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Our bells fall silent

by Michael Ford last modified 02 Apr, 2020 07:23 PM

Among the activities curtailed by coronavirus is bellringing. Many in our communities have contacted us to say they miss the sound of the bells and the knowledge that they are calling the faithful to worship.

But, like most other church groups, the bellringers of the Diocese are having to adapt.

Guild Master Robert Wellen reflects on how a few weeks has changed everything:

"Looking back at the Spring edition of our Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers newsletter, Face to Face, only published a few weeks ago, is quite surreal.

"All those reports of tower, branch and Guild activities and adverts for upcoming events seem very ‘other World’ now.

"Sunday service ringing is cancelled, tower practice nights are not taking place and all Guild activities, across the Diocese and at branch level, have been postponed, including our Annual Guild Festival which was due to take place on 9 May.

"The national call to ring for the 75th anniversary of VE Day will almost certainly not happen and of course, most significant of all, the bells will not be ringing out on Easter Sunday.

"Our young ringer activities have been suspended, as has the national young ringers competition due to be held in York on 4 July at which a team from our Guild was due to take part. Many ringers are feeling ‘withdrawal symptoms’ missing their ringing, the physical and mental activity as well as the social interaction.

"This silence is nationwide and (internationally) – almost certainly the first period of ‘ringing silence’ since the end of the Second World War and the first in peacetime.

"However, we ringers are trying to keep a sense of perspective. Compared to the health concerns of vulnerable groups, the problems and anxieties facing many businesses and families, and the community actions springing up, the need to ring bells can seem quite trivial.

"Having said that, your ringers continue to find ways of supporting one another, communicating, learning and keeping up our interest in ringing for however long the current emergency lasts.

"For some of us more technical types there are Facebook groups, YouTube videos, WhatsApp groups and video conferencing, as well as training websites and email correspondence courses. By these means, we ringers can learn ‘new methods’ and keep up our interest and skills. For some of us, who are more ‘old school’, the phones still working and ringers are keeping in contact with each other that way.

"Needless to say, what an especially joyous day it will be for us ringers, and our congregations and parishes, when our bells ring out again!"

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