Here we are less than three weeks off the Okehampton handbell afternoon. I’ve had it on the education programme since the start of the year, and in recent weeks sent emails to anyone in Devon I know of who rings handbells; as well as sending a poster out through branch secretaries, hopefully to go on every tower notice board. But I’ve had few responses and even fewer pasty orders! So it’s panic as usual for me, but I know it always turns out well attended (usually over 20 people) and good fun. This will be the fourth year of this Guild of Devonshire Ringers’ event so we’re on well trodden ground…
Mischa, who can ring a bit of Plain bob on handbells, opens her home to us from lunchtime on a Sunday and gets in loads of pasties so we start with eating. But as soon as possible I get people into groups practicing Plain Hunt or Plain Bob with the less experienced. After a bit the ‘better’ ringers try some Surprise Major or venture onto 10 or 12 (eeek!), then go back to helping learners. Mischa also has a 10-bell Saxilby simulator in her garage so this will be used, and a bit of tune ringing on handbells sneaks in. Sometimes a handbell quarter will be rung, but it’s mostly practice.
You’re not going to see much sustained progress once a year, but the event gets Devon handbell ringers together, and may spark off a new group some time?
I know of a couple of young ringers coming this time, with a new interest in handbells, so that’s encouraging. And on a personal note, my 78 year old mother is staying with us this week and keen to have the handbells out every day for plain hunt, so you’re never too old!