Donhead St Mary Bell-Ringers - December 2018 Report

Did you hear the bells ring at 12.30 on 11th November 2018, part of the nations marking of the Armistice Centenary? The ringers were Roy Jeans, Paul Dewey, Hazel Hinchley, Calvin Eales, Chris Kilner and myself (Julie Sykes was to have rung but was indisposed). Before it started, we recalled the names of the 5 DSM ringers who fought and returned (see the October 2018 Report) and also relatives of those ringing today who fought in the Great War, some surviving and others killed in action. it was very moving for all of us.

Last time I wrote that “incidentally, it was FJ Sansom (Jack) who taught me to ring". It was one Friday evening when he took a 16-year old lad up to the church tower, and, in the course of the evening, taught him to ring a bell. The next day, people were asking in the village shop “Who was it that’s died? It must be someone important - that bell was tolling all evening”! Of course, it wouldn’t be allowed like that today, as Safeguarding rules prevail. There were no regular practice evenings then either, and ringing seemed to take place whenever the ringers were all free. I next learnt to ring in time with other bells on the following Monday, and two days after that, went with Jack Sansom, Jack Edwards and Bert Howell to ring at Donhead St Andrew, where Bert was Captain. It was all exciting stuff, and I found ringing to be exhilarating, fun and worthwhile. I celebrated the 50th anniversary of that day on 30 August 2018 with a quarter peal that I conducted, the other ringers being the Master of the Guild and four from the Donheads.

To ring the changes in 1968 we used cards. A card lay on the floor in front of each ringer, on which was written the change number (1, 2, 3 and so on) and against it, which bell you had to follow. When Jack wanted us to change, he would call “Change!"'. This was all right for a while, but by the time we had reached change no. 23 or 24 or so, people would forget what number we had got to, and there would be general confusion for a while! After that, he would call out the next number. However, there was no soundproofing, so you couldn’t always hear what the number was over the sound of the bells which were only a few feet above us, so really the answer was just to concentrate all the time.

We shall ring for Midnight Mass and keeping the tradition of ringing out the Old Year before midnight on New Year’s Eve and ringing in the New Year just after midnight. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christopher Sykes