The ringers at Otley Parish Church have been suffering untold withdrawal symptoms during our long drought since Spring 2020, when all ringing of church bells had to stop until further notice.
Eventually we were allowed to dong one bell on Sundays, or two where it was two ringers sharing a household. But that’s not very challenging or stimulating, and some ringers were not in a position to do even that. There was some solace in ringing online thanks to a clever website called Ringing Room, but it didn’t suit everyone - and it wasn’t real bells.
Some of us were distinctly nervous about handling a bell-rope again, but as we found out at our first ‘silent’ practice on in late May 2021, using our simulator, it really is like riding a bike! When you’ve learned to do something that takes several weeks to master, it stays put in the little grey cells. Remembering the more complex patterns that we use to vary the changes takes a bit longer, but we’ve made a start.
Our practices on Thursday evenings (7.30-8.15pm) will now go on as normal, apart from only having six ringers present, lasting for only 45 minutes and having to comply with all the hygiene regulations. It’s not too easy communicating against the sound of the bells (the door to the belfry open for ventilation) when wearing face-masks!
There will also be ‘silent’ practices using the simulator when we need them - e.g. for any aspiring new learners out there! We can ring for weddings as well, and when things ease up further we will have an Open Tower Day to welcome visitors to the bells again.
The ringers' 4th annual Burns night event was held on Saturday 25th January, with the proceeds going to their Bells Maintenance Fund.
Tower Captain, Meg Morton, said: “The ceilidh was a huge success, selling out its 150 tickets well beforehand. We don’t have the final total but the amount raised was not far short of £2,000".
“Thanks to everyone who came for supporting us so generously, and special thanks to the Parish Church for letting us use its wonderful space. The music was provided and dancing called by Village Hop and a very tasty haggis supper prepared by members of the bellringers’ band and friends, with beer brewed by Paul Briscoe and the haggis rung in on handbells by colleagues from Ilkley Parish Church.”
Otley's Parish Church bellringer rings after her own wedding
Suzanne Phillipson climbed the spiral stairs in her wedding dress to ring with the rest of the band.
She learned to ring last year in time to join the band on Remembrance Sunday for the commemoration of the end of World War I, after hearing in The Archers programme on Radio 4 about a project inviting new ringers to make up for the 1,400 lost in action during the hostilities. This total was nearly doubled, Suzanne and another recruit, Richard Bowman, helping to boost that number when they learned to ring at Otley.
Suzanne and her husband James Yates were played out of the church to the theme tune from the Archers, and the bellringers also included an 'Archers Change' in their ringing as the couple left the church.
Jamie's first quarter peal
Congratulations to the tower's youngest ringer, Jamie Ross, on the successful completion of his first quarter peal on 29th October 2019!
Photos by Simon Carey
90th birthday celebratory peal
Jeffery Cooper is a regular at Otley All Saints practice evenings and event ringing. To celebrate the occasion of his recent 90th birthday, Jeffery rang a peal - 5056 Plain Bob Major. It was a double celebration as Otley ringer Julia Thornely successfully completed her first peal. We also celebrated Jeffery's birthday with a gathering in the Old Cock pub, Otley
The Burns Night Ceilidh on 26th January 2018
was a great success! Thank you to all who attended; profits from ticket sales, raffle and sale of drinks have boosted the coffers of our maintenance funds by more than £1,000.
Looks like it may become an annual event!