Firstly, I want to start with a thank you to all members who have already renewed their subscriptions to the Association. I have heard that some members have had problems with their online renewal and I am sure that your District Secretary or Membership Secretary will be able to assist if you have not yet successfully renewed your membership. However, I should remind you that time is short before we have to submit the information that we wish to have in the 2023 Handbook so there is a deadline of 19th February. This deadline also applies to information regarding tower contact details as well as details regarding births, marriages and deaths (including obituaries). This information can be uploaded via the KCACR website; again your District Secretary should be able to assist you with this.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has recently published more information about Ringing 2030. This is a big initiative to look at ways to promote ringing and to try to address the current decline in numbers. It is not intended as a quick fix but as a way of making ringing sustainable. I think that we have all become aware of the fall in numbers in ringing due to many different factors and, unless it is addressed, we will find that more and more towers become silent.
It is not all doom and gloom and I have seen several towers that have recently shown different initiatives to gain recruits. Tonbridge have produced and circulated leaflets as well as posting on different social media sites in order to raise their profile; a successful venture resulting in several enquiries. In Cranbrook, there are ringing sessions being offered as part of the skills or volunteering section of the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Occasionally it is a more old school route where a tower contacts the Association directly but as a result of this, I have recently started to help with training a new band at a tower in the Rochester District.
Many towers are trying to raise the profile of ringing and I know of churches that already have a ‘Ringers’ Sunday’ where the ringers are recognized for their work at the church, either as part of a service or within a special service dedicated to their work. A recent innovation of the Association has been the Ringers’ Memorial Service at Rochester Cathedral, which incidentally will be on Sunday November 19th this year (to hopefully avoid clashes with ringers’ services at other churches), but the Central Council, in liaison with the Clerical Guild, is trying to establish a Bell Sunday. This year it will be on Sunday 14th May (the Sunday preceding the Feast of St Dunstan) and the hope is to make this a regular part of the Church calendar in the same way that the Royal School of Church Music has established a Music Sunday to focus on the role that music plays within the church.
I was pleased that some of you offered comments regarding the training courses that I mentioned in my last ‘Words From the Chair’. It does help to have this involvement from members. Through these posts, I am endeavouring to find another way to make members of the Association aware of what might be going on in Kent and further afield. On that note, some of you may not be aware that there is an online ringers forum that has been running for about a year. It appears to be be still very much in its early stages of development but is certainly worth a look, especially if you are trying to find the answer to a ringing related question or just curious about a ringing related matter. It can be found at https://www.ringingforums.org/
Finally, we do have a General Committee meeting coming up at the end of February so if there are any issues you would like raised there, please do speak with your District Representative (contact details for most District Reps should be on the KCACR website or in the 2022 Handbook) and they will be able to bring this to the meeting.
Hopefully we will be able to circulate more details of the forthcoming AGM on Easter Monday in the next few weeks, but please do make a note in your diaries that it will be taking place.