Jonathan Couchman learned to ring about 12 years ago in his then hometown of Wetherby, a market town a short distance northeast of Leeds. Like David, he remembers with pleasure the tower captain saying after a period “You do know that we regard you as one of us, don’t you?”. He discovered the hospitality of ringing when he was made very welcome also at Knaresborough tower, ‘a good learning tower’. Jonathan says he was a slow learner and never mastered plain hunting while he lived in Wetherby: ‘We all learn at different speeds and I do encourage slow learners and their teachers to persevere’.
Subsequently, he moved to Wensleydale, where his wife who is a C of E priest became incumbent of a benefice having one band of ringers but two ringable bell towers. It has been an eventful time in Wensleydale: in Jonathan’s early days, he attended 2-weekend training courses that allowed him to plain hunt and then ring bob doubles. The band expanded to the point where there were sufficient ringers for it to separate into two cooperating bands (a band for each tower). The band to which Jonathan belonged undertook a restoration of the bells of the band’s tower, which he says has been most exciting and rewarding.
Whilst in Wensleydale, Jonathan was asked to become the membership secretary of his local Branch, which he did. The Branch sensibly decided to establish clusters to improve the way that towers worked together and asked each cluster to find a “cluster coordinator”. As nobody else was interested in the role, Jonathan also found himself the cluster coordinator. Thankfully, David Scrutton and his wife moved to Masham and David joined Jonathan as a co-leader of the cluster, and a changing group of other people formed an ad hoc committee with them. It was during lockdown that Jonathan stumbled upon the idea of using an online course to recruit new ringers while locked down people were often looking for things to do.
Jonathan continues to be interested in online ringing as he has a chronic illness that too often impedes his ability to ring in the tower. In fact, Jonathan thinks online ringing could be a good occupation for many others who have difficulty being active or leaving home, and this is his next project.
This entry was written in June 2023.
What, if anything, is worth keeping from the COVID lockdown period? Well definitely the Wensleydale Clusters online ringing course! Host Cathy Booth hears from ART award winners David Scrutton and Jonathan Couchman, who tell the story behind their successful recruitment scheme, now in its third year. In just five hours ...