Education Officer and RATS

On the formation of the Recruitment and Training Subcommittee (RATS) in 2014, the Education Officer became the chair of that subcommittee. Separate Education Officer reports for the years 2007 - 2013 are here. Education Officer and RATS reports for 2014 - 2018 (combined in some years and separate in others) are here.

Recruitment and Training Sub-Committee (RATS) Report 2021

Recruitment and Training

The year 2021 proved to again be an abnormal year for ringing. However, the Ely Diocesan Association (as far as education and training was concerned) has soldiered on and there were several highlights and successes. The RATS Committee had two main projects before the slow return to tower bell ringing in the Summer.

  • Ely DA Ringing Survey Lesley Boyle (with the help of the RATS Committee) put together a survey for all towers to complete to provide information about how towers felt they were ready when we were able to return to ringing and what support would be needed. This and other information given in the survey has been used as a focus for RATS activities in 2021 and to plan events for 2022. Thanks to those ringers who took the time to complete the survey.

  • Ely DA Roadmap to Ringing Recovery The RATS Committee released their own version of a Road Map to Ringing Recovery. This was based on the Guidelines for ringing in the pandemic as provided by the CCCBR. It included action points, where to get advice and dates about who, when and where ringing could take place in towers. It is a true reflection of the ever-changing times that we had reached version 5 by the time all restrictions of bands were lifted. See xxx for the various stages.

Getting Back to Tower Bell Ringing

This was a very gradual process and there are still many towers where (for various reasons) ringers are not back to ringing as they were before the Pandemic. I would like to thank Tom Ridgman and all the other bell inspectors who did a sterling job checking out many towers and belfries before the bells were rung. My thanks also to the experienced ringers who supported and encouraged the less confident ringers on their return to ringing. Many ringers were pleased (and pleasantly surprised) to find that they could still ring, but others needed just a little more practise to ring alone. And yes, experienced ringers could still ring Plain Bob Doubles!

Ely DA Ringing Centres

Stretham REC: Until restrictions were beginning to be lifted as we entered Stage 3 of the Roadmap to Ringing Recovery in May, ringing was confined to Ringing Room. Stretham REC ran three sessions a week for various abilities of tower bell ringers. We also found that we were able to cover a lot of theory which in a normal practice is not always possible.

By the Summer quite a few towers were able to start regular ringing and initially (from July) Stretham REC offered session for those who were lacking in confidence with their bell-handling and the opportunity to practice ringing rounds and basic exercises such as Mexican Wave, Switch-a-roo and Call Changes.

Since August, the teaching of new students has been going well. Currently we have six new ringers at various stages of getting through their ART Level 1 and two students who passed their Level 1 in September. These students now stay onto the second session on a Saturday where we cater for a variety of activities ranging from call changes to Plain Hunt to Plain Bob depending on the ability of the students.

Walsoken, Wisbech Teaching Group: After a slow start, Bob Cox, and Jeanette Cox are now back to holding regular training practises at Walsoken for ringers in the Wisbech District. Much enthusiasm is shown, and good progress is being made.

St Clements Ringing Centre in Cambridge: Steady progress has been made. The bells have been cast and the transformation of the tower into an attractive place to learn to ring is well under way.

ART M1 Course at Stretham and M1 Catch Up

In October, David Sparling came along to run a successful ART M1 teaching ringing course at Stretham REC. Lesley Boyle (Local ART Representative and Course Tutor) and myself are very keen to catch up with those ringers who in the past have undertaken the M1 course, but for whatever reason have not become accredited – you have been warned! We have the names of several people who would like to learn to ring at the REC and now is a good opportunity to refresh your teaching skills alongside the support of our experienced teachers at the REC.

RATS Training Day

For the RATS Training Day in October most of the sessions were based in the Ely District with two in the Cambridge District – thank you to those ringers who came along to support or participate. There are plans to hold a Training Day in Autumn 2022 based in the Huntingdon or Wisbech District.

Cluster Groups

The idea of ringing in cluster groups came from the ART Champion meetings which were started up to share ideas and support the return to ringing after lockdown. A cluster group consists of members from a few towers in the same area, who meet up and ring at one of the tower’s practice nights once a month. This guarantees a practice with more experienced ringers present to encourage good progress of all ringers. We have been trialling clusters in the Ely District and it has really helped bands which have found themselves lacking in numbers on the return to ringing when restrictions were lifted.

Ely DA Handbell Group

What started as a small group of ringers who wished to practice handbells online has become the highly successful Saturday morning Ely DA Handbell group. This has met regularly since February with up to twenty student ringers and experienced teachers from across the Diocesan. Lesley Boyle and I have learnt how to (mostly) use break out rooms on Zoom to ensure ringers get the practice they need each week. Several quarters have been achieved and we have managed one in person get together.

Ely DA Young Ringers

It is regrettable to report that the Ely DA did not enter a team at the RWNYC in September. Most members before the Pandemic had moved on and 2022 will have a restart for the group. Please let Dee Smith know the names (and parent contact details) of any Young Ringers at your towers who would be interested.

Recruitment, Recruitment, Recruitment!

This is being written in January 2022 and things are looking quite positive for getting back to the usual ringing routines that we had before the pandemic. Across the Ely DA, many local inhabitants expressed their delight at hearing the church bell ringing out again, but I am very much aware of the need for more ringers in our towers. The RATS Committee will be offering ideas and support for your recruitment campaign – why not hire the Ely DA Mobile Bell, Banner or Display boards for your event? In 2022 we need ringers to ring for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the re-organisation of the Ely DA!

May I thank everyone for all their support, patience, and enthusiasm for keeping ringing going in these challenging times. This especially includes all the members of the RATS Committee who have given a lot of their time to the committee activities in 2021.

Dee F Smith


Recruitment and Training Sub-Committee (RATS) Report 2020

Recruitment and Training

The 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic certainly presented its challenges in the recruitment and training of bell-ringers throughout the year. However, ringers are a resourceful lot and despite the Lockdown restrictions on bell-ringing, achievement and progress was made in several areas.

The key event was the development of the Ringing Room website by Leland Paul Kusmer and Bryn Reinstadler. Ringers who regularly used Ringing Room found that the platform put all ringers on the same level. In fact, less experienced ringers on several occasions, were better that more experienced ones! Ringers also rang on higher numbers and far more advanced methods than they normally would have had the opportunity to experience.

By the end of 2020, all districts were keeping in contact in a variety of ways. For example, the Cambridge District were holding Zoom meeting question and answer sessions and the Hunts District held Learner Ringing Room Practices.

Recruitment was possible in 2020. Several ringers ‘learnt to ring’ during the pandemic on Ringing Room, being trained at Stretham REC. It will be very interesting to see how they get on when they finally ring tower bells.

One area of training that was embraced was the opportunity to take up ringing on handbells. This was spurred on by Graham John’s eBells being manufactured (400 pairs sold by the end of 2020). These are 3D printed, weighted electronic handbells that can be rung on Ringing Room and Handbell Stadium.

Throughout the year, ART offered several opportunities to support ringers in Lockdown. This included training sessions on running a Ringing Room Practice and different ringing related activities to try at home. ART even produced a version of their ‘50 Ringing Things’ scheme called 50 Ringing Things to do in Lockdown.

Cambridge District put on regular webinars on a variety of ringing topics. The Ely DA are indebted to David Richards who was responsible for co-ordinating and managing these excellent presentations.

Ely DA Ringing Centres

Stretham REC Ringing Room, by the end of 2020 was running four sessions each week, ranging from ‘Beginners to Bell-ringing’ to ‘How to Ring Spliced methods’. The monthly theory sessions were well attended, and it was found to be much easier to deliver topics such as place notation and place bells to an audience sitting at home watching a screen, rather than in a very cold ringing room! Two sessions per week were devoted to improving handbell ringing with extra groups meeting weekly during the day.

There was good news from Barry Johnson about the St Clement’s Ringing Centre. The Faculty was finally obtained in 2020 and they are now just over halfway towards the target of £200,00 required to start the project. The target for fully equipping and running the project as an education centre is £250,00 and it is hoped that work will be started at some point in 2021. It is planned that the treble bell will be cast in memory of Felicity Webster. Thanks are given to Barry Johnson who has contributed much time and effort towards the planning and progress of this project which will be an excellent facility for the Cambridge area and the Ely Diocesan.

Ely D A Young Ringers – The Fen Tigers

Cecilia Pipe stepped down as one of the Co-ordinators of the Young Ringers. The General Committee thanked her for all the organising she has undertaken for the Young Ringers, especially with the annual RWNYC. David Pipe is happy to continue to help run the Young Ringer sessions and I will oversee the administration. We are hoping that there will be an adult (or possibly a young ringer) representative for the Young Ringers for each district which would help improve the contact with Young Ringers across the Ely Diocesan Association. The representative would support the young ringers in their district and help organise transport to Young Ringers events.

The RWNYC was cancelled for this year and it was not possible to hold the monthly Young Ringers practices at Histon due to the ringing restrictions.

Returning to Ringing in 2021

During Lockdown, ART and the CCCBR formed a Survival and Recovery group which provided updates on what ringing was possible during the Pandemic. In 2021 this group aims to support bell ringing on the return to normal ringing.

Members of the RATS committee are very much aware that when we finally are allowed up the towers there will be much work to be done. Bell ringing bands will possibly not be the same, some ringers will have decided not to return for various reasons, whilst others will be worried about pulling off for the first time for many months. The RATS committee will be providing ways to support returning ringers and suggestions for events and ideas to recruit new bell ringers.

I would like to thank all members of the Ely DA who have supported ringing either online or in the towers in 2020. I look forward to ringing with you in person in 2021.

Dee F Smith

Recruitment and Training Sub-Committee (RATS) Report 2019

Membership of the RATS committee in 2019 was: Dee Smith (current Chair), Martin Kitson (previous Chair), Nicholas Small (Treasurer), Tom Pinnock (Secretary and Huntingdon Rep), Lesley Boyle (ART Rep Ely District), Barry Johnson (St Clement’s Church – the forthcoming Cambridge Teaching Centre and Young Ringers), Martin Slough (Wisbech District), Nick Carver (Ely District) Louise Dobson (Stretham REC) and Phil Bailey (Ely District).

The RATS looks after these main areas:

    • Young Ringers – currently organised by Cecilia and David Pipe as ‘The Fen Tigers’.

    • Ringing and Teaching Hubs: Stretham REC, Walsoken, Cambridge University Guild

    • Association-relevant Training events, such as Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) workshops and teacher training modules, and other training events.

    • Supporting Association wide recruitment and training, and other relevant events, with expertise and funding

The Fen Tigers had a successful day at the Ringing World National Youth Contest, held in Liverpool. In the method section they achieved a Grade 5. Special thanks go to Cecilia and David Pipe for all the support and organisation of getting the team together and sorting out arrangements for the weekend. For future RWNY Contests the RATS have agreed to contribute to the cost of travel and accommodation for competitors.

Young Ringers Practices are held at Histon in the afternoon on the first Sunday of the month. If you are a Young Ringer (under 19 years of age) and can ring rounds and call changes, please do come along.

The Stretham REC Committee consists of Stephen Setter (Manager), Louise Dobson (Administrator), Dee Smith (Chair), Catherine Simcock, Lesley Boyle, Nicholas Small, Martin Kitson and Phil Bailey. The focus this year has very much been supporting the ringers who started or returned in response to the Ringing Remembers Campaign. This has included ringers from Brinkley, Great Wilbraham, Triplow and other towers in the Diocese. The Saturday morning session is very popular and covers the skills ranging from Bell-handling up to Plain Hunt. The Wednesday evening session also provides support for ringers up to Level 3 on the ART LtR scheme. Other courses held at the REC have included a Beyond Bob Minor course, introduction to Plain Hunt and Raising and Lowering.

The Walsoken Hub continues to be very active in teaching up to Level 3. This includes the 8 new ringers who were recruited through the successful Wisbech Open Days and have benefited from the support and expertise available at Walsoken.

In Cambridge a new teaching hub has been set up – the Cambridge University Guild ART Hub which is based over several towers.

The Cambridge Ringing Centre, which will be based at St Clements Church, is making steady progress. It is hoped that the faculty of the project will be granted in March 2020. Meanwhile fundraising has been ongoing to raise £250,000 to cover the costs for the project.

ART events have continued throughout the year and have included an all day Learning the Ropes Festival in Norwich, and M1 and M2 Workshops. The Ely DA were very successful in the Annual ART Awards events achieving three awards:

    • Cambridge University Guide – University Society that has made a Significant Contribution to Promoting Ringing to Younger People

    • Lesley Boyle- For Inspiring Leadership in Ringing

    • Jimmy Yeoman – Learning the Ropes Achievement Award.

In my first year as RATO I have tried to visit all the districts in the Diocesan. I have been really impressed by the commitment of many ringers who are providing training for ringers at different stages. New ventures such as the Project Pickled Egg are being tackled and now there is the new Pathways Campaign which caters for a wider range of ability. Do contact your district secretary or myself if you require details of any training events.

As this is being written, I know that towers are recruiting to ring for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on 8th May and VJ Day on 15th August. To help recruitment events we do have a mobile bell, a banner and information boards to help on the day.

In the absence of a Safeguarding Officer may I remind ringers that every tower Captain in the Diocese must complete C0, C1 and C2 training modules and to be aware of Safeguarding issues when teaching Young People and Vulnerable Adults.

May I take this opportunity to thank all those who are involved with the teaching or are supporting the training of our ringers.

Dee F Smith