New simulator at Appleby

There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time ! Appleby is within easy reach of Carlisle and is connected to Brough by the A66. Brough is the home of the heaviest ring of four bells.
The tenor weighs 19 cwt. and they are unringable – at the moment ! Understandably, there are no ringers in Brough – yet !.

Ron East has other plans : he has secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the bells and, to provide the required ‘public engagement’ strand of the project, is presently recruiting ringers from Brough. They will need somewhere to learn and Appleby, an easy going, 9 cwt. six is a reasonably near neighbour where a word in the right ear will meet an obliging response.

The owner of that ear was certainly in the right place at the right time and was delighted when Ron requested access to the Appleby bells so that the Brough ringers could learn there and, even more so, when Ron said his project would fund provision of the same kind of simulator facility for Appleby as can be found in the cathedral and at Penrith.

On the day when UK temperatures soared to their highest ever level, Ron, John Proudfoot and I ascended the tower at Appleby to install the equipment and then verify its faultless operation. Hot air rises !  In the church, it was cool and shady but, upstairs in the bell chamber, it was very hot indeed, despite the open louvres.

It will be marvellous to see the new Brough ringers learn rapidly in concentrated, intensive sessions on easy bells with no worries about noise nuisance to neighbours. Having the simulator in Appleby will allow our own band to practice more or less whenever we wish and this will pay dividends for us, too. We will silence the bells with clapper ties during practice and rely on ABEL software to reproduce the sound in the ringing room through a set of inexpensive speakers. At the stage of learning to hands a bell, learners will correlate their movements and muscle-memory with the sound of the bell and this will assist good striking later. Later, ABEL will supply a strong band of solid ringers around the learner so that rounds will be immaculate ; the software will report striking errors and assist subsequent accuracy. Eventually, learners will ring simple methods and ABEL will facilitate their acquisition of ropesight by displaying moving images of other ringers and their ropes on the laptop (provided free from Ron’s fund).

The sensors (in yellow), emit a beam of bright light. As the bell rotates, the yellow reflector returns a flash of light, triggering a message from the sensor to the computer.

Thank you, Ron and John for the work you put in that day and especially, Ron, for incorporating Appleby in your plans for Brough. Our band at Appleby is still developing and we are actively recruiting. The new simulator will greatly facilitate the training of our own new ringers as well as new friends from Brough. I’m really pleased to have been in the right place at the right time for Appleby to  receive a lucky windfall from the Brough project. The essence of good striking is to be in the right place at the right time, too and the simulator will help us rehearse towards the highest standards.

Ringers from Brough will be able to join colleagues from Appleby, Shap, Orton and Bampton at our regular, shared practices. Possession of a simulator will make Appleby an attractive venue to hold ART courses at levels 1 and 2.

Nick Harrop

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