The Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers

Team Manager's Report

The Ringing World National Youth Contest was hosted by Birmingham on Saturday 1 July. The majority of the G & B Team gathered in Nailsworth at 7.30am to join the coach to take us to Birmingham. Another pick-up point at Brockworth and we were on our way and we arrived at Harbourne in time to hear the judges raising the bells.

The G & B rang second starting at 10.20 and rang Plain Hunt Triples. The G & B rang to their potential and, having listened to the previous band ring the same thing, our confidence grew that the G & B might actually progress through to the next round. After plenty of team photographs we got back onto the coach and moved onto Kings Norton for a ring on that ring of 10. All of our young ringers rang there with Birmingham ringers supplying adult helpers to ensure the ringing was of a good quality. The adults in our party were also fortunate enough to ring on these excellent sounding bells. Whilst there I noticed Chris Mew, past Chairman of the Central council, sitting quietly in the corner watching proceedings.

Next stop was the grand ring of 12 at Aston. There were a lot of young ringers here queuing to ring and this was the first time during the day where we came across our main competitors - Bedfordshire and Yorkshire. Just before we all went upstairs to ring, the winners of each of the three heats were announced and there we were - G & B drawn first to ring at St Pauls, Birmingham in the final. The G & B rushed up the long spiral staircase to 'grab' Aston. Again there were lots of Birmingham ringers present including Mark Eccleston who the previous week had led the winning Birmingham Team in the National 12 Bell contest.

Back to the coach and here our driver, Martin of Rover Coaches, excelled himself finding his way through Birmingham on this unplanned journey to St Pauls. Just enough time for another Team Talk, coaching the Team on how to improve on their ringing in the preliminary heat and also a strict talking to by one of the competition organisers for the team to be quiet on the way up to the ringing chamber so that the judges would not be able to guess which team was ringing. This lady said only the conductor should talk. Thomas (our conductor) gave me a look as both he and I knew that he had rung with Julian Howes in the G & B Youth Team on countless occasions over the last few years and that Julian was a judge today!!

Standing outside listening to our ringing took me back to 2012 when the G & B led by Simon Edwards won the RWNYC. We all knew that our ringing on this occasion could not be to that standard but once again the G & B raised their game and we were all pleased with the ringing they produced. More photographs and a quick ring on the Mini Ring before moving on to St Martins.

At St Martins we were met by the noise of the Charmborough Mini Ring looked after for the day by members of the Birmingham University ringers amongst who were past members of the G & B Youth Team - Amelie Hunnebeck-Wells and Suzzanah Moore. All our young ringers then took the opportunity to ring on the 16 bells of St Martins. This ringing was organised by Simon Linford and there were lots of experienced helpers there as well. Call Changes on all 16 and Plain Hunt 15 were no problem for the young ringers present. Time for more ringing on the mini ring with some of our group having the benefit of tuition from Jack Page (aged 19 and already a veteran of 2 National 12 Bell Competition wins with the Birmingham Band).

At last, time for the announcements of the results. Here, Julian Howes played a prominent role and spoke extremely well. The young and inexperienced G & B Team were placed 5th overall which exceeded all our expectations. The winners were the extremely impressive Yorkshire Team who rang Plain Bob Triples.

The day ended with all the 2017 G & B Youth Team agreeing to commit themselves to remaining in the team for next year when the RWNYC will be hosted by Southwark Cathedral in London. Just as importantly, all of the G & B adult support team agreed to stay in post for another year as well.

With our young ringers asking when the next Youth team practice will be we said our goodbyes and we will start the process all over again in October.

For the record the G & B Youth Team are:

  1. Millie Judson of Woodchester (Stroud Branch) aged 12
  2. Mary Pang of Barnwood (Gloucester Branch) aged 14
  3. Florence Lazenby of Ampney Crucis (Cirencester Branch) aged 15
  4. Madeleine Johnson of Much Marcle (Forest Branch) aged 14
  5. Thomas Moller of Filton (Bristol Rural Branch) aged 17 (C)
  6. Alistair White-Horne of Stone (Wotton Branch) aged 15
  7. James Joynson of Wotton-Under Edge (Wotton Branch) aged 17
  8. Ben White-Horne of Stone (Wotton Branch) aged 17


Young Ringers' Comments

Arriving at Harborne just over an hour before our moment in the spotlight meant plenty of time for a strong mental preparation. I chose instead to spend my time not thinking about the bell ringing but focussed on our lovely surroundings and the 'beautiful' summer weather - raining and somewhat chilly!

After a jaw-aching period of photographs we were up the stairs - after we had listened intently to our fellow competitors - and in to the ringing room where I sternly told myself that I would not miss the sally and that I would definitely stand at the end. Luckily I managed to fulfil both of these orders and came away thinking perhaps we had actually done quite well, only time would tell...

After the bright early start (5.45 to be exact), I thought it must be time for lunch, but no! We had two more towers to ring at and wouldn't be in central Birmingham until 1.30...onwards and upwards. A gentle, relaxed ring at Kings Norton was followed by a breath-taking, hair-raising, series of manoeuvres to manipulate our 50 seater coach around some poorly parked cars and a signpost. Several minutes and a hearty round of applause for the driver later and we were back on the road.

Next was Aston. There were many teams waiting to ring in front of us but (in spite of my ever rumbling stomach) this was OK, we didn't mind, we didn't have anywhere else to be ... until - as we finally reached the bottom of the tower the whisper went round: "The G&B is in the final!" No, of course we weren't, not with six brand new team members - including myself! Except we were: IN THE FINAL!!! After a quick burst of rounds we hurried on to the coach and - after several team members had remembered their forgotten bags, hopped off, rushed up the tower and back again - we were off to St Paul's for THE FINAL.

As we were on at 2pm there was little time for any major (or even triples) preparation, "It'll be OK" they said "we didn't expect to get to the final" they said. But now that we're in THE FINAL, I wouldn't mind winning - I thought. Before we knew it we'd blasted off into Plain Hunt, filling the whole of Birmingham with the sounds of perfect striking - we hoped.

Then it was all over, we had done our bit and were set free, out to grab those 16 bells of St Martin's. Well, only after another lengthy pause for photos (just in case we looked any different from the morning!) and a go on the Ambergate mini ring; we were into Birmingham and up St Martin's, and still no lunch.

After a very, very, very.... long wait, I grabbed a rope and managed to make it through jump rounds without a hitch, despite ten different voices attempting to explain "the rules" beforehand and me not understanding a single one of them. Satisfied with my brief tower grab I finally got lunch - it was 4.30pm!

Just an hour later and suitably re-fuelled, we settled down to eagerly await the results. Despite my brief dream that we would win the contest, joint 5th was pretty gratifying. Overall the day was very enjoyable and I came away feeling very satisfied, foremost with my official RWNYC shiny silver medal - but also with my new, bright blue, "I rang on the 16 at St Martin's in the Bull Ring" t-shirt particularly as I bought the very last one at a well negotiated 50% discount - a definite highlight of the day.

The G and B youth team is a really great organisation to be part of, for ringers with very good striking - as well as those of us who perhaps aren't so confident. The support we receive is absolutely brilliant, and so I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who make the youth team possible, from all of the practices to the final competition - particularly for the surprisingly good result!!!

-- Florence Lazenby, Ampney Crucis

The trip to Birmingham was outstanding I feel like bringing my handbells was a good idea because they got everyone talking to each other and playing with each other.

The towers were well selected for the competition and the thing I would change is the massive queues going up the towers. My favourite bit of the day was obviously the mini rings and the last thing I can say is thank you for organising this trip to Birmingham.

-- Ivan Barritt, Barnsley

The trip to Birmingham was really enjoyable, there were so many things you got to do; ring at new towers, get to ring in multiple mini-rings and the general experience and atmosphere was really friendly and positive which made the trip even better. Personally, I really enjoyed ringing at the mini rings because they are really fun and can be challenging if like me, you haven't rung on one in a while. One the highlights was ringing at St Martin's in the Bullring, it was a once in a lifetime experience getting to ring 16 bells. The entire day was a great experience and I think it was really good that we were able to take part in the competition as part of the G & B youth team and I am really looking forward to being part of the event next year as part of the team.

-- Catherine Barritt, Barnsley


The band
The band plus reserves
Supporters listening to the test piece at St Pauls
The entire party: band, reserves and supporters at Harbourne