Balderton bells welcome for the first Westmoreland ringer
The following is written by Mark Westmoreland, who is learning to ring for Ringing Remembers at St Giles in Balderton, which is next to Newark in Nottinghamshire.
Mark: I have always loved the sound of the church bells ringing and after years of wanting to learn the art, I started March 2018 and I am pleased to say I love it! When ringing I feel a part of something special. Ringing has been around for centuries in our society which I feel makes it more of a privilege to be involved in.
I ring at the Parish Church of St Giles in Balderton, which is next to Newark in Nottinghamshire. The church dates back to the 12th Century, I love history and the church has been here for so long and seen so much which I find very special. I was married at the church and my children were christened here and I feel this is the heart of our village.
I understand some towers of churches are high and bell ringers have to climb quite a few steps before they are able to start, however I’m lucky we have only 10 steps to the tower. I’ve got a great teacher called John Dodd, he has been guiding me through my step by step learning process so patiently. There are many movements to become familiar with and new names to learn. When I initially began with the back stroke, I thought there is no way I’ll be able to do it. However, slowly as the muscle memory kicks in and I progressed from one move to another I am starting to feel fairly confident. I have to give 100% concentration when ringing, a few times I’ve been caught out and the rope has been whipping around, fortunately I was assisted by John or another team member to get me back on track.
I particularly enjoy ringing being a real team effort and the other ringers help me out with where I need to be, whether to slow or speed up and when it all comes together, the sound is fabulous. There is a great sense of achievement as I learn new things, it’s a real skill and it’s fantastic when I have a good session. I am now doing “rounds” and “call changes” and just about to start “plain hunting”. I have rung now at the last 3 Sunday services. I can’t tell you how nervous I was first time but thankfully it went well. I really enjoy the fact it’s a thinking game, thinking around timings and technique and there is so much more to learn as I progress.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone to have a go, if you like a challenge and want to learn the art of bell ringing and take part in something quite different, try it and I am quite certain you will love it and possibly become hooked liked me.
I asked my family if there was any history of bell ringing in my family, but alas it would appear I am the first, however I see this as great opportunity. I am now the trailblazer for the Westmoreland Family and hopefully will be the first of many, certainly my 2 young daughters are interested.
I heard about Ringing Remembers from another bell ringer in our group. I thought what a fantastic idea to commemorate those Bell ringers who were lost in the First World War and I had to be involved especially in such an important year as the centenary of the end of that awful conflict. The next day I registered.
Although I have no link to Bell Ringing I certainly do to the First World War, I am very proud to say my Great Grandfather Albert Terzza of the King Royal Rifles won the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty for his part in a battle at Cantalay, France in 1915, where he took up a machine gun post with one other holding back the advancing enemy. In the process, he was shot in the arm and leg, but fortunately survived.
Many stories of bravery came out from this war and it is a fitting tribute to the bell ringers that were lost to be remembered in this way by the Ringing Remembers campaign.
The Ringing Remembers campaign is recruiting 1,400 new bell ringers in memory of the 1,400 who lost their lives in World War One. All new recruits will have once in a life time opportunity to ring on Armistice Day (11 November) this year to mark 100 years since the end of the war. Find out more about the campaign and signup by visiting our Ringing Remembers project page.