Saturday 19 July in Exeter
How many of us can look around our towers and say with confidence that the band will still be flourishing and ringing the bells in ten years' time? Sadly, very few of us. The ageing profile of ringers has been much discussed, with the statistics displayed in a worrying pattern that shows the future of ringing in a precarious state. We all know the scenario, or we think we do.
For, with effort and vision, many ringers are trying to change the way we all think about the future, trying to pinpoint where we have all gone wrong, and where we can go from here. Because gone wrong we all surely have – and that responsibility lies with all of us, in failing to recruit younger ringers and teach them well, in failing to retain them for the future. We need to motivate and include our younger ringers, showing them all they need to take the reins and carry ringing forward. We have all been guilty for too long of complacency, of settling for our comfortable band of contemporaries. And all the while the gap has been springing up, creating a chasm of lost ringers in their 20's, 30's and 40's who have never been engaged or drawn to join their local band, to enjoy the same ringing and take the same challenge and thrill of responsibility still yet held to this day by a now worryingly ageing core of ringers.
But it is not too late. We all care passionately about the future of ringing, about ensuring church bells will still be rung across this land in years to come. And if you feel passionately, if you are rightly aware of your duty to carry forward all you were taught when you were young, then you will come to Cardinal Newman House in Exeter on Saturday 19th July. Here, you will take part in a ground breaking Central Council seminar that has been touring the regions over the course of the year. Now, on your doorstep, you have the unique opportunity to listen to a range of speakers. Elva Ainsworth will draw our attention to the developing ringing trends; Les Boyce will introduce us to the Association of Ringing Teachers, and Integrated Teacher Training Scheme, which promises to revolutionise the experience of teaching and being taught forever. Roger Booth will describe the work of the Ringing Foundation, and Chris Mew will tell us about the latest Central Council initiatives and services that are available to us all. Additionally, guest speaker Mark Regan will enthuse us with the Worcester experience, and Chris Mew will detail the inspirational Birmingham School of Bell Ringing; both being examples of the most forward thinking and positive teaching methods currently in the forefront of ringing.
But the seminar is not just about listening and learning. It is called 'Have Your Say' for a reason; the Central Council are here to learn, to find out what is happening locally here in Devon, and there are group sessions throughout the day when you can discuss your problems, share your views and opinions, review initiatives and hopefully find a positive way forward. A way forward that could well lie within the topics we will be fortunate to have presented to us in Exeter; as well as the chance to meet ringers from neighbouring Guilds, to chat, to learn and to be inspired. We are extremely lucky to have this opportunity on our doorstep; please, can everyone come and join us and make the most of it. For the sake of the future of your tower.