Bell ringer wins award for learning the ropes

Neil Waterman, second left, with qualified ringing teachers Ruth Monks,  Rose Nightingale and Richard Booth.
Neil Waterman, second left, with qualified ringing teachers Ruth Monks, Rose Nightingale and Richard Booth.

A bell ringer from Marsworth has won an award for his outstanding progress in learning the traditional pastime.

Neil Waterman, who began learning to ring at All Saints’ Church in 2014, has won a silver medal from the Association of Ringing Teachers through the Learning The Ropes scheme.

Marsworth Church

Marsworth Church

The judges were impressed by his rapid progress and commitment to local ringing activities and Neil will now be invited to attend a masterclass in Birmingham in September, accompanied by other high achieving ringers from all over the UK who have participated in the scheme.

Neil was presented with his medal by qualified ringing teachers Ruth Monks, Rose Nightingale and Richard Booth.

Richard said: “Church bell ringing is not only a traditional English pastime, but can become an extremely absorbing activity where there are always further challenges to aspire to, with increasingly intricate and complex ‘methods’ to learn – which are the bell-ringing equivalent of group music making.

“Learning to even handle a church bell competently can take between 10-20 hours of one to one instruction, then learners start to ring with other people and enjoy the social aspect of what is essentially a team activity.

“Although many people love hearing the traditional English sound of church bells, they are often surprised at the complexity and diversity of skills required to play these loud, unamplified instruments.”

The oldest of the six church bells at Marsworth dates from 1662 but the tower is equipped with the latest modern technology - a ringing ‘simulator’ which enables ringers to practise with the bells silenced outside.

Marsworth is an accredited teaching tower which means that there are qualified ringing teachers available to show people the ropes and they regularly train new ringers from within the village and the surrounding area.

There are in the region of 40,000 bellringers in the UK who regularly enjoy ringing at over 5,000 different church towers nationwide. As well as being a highly sociable, low cost and welcoming hobby, many enjoy the mental stimulation and physical exercise it provides whilst maintaining a historic tradition.

Although church bells are regularly rung before religious services, these ancient instruments are also rung for community and national occasions, such as St George’s Day, the Queen’s Jubilee and local events.

The ringing teachers at Marsworth are always delighted to hear from anyone between the ages of nine and 90 who are interested in learning to ring bells.

Please contact Richard Booth on 07850 038197 or email cmmbelfries@gmail.com to arrange an introductory session and tour of the tower.