At the beginning of the month, the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers held their Annual General Meeting in Ipswich. As a (relatively) newly appointed representative, I headed up the A12 to participate in this event.
The Central Council was founded in 1891 and is an organization that leads and guides change-ringing within the British Isles and around the world. There are over 60 societies and associations, including the KCACR, affiliated to the Council. Each affiliated society is able to send representatives in proportion to its membership. As one of the larger members, Kent has 5 representatives on the Council. The role of these representatives is to scrutinise the decisions and proposals of the executive officers which are presented at the meeting.
Some may think that the CCCBR is no longer necessary, however it does provide opportunities to talk with other reps from around the country and find out the state of ringing beyond the Kent borders. It also has become useful source of information and advice on many different matters associated with ringing and I have, more than once during my ringing career, sought advice on matters linked with ringing from the Central Council.
One of the big issues that we are facing, and one I think that we need to try to be at the forefront of addressing is a project called Ringing 2030. The Central Council has brought in an external organization to help with the branding and marketing of bellringing. (I am sure that I can hear a few sharp intakes of breath and tuts at this point.)
The big issue is that, currently about 60% of ringers are over 60 and a further 25% are aged between 40 and 60. Moving towards 2030, unless we do something soon, the current estimate of 30000 ringers nationwide will significantly dwindle. Applying those figures to Kent, our membership is about 1300 so we would have approximately 1100 members currently aged over 40.
We are very lucky in Kent as we have a very active network for young ringers compared to many associations but if we do not address the number of younger ringers soon, we will find more and more bands disappearing. Hopefully we can find ways to build on this success as well as exploring other ways in which we could get people engaged and involved in learning to ring.
Some of the proposals will appear in the Ringing World over the next few weeks. If you haven’t heard of this, or don’t subscribe, it may be worth finding out more. The Ringing World is a weekly journal written by bellringers for bellringers. As well as news items linked to ringing, it contains a variety of other items in each issue. Some may have an historical slant, some articles may be geared towards newer or less experienced ringers, there may be reports of ringing events – in fact over a few weeks the Ringing World can cover a huge range of ringing related subjects.
We are getting close to October and the season of the Annual District Meetings so once again I am going to put out a plea for volunteers. Our Association only exists because there are volunteers to help with the running of Districts and the Association as a whole. The Districts are a vital part of our Association, making it possible for ringers within an area to meet up regularly and provide opportunities with ringing that may not be possible at a home tower. Each District has a committee and I am sure that each District would welcome new faces to their committee. There is not a huge time commitment and it ensures that all of our Districts are able to run effectively.
The 6 bell competitions will be taking place at the end of the month. Should anybody be in the Monkton area on Saturday 30th, do come along to have a listen. The morning session, which is the method competition, will start at about 10.00 and should be over by about 11.30. The afternoon sees the call-change competition and this will start at about 2.00 and should be over by about 3.30.
I will end by once again publicising the Association Evensong at Rochester Cathedral on Sunday November 19th. The service will start at 3,15pm and during this service, we will remember members of the Association as well as celebrate our work within the Association. The service starts at 3:15pm and all members are invited to attend. We will shortly be asking Districts for names of members who have died since last November in order that they can be remembered at this service.