Helen learned to ring tower bells in 1979 under the expert tuition of Steve Jakeman in South Hackney, East London
She learned to ring handbells in early 80’s at Bow-in-the Road with Richard Harris & the late Roger Bailey. Peter and Helen were visiting Bow to extend their tower bell repertoire and their practice consisted of 20 mins in the bitterly cold ground floor ringing room of Bow then 20 mins in the warm vestry ringing handbells…then back to the cold…There were 3 of them in their home in Walthamstow at the time, Helen, Peter and a lodger called Dai Herbert. Peter and Helen had a house and Dai had a car. They travelled all over East London ringing tower bells every evening and soon – as a direct result of their trips to Bow they bought a set of handbells.
The only way they got their plain courses of bob minor to come round was for each of them to stick to just one pair of bells – as it happened Peter was on the trebles, Helen had 3/4 and Dai the 5/6. It is how they have orientated themselves ever since…though that really is a case of ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say’. They always encourage novice handbell ringers to move around the pairs….just don’t expect them to do so!
They have moved about quite a bit for various work-related reasons. London – Reading – New York – Scotland – Alderney. The more remote the house the better they enjoy it. They always persuade their neighbours to ‘have a go’ at the handbells. Ringing minor they can outnumber them 2:1 so they quickly can see how much fun it is
They run a number of training courses every year, both in Tulloch & Alderney – they have a private ringing centre in both locations so gaining 24/7 access to easy bells is never a problem. Handbells are an integral part of every course they run. Initially they ask the novices to ring only one bell but soon they progress to ringing 2
Rhythm is even more important in hand than in tower – you can’t fake it – you have either got it or you haven’t. Handbells rely to a much greater extent than tower bells on understanding the structure of a method – the big jigsaw is much more apparent – and therein lies the fun
Handbell ringing has been an integral part of their ringing life for 40years – and they are better tower bell ringers for it.
Both Peter & Helen are proud to be Cumberlands, & see their contribution to the exercise as a patient teacher (Helen) & provider of facilities (Peter)
Where has their handbell ringing taken them ….most westerly:
They (Helen & Peter) rang on Green Island (off south coast of Jersey) in the 80’s & plan to visit the Minqees with the same bands soon….mopping up the most easterly (Lowestoft) is thought to be easy
Their handbell ringing has been such fun even though Helen says she will never be able to ring in hand what she can ring in tower. But if she was cast-away on a desert island it would have to be handbells bells not tower bells that she would have to ask for as her luxury as they are such a wonderful puzzle.
Helen and Peter McGregor in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand
This entry was written in May 2020.
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