Donhead St Mary Bell-Ringers - February 2018 Report

Some of you may have read in the paper, seen on the telly or heard on the radio about the plans for the Nation's bells to ring out together to mark the Armistice Centenary on Sunday 11th November 2018. On that day, bells will ring out in unison from churches and cathedrals in villages, towns and cities across the country. Big Ben will also strike at 11am to mark the centenary.

To mark the final year of the First World War centenary commemorations, 1,400 new bell ringers will be recruited in honour of the 1,400 that lost their lives during the First World War. Church bells across the UK remained restricted throughout the course of the war and only rang freely once Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918. The campaign to recruit bell ringers, Ringing Remembers, will keep this traditional British art alive in memory of the 1,400 who lost their lives – linking together past, present and future.

Here in the Donheads we were fortunate in that all the ringers who fought in that war returned. Two of the Donhead ringers, W & FJ Sansom, are listed in the Roll of Service (Guild members serving in combat) for the entire duration of the war. Fortunately FJ Sansom (Jack), like the other Donhead ringers listed, returned, and survived to become Ringers’ Captain, from about 1942 till 1970. His father, J Sansom, had been Captain from 1882 before him. It was Jack Sansom who taught me to ring when I was 16.

It is now our turn to ensure that these skills and traditions are passed on to the future. Ringing is a fantastic hobby for all ages from about 11 years old on. You need only to be tall enough to be able to reach the rope and have the coordination to control it. You do not need to be a weight lifter to do it! Equally, for the ‘not so young’ it is excellent medium exercise. Apart from that, it is great fun! You can enjoy all or part of what ringing offers, from musicality, rhythm and movement, being with friends, or tinkering about with the bell mechanics (“under the bonnet”).

If you want to know more, feel free to come up to the tower at 7.30 on any Wednesday evening and you can watch and learn without committing yourself, to see what it is all about. My phone number is in the front of the Digest.

 Christopher Sykes