As I write this, another year is drawing to a close and for many it is a time for reflecting on the previous 12 months and recalling the highs and lows of the passing year. It is also a time for looking forward to the approaching new year and contemplating what it may bring.
As far as ringing goes, I think that it the highlight of the year was the build up for the Coronation and the additional publicity that ringing received as a result of this. It certainly gave many towers some new recruits and boosted the profile of bell ringers in society in general.
Whilst not necessarily a low, my biggest frustration has been trying to think of ways in which to overcome the problem of finding volunteers. I have referred to this a few times in my Words from the Chair and how ringing in general and our Association in particular can only function if there are the volunteers to fill roles. As bell ringers, we are all regarded as volunteers within the church, however there is a need for individuals to take on specific duties, such as a tower officer, in order to ensure that their ringing band continues to exist. Recently I heard of a tower that was experiencing problems because a successor could not be found to take over from the previous tower captain which meant that existence of the entire band was in jeopardy.
Perhaps we need to rethink how bands operate? I know that I have written about groups of towers, often within the same benefice, which share their ringers. This has several positives; it ensures that a group of towers continue to remain active, it enables a better turn-out of ringers at a practice or for service ringing and it can also aid the progress of the band since the pool of available ringers is greater.
Sue Bassett, our General Secretary, has also been considering this with regards, to teaching ringing. In my last Words I mentioned the ART training course that was due to take place and Sue has also been thinking about this and, as a result, set up some training hubs. These are aimed at those who have undertaken the M1 training and are working towards accreditation and at those who are new to ringing. The hubs provide an opportunity for the new tutors to have some uninterrupted teaching time and provides them with an opportunity to hone their skills whilst under the guidance of an accredited ART M1 ringing teacher
More importantly, it gives learners more rope time. I know that many towers are still trying to squeeze teaching into a practice night which will result in many learners getting very little quality rope time during a practice. Hopefully, the training hub will provide them with that extended rope time so that they can really develop their skills under the eye of the tutors.
These sessions have already begun and the initial feedback is very positive from both the tutors and the learners. It is perhaps time that we look at how we teach learners in the Association and consider how to provide good quality teaching albeit initially not necessarily at that person’s home tower. Many of you probably recall the work of Peter Dale and his team at the Dover Cinque Ports Ringing Centre which provided very useful teaching and training opportunities for new ringers. Now we have more M1 trained teachers, hopefully we can build on this idea across Kent.
Hopefully, unless you are a life member, you will have received notification about membership renewals by now. We have moved our membership system over to MemberMojo, which is designed for managing the membership of clubs and associations. This is an online only system and, all being well, most of you will have found it reasonably straightforward to renew you membership for another year. There are clear instructions on the membership pages. Should you not be able to access the system, then it is possible to renew using a printable renewal form but this will need downloading from the Membership section of the KCACR website. Should you experience any problems then contact Doug Davis, our Membership Secretary.
I am finishing this as I prepare to go to Rochester Cathedral to ring for the first of the Cathedral’s Carol Services. As you may be aware, there was a small fire in the Cathedral on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, it was quickly extinguished and the damage was minimal. Along with many others, I am sure that you can imagine the relief that I felt when we were told that the Christmas services could proceed as normal. This is a time of the year where we, as ringers, can remind those beyond the church that it is there, it is active and we are helping to spread the good news of Christ’s birth to the world beyond the doors of the church. May I wish you all a very happy Christmas and send you best wishes for 2024.