Bells on the Move - Lincoln Guild Ringing Simulators
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The Sixbel in use at Bicker in September 2007
The following article appeared in The Ringing World:
“Bells on the Move” was the name given to the Guild’s Application for a grant from the Awards for All Lottery fund. It all started back in 2005, when a set of six dumb bells connected to a computer was installed in a garage at Saxilby. This was designed, engineered and built by David Horrocks with help from Tom Blyth. When David had to sell the house, an idea was mooted that the Guild should buy the ring of 6, and build a portable tower - which could then be transported to various events, where it could be used to gain publicity for ringing, recruit new ringers and could be used as a teaching tool.
Following branch and Guild AGMs, it was agreed we should go ahead with the project, and that money would be sought from various grant making bodies. A lot of form filling followed, but it was worth it when we heard in September 2006 that we had been granted all the money we had applied for from the Awards for All Lottery fund. Following further consultation with David Horrocks, he kindly agreed that, rather than build a new portable tower, we should buy the radial frame with its spectacular parasol which David had engineered for the Ringing Roadshow at Newbury.
On April 21st 2007 the 6 bell simulator arrived in Stow church and David showed a group of people from across the Guild how to erect it. Visitors to the church stood and watched in amazement whilst it was going up and a number came back to listen and watch when it was tried out for the first time. The following Saturday the Simulator was put to use following the Guild striking competition at the AGM. About 70 people tried out the simulator on that day. One young girl, who lives near the church, was so hooked that she spent all afternoon mastering the bells. By the time it came to close up the church she was ringing her bell unaided in rounds.
The following Monday and Tuesday afternoons pupils from the nearby Primary School came to try out the simulator. The Headteacher had kindly agreed that the Year 5 and 6 pupils could spend an afternoon each with us. Following a short introductory talk about the history of bells and bellringing, the 28 pupils were split into three groups. One group were taught to handle a bell on the simulator, whilst another group played tunes on belle plates and the third group rang rounds and queens, and “lapped” changes on handbells. Each group swapped activity after about 25 minutes. All the activities were designed to give instant success, and kept them very busy. They all had the chance to ring both handstroke and backstroke, and a few quicker ones were able to ring both strokes together within their time.
Before they left, the pupils were all given a Central Council leaflet and a local contact phone number if they wanted to find out more. Teachers and pupils were very grateful for the experience. Press photographers and a journalist visited the event which led to some nice publicity in the local papers. This was also picked up by a national weekly paper. The nine ringers who helped out over the two days felt that it had been very worthwhile, and that the format could easily be repeated at future events
(The following is an update)
Since the AGM, the Simulator has spent 2 weeks at Lincoln Cathedral where it was used for the Church Schools' Festival. Year 6 pupils from all over the County spent a day at the Cathedral taking part in various activities, one of which was spending an hour learning to ring on the Simulator. Nearly 100 pupils had this opportunity and it proved to be very popular. We had many interesting comments left in the visitors book by the youngsters. The simulator has been booked by the Cathedral staff for a similar event in September, and again next year at the Church Schools' Festival.
Meanwhile the Wombel has been up and down the county, making appearances
at Messingham Show, Irnham for the Rotary club, Market Rasen Racecourse
for the Guides and Brownies Festival, Sutton St Edmund Church fete, and
Welbourn for ringing workshops at their village fete.
The Wombel in action
More information about forthcoming appearances of both simulators can be found in the "Borrowing" document.