A handbell day or handbell gathering is an event where people get together to ring handbells intensively. They often last over the course of a weekend. We think these kind of events are great for promoting handbell ringing and for supporting handbell ringers. It brings together expertise within an area so that people can learn new methods or try new things, hopefully with a stronger band than they normally have. Also, it is good for us handbell ringers to ring with different people from time to time, so that we don't fall into bad habits or develop strange quirks.
The biggest handbell event is the Oxford handbell weekend, held every year around Easter, which attracts 30 or more ringers who are scheduled into an intensive day of quarter peals at all levels of expertise. When we started running Scottish handbell days, we used this model to get ourselves started. But many other ringing associations and groups also have events, and the number is increasing all the time.
We decided to host a Scottish handbell day because we kept hearing about this person or that person who rang handbells but weren't active due to a lack of available ringers. So we decided it would be a good idea to get all these people together in one place and see if we could get some more ringing going in other parts of Scotland. Plus, it is a good excuse for a party.
Since our first handbell day, we have held them regularly twice a year, and each time the people and format change just a little, just so it doesn't get stale, and still offers a good opportunity for the ringers who attend. What started as a private initiative on our part is now included in the Scottish Association calendar. And yes, there is more handbell ringing in Scotland than previously, but we are not sure we can take credit for that.....