Handbells, and why more people don't ring them, has been a subject on the Change Ringers mailing list over the last couple of days. The debate has been fairly lively, not yet very conclusive, and so probably far from over.
In the midst of this, Lester Yeo, from the Guild of Devonshire Ringers, asked if other Guilds and Associations have specific handbell events (like their Handbells for All event described below). Surprisingly few answers have appeared as yet, but this post is giving those that we know of some oxygen, in the hope to promote more of them happening.
The biggest and oldest (so far as we know) is the Oxford Diocesan Guild Handbell Bash, which has been going since at least 1987, and now has grown to six simultaneous bands/attempts during each of six sessions over a day, and includes a huge number of ringers and quarters ranging from Plain Bob to scary things on twelve. This year's Bash is happening tomorrow, so more news on that front.
Another one is Handbells For All at Okehampton, which is being held on Sunday 29th April. Unlike the Oxford event, this one appears to be arranged around practising and 'have a go' sessions. If any handbell ringers are in the area, they would be most welcome - just drop the organisers a line.
As you may or may not know, we have been hosting Scottish Handbell Days twice a year for a couple of years, and we started doing them so we could ring more together than as disparate groups across the country. Also, we hoped to encourage more handbell ringing across the board.
Having a gathering like this is one of the most effective ways to kickstart participation in handbell ringing. It helps to flush out dormant handbell ringers (we discovered many more handbell ringers in Scotland than we suspected), introduces ringers to each other, and gives some impetus for carrying on ringing in between times. Plus, it is a lot of fun. Go for it, and then let us know how it went.