1

The Bicester branch are going large and touring the world.. well.. one of our members is anyway, and ringing where there are bells.

Ian’s most recent trip has led him to Calgary, Canada from where he writes:

I went ringing Xmas eve after work and again yesterday, Christmas morning. The Calgary ringers are really friendly and I was made to feel very welcome. They had had a busy day Christmas eve, with 3 services to ring for but I was only able to make it for the last one at 9.45 pm. There were 7 of us in the end and we rang some touches of plain bob minor and doubles and a touch of grandsire doubles too. I was able to ring inside for plain bobs and rang the tenor behind for grandsire. Call changes are called the other way round here and I managed to get completely lost!
Christmas morning saw us ring all 8 of the Calgary bells, with some very nicely struck rounds and call changes – I managed to grab the tenor so as not to mess things up! We also had a couple of good attempts at touches of plain bob doubles and successfully rang plain course of plain bob minor.
Hoping to ring again on Sunday weather permitting, ringing only gets cancelled when it drops below -20!

Christ Church in Calgary has a ring of 8 bells (8-2-0 in Bb).

Keep an eye open for the next instalment of Ian’s World Tour..

Ian and the Calgary Ringers

Ringing Up & Down course report

On Saturday 26th July, Jean, Ann and I attended a course led by Anthony Cole (ably assisted by Jeremy from Stratton Audley and Mike from Launton tower). We were given four hours of 1-1 constructive feedback, many helpful tips and much practice at both Bicester and Caversfield towers and enjoyed a good lunch at the Bure. We are all much wiser and know what we should be doing- however, practice makes perfect. We would like to thank all three, especially Anthony for his careful preparation and attention on the day.

Hilary Walbank

Branch Secretary’s Report for AGM

Here is Kathryn’s report which was lost at the AGM:

Bicester Branch

Bicester Branch’s AGM was held on 23 February at Ludgershall – held with some speed due to the cold and lack of change of Branch officers or business.

The happy event of the year was the augmentation to six at St Mary the Virgin, Weston-on-the-Green and the return of all the bells to a ringable state by the end of the year.  The re-dedication of the bells was held on 5 May and congratulations are due to Tower Captain, Bob Hessian, who managed the project, and to Taylors who completed the work.

Our outing on 23 March had to be cancelled due to snow but was rearranged for the autumn when we went to the Newbury area – ringing by only a handful of members at Brightwalton, Chieveley, Speen and Thatcham – but enjoyed very much by those who came.

Sadly, in June, our former President, Cliff East, died after a long and happy life – he held most positions in the Branch over the years: as secretary, branch representative, ringing master, Vice President and President, as well as Tower Captain in Ludgershall.  He will be missed by all who knew, and rang, with him.

In September we held our Branch striking competition and barbecue with three teams competing for the Cliff East shield – won narrowly by the home team, Islip – a veil is best drawn over the Branch’s subsequent appearance at the Guild striking competition.

Two noteworthy quarters have been recorded this year – the first to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ringing on 16 April of our joint ringing master and webmaster, Anthony Cole, and the second on 13 December to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Bicester Branch (both at St Edburg’s, Bicester).  Elsewhere ringing throughout the Branch during the year has been steady – for weddings with further quarters and peals for wedding anniversaries notably at Brill, service ringing and the encouraging news of some Branch ringers (Anne Martin, Ali McConnell and Hilary Wallbank) taking part as students at the Steeple Aston course.

Kathryn Grant


October 2013 outing report

Saturday 19th October was the day of the rescheduled branch outing (following cancellation of the outing in March due to snow).

The first tower of the day was Brightwalton, Berkshire – a fairly light 6. Only 4 ringers had arrived by the start time so we rang up the back 4 and hoped we would have more ringers joining us later. We started plain hunt on 4 and then Kathryn, Anthony B and Sally arrived to boost our number. We rang up the treble and two and then proceeded to ring some plain courses of Grandsire Doubles and call changes before our time was up.

Moving on to the next tower on some very countrified roads we arrived at Chieveley with my car sporting a punctured rear tyre…nice L shaped hole. Well that is what a spare is for though space saving ones aren’t that good really! After a rather continental style ring up of the back six we rang call changes and plain courses of Grandsire Doubles again. We then rang down and proceeded to the Hare And Hounds Hotel in Speen for lunch. I was supposed to have collected menu choices and phoned our order through, but the tyre fiasco had blocked it from my mind. Luckily with only 10 people to feed (seven ringers, one non-ringing husband, and two children) the food order didn’t take too long.

We next rang at the church in Speen – another six. We rang call changes and plain courses of Grandsire Doubles again.

Our final tower was the other side of Newbury – the ten of Thatcham (though we only rang the front six). These bells were the nicest bells of the day and we rang call changes and plain courses of Grandsire Doubles again. Before the end I had to leave to get my tyre fixed before the trip back to Bicester – a bit of googling had located a Kwik Fit in Newbury!

My thanks to Hilary, Anne, Kathryn, Sally, John and Anthony B for joining “Bicester Branch on tour”, for the villages for the use of their bells (and patience with our ringing up and down) and for the non-ringers (John, Samuel & Grace) who came to enjoy the day out and the pub lunch. Hopefully we can encourage more ringers to join us on future outings.

The next branch event is in just two days.. A special practice at Bicester on Monday night. Hopefully we will get enough ringers to ring Plain Bob Minor (and very unlikely Oxford TB Minor).

Bicester Branch Outing 2011 report

Eleven bellringers joined in the Bicester Branch Spring outing arranged by Anthony Cole.  We were disappointed that Samuel and Grace Cole weren’t also part of the party as they tend to write the more entertaining reports of our outings but glad that their absence meant that Sarah Cole was able to do more ringing than on recent occasions!

However the first ring at all Saints, Middleton Cheney nearly caused all those present to call it a day immediately – the heavy bells and rather springy ropes challenged most of us but, undaunted, we then rang the lighter bells at Chacombe before relaxing over lunch at the George & Dragon – a great find!

At the enjoyable ground floor ring of Cropredy we discovered that our audience had contained Prunella Scales and Timothy West – an inversion of the more normal status quo!  Those in the non-ringing party (including the three canine members) were able to enjoy the sun and a local bookfair before we left for Mollington and a, thankfully, light six.

It was especially good to have our Branch President, the redoubtable Willie Haynes, with us following a bout of ill health. Thank you from all of us, Anthony, for giving everyone a great day – and to those who opened their towers for us.

Kathryn Grant