I have returned from a weekend in York with the Kent Young Ringers. We had a taken a team of 6 ringers to take part in the Ringing World National Youth Contest which is one of currently two major national competitions in ringing, both of which have recently taken place.
The National 12-Bell Striking Contest and the RWNYC attract a great deal of interest in many ringing circles. For many, the 12-Bell represents the pinnacle of good ringing. Over the years it has also developed as a social event, attracting both supporters of the individual teams and casual visitors. In the ringing calendar, the 12-Bell is probably the most important ringing event in the year.
However, the Ringing World National Youth Contest should perhaps be regarded as of an equal status in importance, and we do need to remember that this investment of time and effort into the next generation of ringers is vital to ensure that ringing continues.
Having now attended 7 different contests based in a variety of different cities around England, I have seen this event grow both in the number of attendees and in its reputation. Planning is no mean feat for this event. This year saw over 250 young ringers accompanied by team leaders and accompanying parents representing 24 different Associations or Guilds descend on the City of York for a day. However, the event is geared towards the young ringers so accompanying adults do not necessarily get an opportunity to ring at the towers due to the sheer number of participants.
Most of the towers in York were open but each team was given a personalized itinerary of six towers in order to cope with the numbers involved. This included both a slot at one of the towers designated as a contest tower (one for teams ringing methods and one for teams ringing call-changes) and a slot to ring at York Minster, probably the highlight of the ringing for most of the participants.
I am very proud of our team on two counts. Firstly, we were awarded 3rd place in the call-change section which was a real achievement considering that this was the first time that 2 of the team members had participated. Secondly, on a more personal level, it marked the final year that my daughter could participate as a contestant. She has thoroughly enjoyed the experiences offered through her membership of the Kent Young Ringers and especially participating in this contest and captained the team for the last two years.
Our Young Ringers are a very active group. If you know of any ringer under the age of 25, but particularly those still at school, please do get in touch to find out more about what the Kent Young Ringers are about and when and where they practice.
A few weeks ago, we held the Association’s 8-bell competition which was held at Lympne. Five Districts were able to enter this year and the test piece was a touch of St Clement’s College Bob Major and David Kirkcaldy and Kathy Howard came over from Sussex to judge the event. After commenting on the individual performances, David announced the winners. Congratulations go to the Canterbury District who won the competition for the second year running, however the Lewisham District came a very close 2nd. The Tonbridge District were placed 3rd, Rochester District 4th and the Ashford District were 5th.
It was good to see a few members who were not involved in the morning’s ringing travel to the Ashford District to ring at some of the open towers that were available in the afternoon. Once again, I would like to thank the Ashford District for making all the necessary arrangements.
Another two competitions are taking place on the 30th September. The Association 6-bell method competition will be taking place that morning at Monkton with the draw at 9:45am. In the afternoon, the first Association call-change competition will be taking place, also at Monkton. The rules for this have been sent out to District secretaries; they are also on the KCACR Facebook page and on the KCACR website in the News section.
Rather than restrict entries to individual towers or Districts, the entry requirements are that all team members are members of the Association. There will be a restriction of a maximum of 10 teams and requests to take part must be sent to me by the 30th August. If I receive more than 10 requests then there will be a draw to determine the bands that are able to enter. I do hope that you will consider entering this.
I have already alluded to the importance of our next generation of ringers but, having read the latest President’s Blog on the CCCBR website, am slightly concerned by the comment there about the estimated number of ringers being around 30000. To put this into context, a survey took place in the 1980s which suggested that the number of ringers was around 40000. We have all been aware of the recent successes of Ring for the King and Ringing Remembers and the Central Council are looking at ways in which ringing can be promoted to encourage uptake from new recruits. Hopefully, we will continue to seek these opportunities in our own towers and localities.