Personal reflections from the Central Council weekend

A huge amount of effort is made by a lot of people, when putting together a meeting of the Central Council of Church Bellringers. Most of it unseen.The most important bit is choosing a venue where so many people can get to.  Then the Ringing World  and the Central Council, prepare reports, accounts, statistics, future plans etc, And on top of that, each of the workgroups has to prepare a presentation of their work for the past year and of what future plans they have.  Plus there are the activities to manage the day – the tech support, roving  microphones, stewards, helpers, barrier openers, name badges , signing in sheets, welcome desks, drinks and food… and so much more….

The Ringing World meeting comes  first. As it is the official journal of the Central Council, members have to attend to accept reports, accounts etc.
Do you ever put ringing on Bellboard? You might not have realised this belongs to the Ringing World, too, and is a massive and important creation, which helps put together records and get performance content printed in the Ringing World, recorded for all time (hopefully)! Richard Smith was heartily thanked for his hugely important contribution to the life of most ringers, past present and future, whether they know it or not!

The Central Council AGM itself divides rather neatly into two parts. First come the introductions of new members, apologies for absences and the ‘In Memoriam’ section where details of members and past members who have died since the previous meeting are read out.  Then the usual business of minutes of the last meeting (Sept 2021, on Zoom) matters arising, trustees report, the accounts, etc.  

Then the workgoups reported on their year’s work since last AGM, These report are most interesting – and my goodness! What a lot is done without us really knowing anything of it! So many hard-working people! The dozen or so reports will be available online on the CCCBR website and printed in the Ringing World, so no need to say anymore about them!

The main motions passed were
1, to make Council subscription fees proportional – £0.20 per member of each affiliated guild/society.
2, the Welsh Colleges guild became affiliated.

The part that I want to share, in more detail, is food for thought for us all, in our guild – the FUTURE!!!!!

Addressing Ringing Challenges
This was led by the president, Simon Linford and was most interesting! He said that the age demographic suggests that ringing will be eventually be a dead art. There are currently not enough ringers in the under-25 age group, to replace all the 60+ age group, (who may die, give up ringing through ill-health and/or stop teaching as they get older). By the time oldies like me do one of those, there will be too few ringers to do anything much!

Simon is starting a new project called Ringing 2030 to change this and protect the future, and a new committee to work on it. Some ideas mentioned were:

1) Branding and Marketing have been looked at.  The design, marketing and branding agency, Yellowyoyo, looked at the branding of ringing and described: “it’s all a bit disjointed isn’t it?” Yellowyoyo ( “a talented team of inspiring, curious people delivering world class, relevant ideas”) has been appointed as our partner.

The world is now quite different even to what it was when the Council last commissioned research in how to brand and market ringing. The primary channels to one of our target audiences were not invented then and the demographic profile of ringing has moved on.

A recent survey had shown that very few ringers were brought into ringing by a parent. So, how did they become aware of ringing and how can we increase opportunities to engage with people not from a ringing family?

2) A National Heritage Lottery Fund bid to promote bells in schools is one of the plans being worked on. Much more public exposure in schools to get many more young people hooked as early as possible.

3) The new mobile belfry being produced may be the first of several such things, to give a real bellringing feel, rather than one-handed ringing in mini and micro rings, to teach people on. These can be used where people gather, at shows, shopping centres, schools, etc…

4) A National Ringing Centre is being set up in Northampton – more may follow!

Our own committee has already recognised we have major problems, and have already started working on changing this for the CDGCBR!

The Rest of the Weekend

One of the nice things about the Annual CCCBR is the non-business side of things. Friday had council members helping local ringers make progress by have three groups to work on basic, intermediate and advanced ringing skills with them. Followed by a buffet and social evening at a local pub. Saturday night, after the business meeting, they put on a ceilidh with a bar selling Welbeck Abbey beers whose brewster is a local ringer!!!

For Sunday morning, we were invited to join ringers at local towers – and there are a lot of them!!! I chose to ring at Corpus Christi, a very modern RC church with a strange tower. I had been there once before, to see the six bells that were going to be installed there, displayed on the floor round the font. Tiny little things with bright green headstocks! Now hung for ringing, they were delightful and we struck them very well!

After that there was the Ringing Roadshow! There were outdoor portable rings, the new council Mobile belfry, just finished in time for sampling, lots of dumbbells/minirings inside; books galore, bell-related products of all sorts, Christmas cards!!  A ropewalk, muffles, handbells, HRGB; Abel, Simbell, ART publications, Ringing World publications, Central Council Books, Loughborough Bell Foundry Trust, John Taylor & CO, and more….. Every ringer was invited to this – not just council reps.

The one, really nice thing was the number of people who knew me, coming over to say hello, and even some hugs!!! It seemed like every way I looked, I found someone else that I already knew, in real life … and there were some from online ringing, that I met in real life, for the first time.

Chris de Cordova, CC Rep

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