ART’s 10th birthday: celebrate with ART’s Founder and Chair

An interview with Pip Penney and Lesley Belcher

In this special Anniversary episode, podcast host Cathy Booth has two special guests discussing both the beginnings and the future of ART. No, Cathy’s not exploring painting or sculpting, but a landmark development in the teaching of bell ringing. ART stands for the Association of Ringing Teachers, currently marking it’s tenth year. Founder member Pip Penney and current Chair, Lesley Belcher, celebrate the success of the scheme and its plans for the next three years.

Pip, a physiotherapist, combined her understanding of learning a physical movement with her experience of learning to ring, to help develop an innovative approach to teaching bell ringing. Ten year’s down the line, Pip’s fundamental training approach remains the same and new ART chair, Lesley, is focused on delivering these skills in new and exciting ways.

Not deterred by the pandemic, ART’s courses are very much in demand as new generations of ringing teachers make the grade and learners pass through ART’s Learning the Ropes scheme.

Find out what’s next in the story of ART and watch out for an explosion of new teachers, new ringers and celebratory ringing festivals coming soon!

About Pip Penney

Pip started ringing at the age of 47 as part of the Ring in the Millennium project and was not impressed with her early learning experiences! Her profession was physiotherapist, working in rehabilitation. She decided to bring her knowledge of teaching physical skills from the world of patient treatment to the teaching of bell handling.

In 2002 she became a member of the Central Council Education Committee and began developing the Ringing Practice Toolkit on- line teaching resource. She also started teaching young ringers putting her ideas into practise. Pip then started a group with other young ringers – January 2004 saw the inaugural meeting of Kids.Ring.Out.[KRO] This group communicated by e-mail, a newish idea within ringing at the time! KRO organised tours, outings and courses. The young ringers progressed well and in 2006 K.R.O. won the Founders Prize for the Encouragement of Young Ringers.

As the young ringers from KRO matured some of them approached Pip, asking her to teach them to teach bell handling. It was this experience which made her realise that new teachers would need mentoring until such time that they became competent and confident. This idea was later incorporated into the Integrated Teacher Training Scheme [ITTS] that Pip then developed: the first pilot course held October 2009.

Over the next few years the new teaching scheme grew The Association of Ringing Teachers [ART] as a professional body for those ringing teachers who were ITTS trained and accredited was established. Pip became the first Chairman of ART in 2012.

Since stepping down as Chairman of ART in 2016 Pip has published two books A Ringers’ Guide to Learning the Ropes and A Teachers’ Guide to Learning the Ropes. She has also worked with others on the development of a series of workshops, which can be presented nationwide by ART workshop leaders.

About Lesley Belcher

Having graduated with a degree in chemistry and picking up a PhD, Lesley spent 20 years working for BP in a number of commercial and technical roles covering the UK, Europe and the USA. Specialising in project and programme management Lesley is a qualified six-sigma black belt. She brings to ART a set of techniques and tools including process improvement, process design, strategy and change management.

Lesley comes from a ringing family; being taught by her grandfather as a youngster and ringing with her mother at Earl Shilton in Leicestershire. On moving away from home, Lesley rang with both the Durham University and the London University Society of Change Ringers, where she went on to be the society Treasurer and then Ringing Master. Lesley rang extensively in London on both tower and hand bells before leaving to work in the bell ringing wildness of France. This was the start of a twenty year break from ringing. She was attracted back to ringing after hearing a peal being rung in her (normally silent) local tower and now rings at Hanslope and Wicken. Within six months she found herself co-opted and elected to be a Ringing Deanery Leader of the North Buck Branch of the ODG; a role she held for three years. She is a member of the ODG Education Committee.

Lesley has been a member of the ART Management Committee for four years. Before becoming ART Chair, she was accountable for ART Operations, Communications and more recently IT.

Top 5 takeaways

  • Want to learn to ring with an ART teacher? Contact Rose who will help you find a teacher near you
  • Why not share the teaching in your tower – as well as sharing the load, learners get input from different teachers
  • Interested in learning to teach ringing the ART way? Check out the courses on their website
  • Look out for the Learning the Ropes Festival in Norwich on 20 August – more information coming soon
  • There are some great resources available on YouTube – for a start, check out ART’s channel at 


Click here for the transcript for this episode.

2 thoughts on “ART’s 10th birthday: celebrate with ART’s Founder and Chair

  1. Jill Belcher says:

    Three cheers for my daughter Lesley who is a dedicated and hard working member of ART. Keep up the good work.

  2. The Fun with Bells podcast says:

    Well said, Jill. We totally agree!

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