Mid-Devon Tower Talk - April 21

Branch presentation to a Guild Internet Arms virtual pub meeting


It was great to see a good representation of branch members at Cath's presentation. Another title could easily have been "the things you did not know that you did not know about the Mid Devon Branch". It was immediately obvious that she had really researched her subject. To cover her title "Moor to Sea" she started at Bovey Tracey and worked across the branch to the coastal towers and finished her virtual tour at Berry Pomeroy. For each location she gave a brief description of the bells and ringing as it existed before lockdown but then went on to describe some of the interesting features of each location. There was such a variety that the hour seemed to fly by and I am sure we all felt proud that we were members of this branch. I know that Cath is very grateful for all the suggestions and photographs she received from branch members and we in return can only say a heart-felt thankyou to her for such a fascinating insight to our area. We know that Guild members from outside the branch were equally impressed.

Martin Dodd

The sudden death of Martin on Good Friday has robbed the branch of its longest serving Tower Captain. Very few of us can remember a time when Martin was not at the helm at St Michael's Teignmouth. He has kept a band together since the 1960s – no mean feat. There was always a warm welcome to visitors, and we know that many holiday making ringers have returned over and over again because of the warmth of that welcome. He has taught very many ringers over that time and was also a branch officer being Branch Ringing Master in the 1970s. With Barbara to support him the Teignmouth outings became legendary – 5 or more towers and then a return to their house for supper. It was always a high spot of the day when, after a hard day's ringing, the tables would be heaving with delicious food and the day was rounded off with good fellowship. More recently these outings ended with a pub meal – often at the Smugglers but still forming a highlight of the day.

Martin was not a prolific peal ringer and his list shows that devotion to St Michaels that was such an important part of his life. Only the first of his five peals (Cambridge Minor at Torre for the Queen's Silver Jubilee) was not at St Michael's. Quarter peals were much more to his taste, and he rang many of them over the years. We have already mentioned the outings and he delighted in ringing at new towers. At present we do not have details but we know he must have rung at well over 1000. A particularly happy memory is the delight he so obviously felt after some superb ringing on the 14 bells at Winchester Cathedral – one of his last new towers.

Understandably the Teignmouth ringers have been devastated by this sudden loss. At the same time they are determined that ringing continues at the two Teignmouth Towers as soon as we are allowed back. Due to the covid restrictions only a small number were allowed inside the church for the funeral but a good representation of ringers was outside the church to greet the coffin and the rope of the tenor bell that he must have pulled on numberless occasions was on display on top of the coffin. The fifth bell was rung half muffled in support of Ann and family as the hearse arrived at the church All being well a more appropriate memorial service will be held towards the end of July. We will keep you informed and hope that many of you will be able to join the Teignmouth ringers and friends on this occasion.

Photo at https://photos.app.goo.gl/jSbjSGhv6buW71AS8 

Return and Recovery workgroup

This Guild group continues to be very active. Their work was well illustrated by a talk by Catherine Saunders at the Internet Arms on Monday 10th May. She started by describing Guild and branch activities prior to Covid and then went on to remind us what had been going on (a lot!!) during lockdown. Her main thrust was to explain the discussions held by the workgroup and to report on the work also being carried out nationally by the Central Council and Association of Ringing Teachers in particular. A recovery conference is currently taking place on line. Catherine has sent a comprehensive report of one of these sessions which is attached HERE.

Catherine gave some of the results of the surveys carried out by the group. The main gist is that experienced ringers feel reasonably confident to return but less experienced ringers will need some support. The main concern of many was recruitment which was a worry before Covid.

The good news is that limited ringing will soon be possible (Rule of six) and a more normal situation should return by the end of June. This time the ringing period will be extended to a maximum of 45 minutes and ringers will be able to swap ropes after hand sanitisation. She explained that replacing the air in the ringing room was one of the key issues this time. Although sophisticated measuring devices were available a much easier "rule of thumb" method was quite sufficient. This was the air spray test. If you use an air freshener spray in a room and then return and the smell (perfume!!) has disappeared, then the air in the room has been exchanged sufficiently.

Questions included the desirability for temperature tests and it was concluded that these offer very little useful information. One participant mentioned that she had suffered from covid but had none of the main symptoms and certainly no temperature. Another questioned if "immunisation passports" had been discussed and it was made clear that immunisation was not a condition of returning to the tower. It seemed a good idea to make sure all members of a band were happy to return and anyone who felt uncomfortable should be respected. It was mentioned that at least one member had stated that they would feel happier once they had received their first injection.

There were over 40 members present, showing the popularity of these Internet Arms sessions. At the end John Martin (Guild Secretary) told us that this was the last projected Monday evening meeting. He and Charlotte were warmly thanked for all the hard work they have put in to make these presentations so enjoyable.
There is another chance to see Catherine's talk on Saturday 15th May.

Bells in Music

Many of you will have enjoyed Janet Ritterman's talk on the way that composers have used bells as an inspiration for their work. We are delighted to hear that Janet has been invited to repeat it for other Guilds and the Worcester ringers were first in the queue last Monday! We are sure that they found her talk as interesting as Devon Guild members did.

Future events

Before very long we hope to return to "real" ringing and branch practices. It was felt that these should take the form of training events and requests have been made for "Raising and Lowering" (an old favourite!) and "Basic methods". Once we are clearer how we can proceed we will let you know dates and we will be keen to have experienced helpers.

An introduction to calling short touches

Several people have stated that they would be interested in trying some calling. We have put together a short introduction to calling which can be done "online". Please contact me if you are interested. I should emphasise that this is very basic and intended for those who are very new to calling. Part 2 is in preparation but that will include real ringing so can only take place once we return to our towers. The first part tries to be a gentle introduction to this important part of our ringing repertoire.
The session can be timed to suit individuals and should take no more than about 30 minutes. So – If you have every thought you might like to give conducting a try – get in touch!!!

Well, it looks as though an end is in sight and we really look forward to reporting real ringing – ringingroom is all very well but.....-look forward to hearing from you with any news or thoughts.