Navigating the News: Taking Bell Ringing to a Wider Audience

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This episode is jam packed with practical tips as host Cathy Booth, with the help of three engaging guests, explores how to get positive bell ringing stories into the media.

First off, ringers Matthew Butler and Kate Flavell talk Cathy through their experiences of making the news – either after being contacted by local radio, TV and the press, or trying to hit the headlines themselves.

Cathy then gets a very different perspective from interviewing journalist Andrew Napier, who very helpfully explains how things work from the other side.

So if your Facebook post goes viral, or you have a great news story to share, this podcast provides the perfect preparation for your interview, photograph or press release. If you do get the call, just go for it – see it as yet another opportunity to bust that myth that ringing involves monks being yanked up in the air!

About Matthew Butler

Matthew Butler was born in Dorset in 1985 and was brought up in Wimborne Minster. At the age of 18, he began ringing at Wimborne Minster church, being taught initially by Neil and Mary Garrard.

In 2004 he began studying at the University of Bath, and continued learning to ring at St Mary’s Bathwick. He began ringing at Bath Abbey in 2005.

Since graduating in 2008 Matthew has continued to live in Bath and to ring at Bath Abbey. He was Ringing Master between 2013 and 2014, and was elected Tower Master in 2019, a position he still holds. Matthew’s time as Tower Master has coincided with major building works to the Abbey (the “Footprint Project”), the Covid-19 lockdowns and the deaths of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II.

A white man with short brown hair and glasses is centre to the image wearing a dark brown shirt.
Matthew Butler
Kate Flavell

About Kate Flavell

Kate learnt to ring at Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey while still at school.  In 1978 she moved to Kingston and has rung there ever since.  She met her husband Paul through ringing and they married in 1985.  Kate has been Vice President and President of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers as well as Chairman of first the Bell Restoration Committee and later the Public Relations Committee.  She has also been General Master of the Surrey Association, a post now held by her husband.  She has rung nearly 150 peals but now prefers to ring quarters for pleasure and for special occasions as well as to help learners.

About Andrew Napier

Andrew Napier is Head of News for the Hampshire Chronicle and Romsey Advertiser and has worked in Winchester, initially for the Southern Daily Echo, since 1988. He has covered stories such as Twyford Down, Micheldever New Town and Silver Hill as well as hundreds of cases at Winchester Crown Court.

A white man with short brown hair smiles at the camera. He wears a coat with a blue shirt and stripy tie.
Andrew Napier

Top 5 Takeaways

  • Think of the one key message you want to get across, and don’t be afraid to repeat it.
  • Practice explaining change ringing in a short and simple way that absolutely anyone can understand.
  • For TV, print and social media, think about the visuals and remember to try and feature a range of ringers from different demographics if possible.
  • If approached by the media always check what the story is and what they want from you. As a back up though, always be prepared to answer questions about noise complaints, just in case!
  • Don’t be disappointed if your story doesn’t get featured or you work hard to set up an interview but it is cancelled at last minute, the news agenda does move very fast.

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