Young people invited to try bell ringing

Published: Monday April 22, 2024

One of the churches in the Diocese of GloucesterBell ringers from the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers (G&BDACBR) are encouraging young people to give church bell ringing a try.

It comes off the back of their AGM which took place last week at the Stroud Branch and saw over 100 bell ringers in attendance.

Statistics from the G&BDACBR 2023 Annual Report show that, although the number of senior bell ringers has increased by 46% since 2013 in Gloucester and Bristol, the decade has seen the number of junior bell ringers, ringers who are still in full time or higher education, decreased by the same amount.

When young people learn skills like bell ringing, it helps them to feel more comfortable coming into our church buildings and to know that the space belongs to them.

Numbers of junior bell ringers are decreasing with 222 juniors in 1993, down to just 75 juniors recorded last year. Currently, only 6% of the bell ringers in Gloucester and Bristol are juniors.

Roger Haynes, Chairman of the G&BDACBR, said: “I understand that bell ringing is not always an easy sell to a teenager today.  A 14 or 15-year-old might not want to go to their local church to ring with a group of adults.

“The youth team that we have brings together all the young people from different churches into one group, young people ringing with young people. It involves everything, from socialising to learning to competing.

“It’s also a great opportunity to represent your region in a national competition and compete against other teenagers across the country.”

The Ringing World National Youth Contest takes place on the first Saturday of every July. Last year’s competition saw 23 teams from across the country participate, including the Youth Team who represented the Gloucester and Bristol DACBR.

Stroud Branch church ringer Sue Page, who has been bell ringing for 60 years, said: “We desperately need some new learners.  We’re getting older so we need some more people to take it on.

“One problem is that there are lots more activities accessible for young people to do nowadays that I couldn’t do as a teenager. Young people certainly do want to bell ring, but there are sporting activities, for example, that young people also want to do.

“If any young person has an interest and the time to bell ring, they will always be welcomed.”

Bell ringing is a symbolic call to worship. Since ancient times, it has been used to invite people to a church service taking place.

David Pouncey, Chairman of the Stroud Branch, said: “We ring the bells for Sunday church, civic services such as weddings, and events of national importance.

“The bells have been ringing in Stroud every single week for the past 400 years.”

He suggests that young people could take it up as an extracurricular activity: “To increase youth involvement, young people could take it up as part of a volunteering or school-related scheme.

“It’s a great one to do as a part of the Duke of Edinburgh award. If teenagers take it up, it can become a life skill.

“Even if they sign up and come along but don’t pursue it, they’ve got exposure to it. In 20 years’, time, they might hear the bells ringing and think ‘oh the bells are ringing, I might come along to that’.

“It’s a seed sown, and it is always helpful to encourage youngsters to just come along.”

More information about ways to try out bell ringing in the Gloucester and Bristol area can be found here.

















Leave a Reply

Most popular articles today: