Ringing World Vol 33, Iss 1411, p221-2,

April 1938 


  The chief difficulty in recruiting- new ringers is to find the material. Nearly everywhere the lament is that young people cannot be got to take an interest in ringing, because counter influences are so many that the belfry offers little or no attraction. Thus companies become depleted, and in some cases vanish for lack of new blood. The task of finding new material is unquestionably a very real one. It is gratifying, however, to read that at Ranmoor, an important suburb of Sheffield, a determined effort is to be made to overcome the difficulty, and it is more pleasing to find that the scheme has been put forward by the Vicar himself. The suggestion is that the choir should be made the reservoir upon which to draw for young ringers. The idea is not new, but it takes on a much more hopeful aspect when the action comes from the east end of the church instead of from the west end, and when the transition from the choir to the belfry takes place, as is proposed at Ranmoor, through a properly organised church channel.

  The scheme which has been put forward is the establishment of a guild of old choirboys, in order to retain their interest in church work after they are no longer able to take their places in the choir, and thus try to get them into the belfry as a means of maintaining touch with the church and continuing their service. Such an organisation should prove of considerable value, and we hope it may be copied elsewhere. There are, of course, a number of churches where bands are helped by the migration of boys from the stalls to the tower when their voices break, but it is done by the inducement of the ringers rather than the influence of the clergy. The Vicar of Ranmoor’s scheme would give it an official encouragement that ought to have good results.

  In the most successful case which we know of a band maintained for some years largely from the choir, the results have been achieved solely through the ringers, but the secret has been the continuous inflow of youth, so that newcomers do not find themselves alone in an age-stratum, if one may use such a term, in which there is no one with similar outlook. In this particular instance there are always three or four of an age, and these continue the companionship formed in the choir, and they grow up together in the art. That, it seems to us, would be a valuable feature of any scheme for bringing youth into the belfry. A solitary lad, among a band much older in years, and with, naturally, a totally different outlook, has little inducement to remain, unless he happens quickly to develop an unusual keenness for ringing; but a little group of young people brought along together will find something in common and with it, often, a desire to keep their connection with the tower. This policy has been pursued at Aldershot, and the band there numbers nearly thirty enthusiasts. What a vastly different prospect there would be before the Exercise if this kind of spirit spread throughout the many churches where the bells are of the easily handled type. Guilds such as that proposed at Ranmoor would give it just the encouragement that it needs.

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