Discover church bell ringing at open day

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People who are interested in finding out more about church bell ringing are invited to an open day at St Mary’s Church, Ely on Saturday, June 29.

From 11am to 3pm, members from the Ely district of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers, representing 36 church bell towers across East Cambridgeshire, will be inviting people to come and take a look at one of Britain’s oldest traditional team activities, with the aim of signing up new ringers.

The open day will be announced around the city by Ely Town Crier Avril Hayter.

Outside St Mary’s Church, visitors will then be able to see and hear how experienced ringers perform on the Vestey ‘mini-ring’, a scaled-down mobile outdoor 6-bell belfry. They will also be able to try their hand at ringing themselves on the Association’s mobile demonstration bell tower with help from an expert tutor.

Inside St Mary’s, those who want to find out more can visit the ringing chamber where ringers will literally show them the ropes and help them to ring a bell under one-to-one supervision. Other members of the Ely Diocesan Association team will be on hand to answer questions and provide contact information for visitors’ nearest ‘teaching’ towers.

At the other end of the scale, there will be demonstrations of change-ringing on handbells in the church. Historically provided for the purpose of teaching the ringing of church tower bells, handbells offer a lighter but no less mentally-satisfying alternative. Visitors will be most welcome to try handbells for themselves.

Education Officer Philip Bailey is keen to make the most of the open day and said: “It’s not often we get the chance to show people what bell-ringing is really all about so we are delighted to have this opportunity to reach out to so many at one event.

“People will be able to see and hear what we do without even going into the church but I am sure that many will also want to come in and ‘have a go’. Many of our existing ringers and learners were introduced to the art at events like this so I am confident we will discover lots of new talent on the day.”