What should you do if the number of ringers is falling, your towers are in dire straits, and you need emergency measures to give ringing any kind of future in your area?
This was the problem faced in the Lizard in Cornwall prior to COVID lockdown, and in this episode, podcast host Cathy Booth talks to the team who, against all the odds, have turned the situation around.
The first step, is seems, is to find a Hayley, Miranda, Andy, and someone called Bob who has lots of mojo! By coming together as a tightknit team with the right set of skills, the Lizard ringers have created a successful hub for ringing recovery, recruitment and teaching.
Left to right: Andy Smith, Hayley Young (on video call), Robert Woods and Miranda Penhaligon.
Once you have someone to work on the spreadsheets and strategy, someone who seems to know everyone in the local community, someone who wants to teach and someone who wants to learn to teach, then everything else falls into place.
Add Facebook, fun and cake into the mix and local ringing will not only recover but may even experience a resurgence! A very inspiring yet practical podcast for all those struggling with empty towers and cancelled practice nights.
Top 5 Takeaways
- Don’t forget the church organist, they’re musical after all! Lure them up the tower and they’ll get hooked.
- If you’ve a group of learners, why not set up a Facebook group where you can update them weekly, and share news, learning tips and celebrate their successes.
- What are the success factors of a teaching hub? Find a church that’s central to where your learners are, remote enough not to bother the neighbours, with easy bells, a ground floor ring, plenty of parking and electricity for refreshments. Oh, and add cake!
- If you have ringers who would make good teachers, then get them signed up to an Association of Ringing Teachers course.https://events.bellringing.org/courses-for-teachers
- Think strategically – work with your deanery to focus your recruitment efforts on churches with healthy congregations to protect against church closures.
Sponsor: This podcast is sponsored by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART). To find out more about learning to ring, learning to teach or other resources to support your ringing go to bellringing.org.
MIRANDA: It is grim, but there's glimmers of hope because it does seem to work. So yeah, we just need to keep on going and get that mojo going and realighted like Bobs.
[Bells ringing rounds]
CATHY: Cornwall is a peninsula with 148 ringable sets of four bells or more. The Truro Guild did quite a lot in lockdown with a series of virtual meetings and they realised that there was a need for a ringing recovery programme after COVID. Today we're going to be discussing the recovery project for the southernmost corner of Cornwall, which is called the Lizard Peninsula. I have four guests with me. Please, can you introduce yourselves?
HAYLEY: Hello. My name is Hayley Young. I am Secretary of the TDGR and I'm also Truro Cathedral Ringing Master.
MIRANDA: I'm Miranda Penhaligon. I'm the Secretary of the Western District of the TDGR. So that's the most western-est, western part, including the Isles of Scilly. And I ring at St Buryan.
BOB: My name is Bob Woods. I'm a Ringer at Helston and also Wendron. I'm also the chair of the western area of the TDGR since last March. And basically, my main role since being in the chair is to be the lead on the Lizard Recovery Project.
ANDY: Hello. I'm Andy Smith. Retired bean counter, long time bell ringer. Moved to Cornwall about three and a half years ago, now vice master at Truro Cathedral and for my sins, being an ex-bean counter, I'm Treasurer of Truro. But more importantly to today's session everybody thinks I have some knowledge of training and teaching.
CATHY: Hayley before we get on to the recovery project, one thing I can see was there was a lot of work done by the Guild during lockdown and one of the projects was the Guild website and the QR Code Project, which intrigues me. So I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about what that is?
HAYLEY: Yeah, no problem. During the lockdown, myself and Carolyn, we got together with "Come On, the guild should be doing something to keep its members together during lockdown." So we tried to do a like a fun Zoom session every Sunday evening at 8 o clock, which we did really good. Lots of different subjects, something for everybody. And one of them was to involve our public relations officer, Jane McCutchan at the time. And she was wanting to do like a virtual treasure hunt. A number of us got together, including Owen Borlase and his partner Sarah, and she came up with an idea of doing some geo cash things and also linking them in with QR codes. And we also got to discover at the same time that Eric Bannister had been making recordings of Cornish church bells for the last 30 years, and he had this archive which we could dip in and out of. We ran a couple of quizzes just using his little snippets of recordings, but we thought actually we should probably be putting these in an archive forever. So the website was actually created many years ago, before my time of secretary, and Martin Spittle has done an amazing job with his admin team to put all the recordings actually onto the tower pages of the TDGR website. It's made it really interactive and people can access them. They don't have to log in or anything. They can listen to the bells at any time because we were all really missing the sound of the bells at the time. So it was a lovely project to do. And without Martin and his team and Eric making the initial recordings, we'd never would have done it. So I'm really grateful to them.
CATHY: And I think it's great. Your area has a map, which is filterable by practice night as well as by tenor weight and number of bells. I think that's quite exciting. And then the QR codes are ones that you've got in church porches or a church window so that people can scan and hear the bells of their local church.
HAYLEY: That's right. Yeah. We did a bit of a demo with just as an example, my husband Jonathan did one of Ladock Church where we live and just a little video of him just scanning a QR code and it would bring up the tower page on the TDGR website when he scanned it, and then there was an option to listen to the bells. So it was just good fun. Not every tower has done it by any means, but it's there and it's technology that anyone can have and use for free at their own disposal.
CATHY: So coming out of COVID, what's ringing looking like in Cornwall? Hayley, would you like to talk about that? And then we'll talk about the Western District specifically.
HAYLEY: So it's looking really hopeful. There are still some gaps in towers that have not returned to ringing or regular ringing. Wherever I seem to see ringing, it's going well. There are huge challenges really, because we were probably in a bit of a desperate situation if all truth was told before COVID happened and I say to the Guild Standing Committee, if I was going to put something into special measures it would be us, because we need to be taking more action on recruitment and retention and making things more fun and suitable for all ages in ringing down here. Yeah, that's been my mantra really from very early on.
CATHY: And Miranda, can you tell me a little bit about what ringing was looking like in the Western District?
MIRANDA: Well it was Bob that started putting a flag up that, the Lizard area in particular, he had this feeling in his waters that the towers were in a dire strait. And I have to admit, I think we'd all been thinking that as well. But he had contacted me and Hayley. We started ringing them up and actually getting the facts. So I love spreadsheets, we put together a spreadsheet of who was doing what in which tower, and yeah, even before COVID, there were towers that hadn't been ringing or the tower captains just lost their mojo. Some of them are fairly old, the tower captains, some are in their eighties, couple in the nineties, and I have nothing against elderly tower captains at all. But these guys had just needed a bit of help actually, they did need some help. We knew something had to be done. Yeah, we collected the statistics for it, but it was just not looking very good and worse in the Lizard, the distances you have to travel, it might only be like some five miles in terms of a crow, but it takes you 20 minutes to get somewhere in the car. But it's just so difficult. You've got all these creeks and hills and crazy places to get from A to B. It's not easy.
CATHY: Bob, can you tell me about the Lizard Recovery Project?
BOB: Yes. And by all means it was born out of really a boredom of myself because we went into lockdown in March 2020 and we went a period of time without ringing. Then we were allowed to do a little bit of ringing with three bells and four bells. And where I am, we've got eight and a six bells at Helston and Wendron. And it just seemed all a little bit, I have to say, a bit pointless ringing three bells and four bells. At that time I was aware, pre the COVID situation coming about, of the Lizard towers in particular having a lacking in numbers of ringers pre-COVID. It was one wet afternoon I was here when I thought, "let's ring a few of the towers, the captains or the secretaries up and just find out what they are doing, if anything now we're ringing three bells and ringing four bells and just put the feelers out to see what was happening further south." Where we are in case you're not aware, there is in the Kerrier area. That's the Helston-Lizard area. There were a total of 11 towers with ringable sets of bells. And I've added up the bells to be in 76 in all, in those 11 towers. Having contacted either the tower captains or the secretaries of each of these towers it come to notice rather alarmingly, that once COVID had not moved on, but once we were allowed to open up the towers more fully of those 11 towers with 76 bells, there was only going to be 36 ringers returning to the 11 towers.
BOB: And I was obviously aware that at Helston I heard 12 of those ringers and Constantine had between six and eight returning. So that was 20 in two towers, leaving only a mere 15 ringers for the other 9 towers. And having spoken to the captains and the secretaries of these towers, it was apparent that they were quite happy to continue what I call tolling or just chiming one bell on a Sunday morning for the services rather than ring six or try to ring anything up to six bells, eight bells if they had an eight bell peal there. Long term it's not what I call a recovery and practices, it was non-existent barring Helston and Constantine, all the other towers completely on the Lizard had shut out their practice evenings and practice sessions. As a result of collating those figures quite alarmingly, the fact is there was only going to be 16 ringers between 9 towers. I obviously was concerned about that and I spoke. I can't remember if it was Miranda first or Hayley.
BOB: I think I sent the message to Hayley first, making her aware that I was somewhat concerned on the Lizard area as to the state of what was going to happen once we did all return to the towers. Following speaking to Hayley, I must say I had not had a great deal of contact with the Guild, the Truro main Guild, but I was impressed with the amount of support and contact I had back, which was positive and very supportive of what I had actually researched and spent time doing and raised the concerns. As a result of that Miranda, who now is my secretary for the Western area, got involved as well, and we did then pull together a number of Zoom meetings that has followed on from there, that with the assistance of Andy from the cathedral, we were able eventually to pull together what I call a hub for a proper recovery and recruitment and teaching of new recruits at Wendron, which is just outside of Helston. It's fairly isolated, no one is going to get upset or disturbed by the noise of the bells clanging, chiming or whatever you like to call it, ringing together, a number of them clashing and ringing together. I had the approval of our local canon, Canon Miller and the PCC at Wendron, and as a result of that eventually the Wendron teaching hub was born.
BOB: It has taken a fair amount of work to actually pull it all together because it just doesn't happen without hard work and commitment from everyone that's been involved with me on setting it up. It isn't just turning up and ringing a bell. Obviously it needs planning, you need a format. You obviously got to have pupils or students, as I call them. You need to work out a proper teaching programme, recreation, all the facilities that go with a winter's morning at Wendron and we did eventually pull together. It was a total of 12 new students as a result of myself identifying from contacts, mainly through Facebook, all friends and contacts on Facebook and people I knew in the town here, I had quite a lot of people expressed an interest in what was happening and I kept in contact with those 12, basically targeted the 12, and we identified that these people would be prepared to come along when we eventually started off. We identified a Saturday morning as being the best time for most of the students and also the teachers. And it went well with the Wendron Church as well. We started on October 2021 and we have now had, I believe it to be 19 Saturday sessions.
CATHY: Miranda what would you like to say?
MIRANDA: It's just, one thing about Wendron, lovely tower with six bells. They've only had one ringer for the last couple of years, so they've suddenly gone from one ringer up to, you know, a whole tower full. It's just amazing.
CATHY: And why was Wendron chosen as the hub?
BOB: Wendron was chosen because it seemed to be in the centre of where I was trying to pool the recruits and the students from. It's a little, out of town church, easy peal of bells and it's ground floor with plenty of fresh air. Bearing in mind that we still had the pandemic evident, we needed to make sure that there was a safety aspect and the facilities are good there, fresh air, they can leave the doors open, parking, etc. etc. And we've got electricity for refreshments and all that sort of thing there. And they're easy six bells to ring as well.
CATHY: So you mentioned that you used Facebook and people you knew.
CATHY: That's how you recruited. Were there any other ways that people in Cornwall have recruited people?
MIRANDA: Yes, certainly. For St Keverne, the tower captain there. I think she was just having holding a practice and the organist was practicing as well and I think she asked the organist to stop in a polite way and asked the organist would they like to come and see what they were doing. And actually by a bit of craftiness, I think she hooked the organist because the organist was amazed at how fabulous these things were and then other people would come up and Helen is just a very chatty person. She just said, you know, "Come and have a look. Come and have a look." So from just chatting to people, I know lots of people say you should do this, but she's just done it. "Come and have a look, come and have a play and then let's go to the pub afterwards." She's made them have a lot of fun and she recruited five people just from chatting to people in the village. And this is a small village, a lovely 10 bell tower.
CATHY: So get out there and chat to people is the message.
CATHY: What do you think is critical for a project like the Lizard Recovery Project to succeed? Andy?
ANDY: A thing that's grown over a rather extended period of time because of COVID, with the four of us on this interview have, I think, gelled very well as a little project team that we've got to know each other over Zoom and meeting face to face. But I think we've been a little bit lucky and probably some of this down to Bob's efforts particularly, we've just gelled I think with the learners or the students and a little bit of luck, perhaps a bit of craftiness by Bob, but we're having fun. We seem to have gelled as a group, both teachers and students, so I think not all projects are necessarily going to get that. But the fun we've had and Hayley and I have exchanged that, this is great fun. We love doing this on a Saturday morning, whereas sometimes you can get into a teaching situation where it can be a bit of a grind on a cold winter's evening sort of thing, but with a lot of fun cake and coffee and all the rest of it. I think that's been the success really. It's not just the activity of bell ringing, the people have got to get on.
CATHY: Yes. So you've made it fun and you think that's down to the characters involved as well as the enthusiasm that you've all obviously got for this. Yes. And cake. Somebody mentioned cake. That sounds like a good plan. Miranda, did you want to say something there?
MIRANDA: Yeah, certainly cake was very important, and there was designated cake makers. I think Hayley's husband probably gets the prize for this, but yeah, cake was very important. But also Andy and Hayley managed to get help from other teachers and also other helpers. We needed a few, I hesitate to call them normal ringers, but who can fit in amongst the learners in rounds and stuff. So we had a lot of enthusiastic helpers and that, that was great.
HAYLEY: Yeah, I would just say that it's been an enormous amount of fun and I love the Saturday morning sessions at Wendron. It's been one of the best things I've ever done in my life actually. Really good fun. And the baking has been a lot of fun as well. And poor old husband, Jonathan has been up late on a Friday night prepping cakes for the Saturday morning, but he's loved it as well actually, and he's been amazed at the progress we've made and really quick progress as well. And I think it's been an amazing project to be a part of. I'm just really grateful to Bob and his mojo For me, it's been about connecting the people with the right knowledge and expertise. So at the time when we were planning all this, I had never taught anybody to ring and I wanted to, but I had never done it. But I knew that Miranda was amazing with the spreadsheets and the admin and the passion to get it going. And Bob was brilliant with recruiting people and the people he knew, and we connected Andy into the mix because we knew he would be able to teach or to teach us how to teach. So it worked really well then. It's just making the connections, isn't it, in the local area. And I think in Cornwall, unless you ask people to do something, they won't do it. And that's probably the same in any place really. People like to be asked.
BOB: Yes. I just wanted to add to that. We have made it fun. But I think in addition to that, I must mention that the fact is that after each weekly session, I've created a Wendron Church bell ringing hub Facebook page, and I update that every Saturday afternoon to keep the students, and I think the teachers are also part and parcel of the hub Facebook page and group. So I think it's important that we feedback each week to keep what's what I call a "what's on and what's happened". Sense of purpose moving forward each week. Because bearing in mind that some people are faster at learning, some people are dragging a little bit behind. I just think it's nice to keep everyone on board and it's just reaching that. You just need to get that right line is to what you put on your Facebook page to keep everyone progressing forward.
CATHY: So you've got a Facebook group, a little community around the Saturday ringing sessions that you've got.
CATHY: That's, that's good to keep the cohesion, isn't it, to keep everybody there.
CATHY: Andy training.
ANDY: The story for me starts well before the Wendron project. So I'd recently moved to Cornwall. I was at the time the Central Council Treasurer and at one of the Central Council executive meetings in London. I had already said to Simon and the Executive that I wanted to stand down as Treasurer because I'd spent all my life bean counting both professionally and in volunteer roles, and I thought, well actually I think I've got something to give in terms of actually training people in my sort of bell ringing. So I said to Simon, I said, "I want to get on back on the front line and actually teach people because I thought I had some background in it. Having rung for over 40 years in Dorset, during which time I did my ART level one and I'd also previous to ART done quite a bit of teaching anyway, so I felt confident enough to bring both that sort of experience to Cornwall where I was now living. So then we'd heard about the four of us getting together over Zoom during lockdown and all the rest of it, planning Wendron and the Lizard project. And I thought, this is sort of exactly what I was talking to Simon Linford about. This is what I want to get involved in? I didn't really expect when I was speaking to Simon that I was going to be teaching 12 people just like that.
ANDY: I thought it'd be one on ones and twos here and there. So it was with some trepidation that we started off, as Bob said, last October, as I walked across the school playground through the graveyard and past the cows over the difficult road to cross and thinking, I've got 12 students to teach I haven't met before.[Laughs] So there was a bit of you know, you do a bit of a lesson plan and that goes out the window as soon as you go in the church and all the rest of it. But there was not only the aim of teaching the raw recruits that Bob had somehow coerced along, but as Hayley I think hinted at earlier in this interview, there was very few who felt confident of actually teaching. There was quite a number of competent ringers such as Hayley, but they hadn't really done too much either nil or not much teaching. So I had a sort of twin-pronged attack, which was basically my lesson plan was follow my leader if you like. I would demonstrate something using the ART bell down method, which we actually found very useful because it was bell down. So you don't get that "I'm going to hit, stay and break it problem straight away." And I think the teachers or the fledgling teachers felt more comfortable doing it that way.
ANDY: So it was the old method of, well, I'm half a page of you ahead of you in the script, I teach you the next bit and then move on from there. So it was quite ambitious, but I think it's worked fairly well, bringing all recruits along but also bringing the fledgling teachers along such that they're much more confident now. And actually my aim throughout the Wendron project is to make myself redundant, which was, I think I'm nearly done. I go back to Wendron now and again, but not every week because it's about delegation. You can't hope to teach everybody, raw recruits and teachers. You've got to bring on other teachers and get that sort of family tree of trickle down of knowledge going. And it's only something I've done on a number of other occasions in what we call train the trainer sessions outside of the project. So we've only seven ART Teachers, Association Ringing Teachers in Cornwall. Obviously there are a few others who are of who are teaching but not through ART. But I think that just indicates the sparseness of Cornwall in terms of ringing. But it's something about trying to get more who can then train. Then you get this family tree effect and trickle down, which I think is important.
MIRANDA: Just to say that for me it was great to go to Wendron anyway. Obviously they were fabulous to teach, but I was getting the double whammy of getting Andy to train me. Well, I was one of the ones that done the ART M1 and M2 course, and I had been doing some training at my own tower. I'd got no mentor or anything, so I didn't know if I was damaging them in some way. And Andy gave me a fabulous confidence. Yeah, I just can't say how much it's done for me in terms of confidence for training now.
CATHY: And what is it you get out of teaching people to ring? Why is it that you do that?
ANDY: I think obviously I've rung a number of peals and quarter peals you get satisfaction out of that. But I think I've actually got almost more satisfaction out of doing, say, these Saturday morning sessions. You say "that session went pretty well" and you actually get the same sort of buzz that you get having scored perhaps a peal or a quarter peal in a complicated method. So to me, I enjoyed training as much as going quarter pealing.
MIRANDA: I'm not an experienced ringer at all. I don't do peals and stuff. It's terrifying, but I found it really hard to get training myself. I came from the old school where you were trained by the tower captain and the tower captain, brilliant ringer, but for whatever reason, maybe I was just thick or I couldn't understand. I did not know how to learn how, to get any improvement. And I was just told, Oh, it'll come in time. I caught up with the ART course. I'm not sure how. I thought, "bloody hell, it doesn't have to be like this." These poor people can get trained in a logical, reasonably fast fashion. And this is what's given me a buzz to try and help people not suffer the way I suffered.
CATHY: Hayley, did you want to say anything about training?
HAYLEY: I really enjoy teaching people skills, and that's probably to do with my job as well. I'm quite process driven and I really quite like teaching people the skill of ringing and when they say they can feel the bell through the rope, they can feel how to correct things and what to do next. It's a really lovely buzz, isn't it? You get back from them. It's like looking in the mirror, really. It's really good when they respond in a positive way to what you've taught them. And again, with the trainer, trainer events that we've done from the Guild perspective in giving people confidence to teach other people just to refresh their skills at teaching, I think that's been really, really great. To walk out of one of those sessions and think, Well, actually we've inspired up to eight more people potentially to go and teach other people in their towers. And we've always advocated you try and do it as a group. It's a lot more fun as a group and you can have a laugh, have some cake, make it fun. And a group teaching session is a lot more fun than just 1 to 1 stuff all the time and squeezing it in a practice night. I think the key is to bring other people along and make sure you can empower them really, and give them the confidence they need to succeed and carry on. Giving them faith in themselves really, and ask them to do it and push them, a little bit. It's been good.
CATHY: Andy, you wanted to say something?
ANDY: One line I would perhaps leave any people listening to the podcast with is in terms of train the trainers actually, you want to try and be teaching somebody or training somebody who's ten years younger than yourself. I think others have said it was only active recently retired 60 year olds. You can bring people along, but we all know about the demographic profile of the ringing community. It's about trying to teach younger people to teach because I make no secret of, I'm in my sixties. If I can teach somebody in their fifties or forties, and then they teach forties, thirties and lower down, Hayley's giggling at this point because I'm succeeding because Hayley's considerably younger than me. [laughs]
HAYLEY: Well, in a way, you're all older than me, but you've all mentored me on a little bit, Andy more so, I suppose, because he rings in my own tower. Andy covers me when I'm away. I'm working all the time and there's a huge amount of reliance on each other, isn't there, to lead that together. And I think without support from the older generation, if I can say that politely, the younger generation will never be able to actually take the reins. The older generation leads them forward and could grab them by the scruff of the neck.
ANDY: So it's we've got to if I call it trickling down through the age groups because my 20 something daughter, she doesn't mind going ringing with Dad, but she doesn't really like ringing with old fogeys as she calls them. If we can get a group, get it to trickle down to thirties, twenties, and you have a ringing group which is more thirties and twenties, then you will get my stroppy daughter coming along and actually joining in. So there's a bit about age profile and trying to reduce that age in terms of trying to succeed. And just another point, I mentioned ART, I'll probably get a shot by the ART management committee, but we've been trying to do a bit of a ART light because it is quite a commitment to go on a full day ART course. But with my sort of train the trainers theme, we've been trying to do ART for 80% of art with 20% of the effort for a much shorter time, because again as Hayley said, Cornwall is in special measures. We've got to do the emergency resuscitation bit and not perhaps worry too much about the actual last 10% if you like. So I hope ART don't rescind my membership because of that comment. But it's the point about emergency measures.
CATHY: I also hear that you have a special way of teaching people who are left handed.
ANDY: I'm fairly moderate in my sort of political views, but the only thing that I'm quite extreme about is being very left handed myself. Anybody who suggests that you can only ring with your right hand above your left, shoot them. [laughs] So I make sure that people have every opportunity to ring the way they want to. So you do which way would you hold a tug of war? Which way would you hold a golf club? Which way would you hold a digging fork in the garden and that sort of thing. And you find out which way people act and everybody says "Oh, you're either left handed or right handed." But some people, I think the technical term is cross lateral. It's a much finer balance in terms of left or right. So you actually have to work that through with them. And I've known the case, I think we've done it at Wendron actually. Somebody started to say, right handed and ended up ringing left handed. Give them that choice, try it out. And we eventually found the best way to do it for them.
CATHY: Looking forward, what do you see needs to be in place for all this to continue to be a success?
ANDY: I'll start that one if you like. I expect the others will have a view on that as well. One thing again, from my Dorset experience, many years ago we were in what we call six week training courses. In that case, it was basic plain hunting, bob doubles, that sort of stuff. And one fault we found, with the way we approached it is that we got drawn in and it became much more than six weeks and everybody got tired out and burnt out and everything. So it was first, my point which I said to Bob and the others, I said, "Look, this is got to be time limited as far as I'm concerned, because I want to be helping on projects in other parts of Cornwall." So we set some time limits which have been extended a bit anyway but this has been good fun so what the hell. So there's the point about time limits and making sure that you don't get burn out. And I said to make, in my case myself redundant by helping and I know Bob and Miranda and others done a lot of work locally to get that critical mass so they can run on it's own and one person doesn't get burn out or whatever. And I think we're just about there.
HAYLEY: I'd reinforce that. And I would say at the beginning we were trying to pair up our efforts of understanding where church closures might take place, where services might start to get limited within the diocese because the Truro Diocesan Guild of Ringers objective is to support the ringing in the diocese. So I was wondering how we could do that in a more effective way, really, and more strategically. And I don't think they were ready two years ago to start talking about that, but now they've started rolling out their on the way plans in each deanery. We are now I think, within grasp of having sensible conversations about where services will maybe not be happening so much and where we can try to align ourselves in terms of clustering within each deanery to be a lot more effective and maybe save some time and effort with some places short term. So we can be a bit more targeted and be more efficient in the teaching in places where we know will be ongoing services and activity.
CATHY: So you're mirroring what the church is doing. Where they're going to have services, you want to have ringers? Is that what you're saying?
HAYLEY: I think that would be a really good place to start from, but that's just me. And I probably am slightly naive in wanting a conversation with the powers that be in each deanery to achieve that. But we just asked to be informed, not be part of the conversation. We just want to be informed really, because I think that's the best we can hope for as ringers. But we have clearly demonstrated down on the Kerrier Deanery that we fill the church at Wendron on a Saturday morning. It's full of laughter, joy, people learning. And the proof is in the pudding, isn't it, if we can roll that out. And I was always looking for something that if it worked down on the Kerrier Deanery with Bob and his team at Wendron, then it would work anywhere. And that's something I'm, you know, really quite enthusiastic about trying to roll out in other places in time. There were only a few of us. We need to start the snowball effect, but it already has started in reality and we hope to be able to be supporting a team at Lanteglos by Camelford and there's everywhere in Cornwall is really shouting for more ringers. So there's no end to the possibilities really.
CATHY: Miranda did you want to talk about what needs to be in place for everything to succeed going forward?
MIRANDA: There's still lots to do. Bob's already thinking of some other hubs to do some training in. We do need to retain these new learners. So that's the next sort of thing, as well as continuing to recruit more at other towers. Keep on making it fun, making sure that they progress in the way that they want to. I think that's going to be the next big challenge for us all, as well as continuing to keep recruiting from some new areas.
CATHY: And Bob.
BOB: Well, all I can add to that is I concur with what Miranda, Andy and Hayley have said. It is retaining what we've got also with regards to the distances where I am, especially in the Kerrier area. I'm optimistic we will have a similar hub, but on a smaller scale at Mullion starting by the first Thursday in May. But there again, I've got five recruits not signed up, but they've expressed an interest. But I'm going to keep that one a lot smaller than Wendron because it's a commitment for filling in the teachers and helping ringers each week as well as the Wendron ones. So we do need more teachers like Andy said. They're out on the lizard they must be but we just need to dig around and find them and see if they can come along and support myself on a Thursday evening for an hour or so. And that's the only way you really were going to survive. If we don't, if we don't get the teachers and the ringing assistants, the students obviously will not last the courses.
CATHY: So as well as new ringers, you need more teachers, but how do you find these recruits? You've mentioned that you get them through Facebook. How do you get them through Facebook?
BOB: I'm fairly well known, on the Lizard as being a retired police officer. And I just think that if you're well known in the community and obviously from what I did, people know what I did and how I went about it. And if I say something, they know that it will happen. And I think with the context that I've got, not only on Facebook but personally in and around the Helston area and also further afield, it is getting the right people along and it is the communication. Obviously, being a retired policeman, you've got to speak to people, you need to keep in contact. It's like victims. You've got to keep them, going back to the police days, you've got to keep your victims updated. The same with the ringers, you've got to get your ringers updated. And I do that. I do that on a weekly basis.
CATHY: Miranda, you wanted to say something?
MIRANDA: Yeah. I'm not well known like Bob. I don't know where everyone lives like he does, but we're using Facebook where we were. We didn't actually say we need ringers or anything as blatant as that. We just put on the local village Facebook any of the times, any time that we were ringing that was interesting. Like when Prince Philip died, we were tolling for that and put that on the Facebook that they were all interested. When we ran for climate change, we put that on the Facebook, all this kind of stuff. When they have a crack set of Devon Call Change Ringers, we put that on the Facebook and the villagers are all dead keen about this and then started to say, "Well, can I learn as well?" So it wasn't a hard sell. We just in our church can hear the bells but can't see the ringers. They're miles up in the air. And by letting them know that we were there and were relatively human, they came forward.
CATHY: Now, does anybody have anything else that they wanted to mention?
HAYLEY: Just a massive plea really, to every person over the age of 60 who can ring, if they'd like to be able to take somebody 10 to 20 years younger under their wing and drag them along into leadership or teaching positions and support them, then that's an awesome thing to do.
CATHY: Miranda, you were looking at the statistics of the numbers of ringers in the western district. Weren't you. If you could tell me.
MIRANDA: We had the 2022 subs payment information has just come through and I compare that with the 2020 so just before lockdown and is pretty grim still. 2020 we had across the whole of the western district. So that's three deaneries including Lizard. We had 227 and in 2022 this year it had dropped down to 199, so it dropped by 12% due to the usual old age people not going to ring anymore, leaving the county. But actually the three districts Kerrier, the Lizard, Bob's section did very well from 2020,that's actually gone up quite a lot. And I think that's due to Bob and his success at Wendron and also the St Keverne success. And during this time, we've also as Andy's and as Hayley have said, we have quite a few ART courses in Cornwall and train the trainer sessions. So there's been a sort of an upswing of number of teachers. There's still hardly any, but at least it's better than there was before and where these trainers are based. So there's Towednack, St Keverne and Wendron of course, and Buryan, there's been quite a few learners being put through their paces. So it is grim, but there's glimmers of hope because of through getting more trainers, as Hayley's mentioned, try and get some more trainers in. It does seem to work. So yeah, we just need to keep on going and get that mojo going and realighted - like Bob's.
CATHY: It sounds like you've got a lot of mojo down there. That's really good news.
CATHY: Thank you to my guests, Hayley Young, Miranda Penhaligon, Bob Woods and Andy Smith for telling us all about the successful Lizard Recovery Project. If you've enjoyed this episode, then please share it. This podcast was put together by a team. Special thanks. Go to Anne Tansley Thomas and John Gwynne, Lesley Belcher and the Society of the Cambridge Youths for the recording of their ringing.
[Bells ringing rounds]