Transcript of ‘Calling all young ringers’

Transcribed by Emily Watts

JOSEPHINE: I think there is always going to be a certain level of a teenager being terrified to walk into a room of adults, there’s always going to be an aspect of that that’s there. But I think just listen to your young ringers. Ask them if they want to try something new, ask them if they want to try conducting or, being in charge of a practice for an evening. And when they do, listen to them and let them lead, let them step up and have confidence in them that they can do this.

[Bells ringing rounds]

CATHY: Hello, this is Fun with Bells. I’m Cathy Booth. Last month I interviewed the Lilliputters Guild, a group for young ringers started in 2015. Today I have three more young ringers with me who have recently set up the Young Change Ringers Association, the YCRA. Please can you introduce yourselves?

JOSEPHINE: Hi, I’m Josephine. I’m from Sussex, but now I am at the University of Bristol having great fun. And I’ve been ringing for about five or so years.

EMILY: Hi, I’m Emily, I originally learned to ring in Derbyshire from the age of about seven, and I now ring in the Nottingham area.

MATT: Hi, I’m Matt. I grew up in Kent and then moved to Bristol to do my degree for four years, and have stayed there ever since. And I’ve been ringing for about 10 years now.

CATHY: Now Jo, you’re a member of both the Lilliputters and the YCRA. Given that the Lilliputters Guild already exists, why is the Young Change Ringers Association being set up?

JOSEPHINE: For me, Lilliputters was always very much like a friendship group. It was a place for me to ring with my friends, but still, all be managed and safe and everything. Whereas the YCRA, I wanted to create somewhere that was for everyone. Like not just a friendship group, somewhere that reached out to every young ringer in the country and created a safe space for them, so that they could all enjoy the same benefits I’ve got from Lilliputters, but on a national scale, rather than just like a smaller friendship group.

CATHY: I see, and you’d say a safe space. What do you mean by that?

JOSEPHINE: Yeah. As a young ringer, a lot of proper adult practice nights can get quite scary sometimes. I get very intimidated sometimes going into bigger practice nights, and it’s really nice to be able to just hang out with younger ringers and have fun with them and not have to deal with almost, the pressures of trying to be mature enough to be in a proper group of adults. You can just have fun.

CATHY: So it’s more about having fun. Ringing should be about having fun shouldn’t it?

JOSEPHINE: Yes absolutely. But sometimes when you’re 15 and you walk into a tower full of 70, 80 year olds, you suddenly feel like you have to be this proper adult, which you’re most definitely not at 15.


CATHY: Okay, good. So I’m going to come back to asking about that sort of thing in a minute, but I’d like to find out a bit more about the YCRA to begin with. What is the YCRA?

EMILY: That’s a very good question. Does anybody here know? Matt do you want to go for this one?

MATT: Yeah. I suppose I better give it some context. So about this time last year, El Presidente Simon Linford had a bit of a discussion with lots of people whilst we were all locked inside about a big core membership group, and it came out that some people liked it and some didn’t. But what came out of it, overarchingly was that young ringers wanted some sort of belonging, a big central membership organization. And out of that, I was the last to step back, and so then recruited Jo to jump on board along with some others as well. So we spent a few months bottoming it out, and we came up with, I think the YCRA is two main things. It’s a place, I’ll pick up on what JOSEPHINE said, is a safe space to provide a mentoring scheme for young ringers. 

What I mean by that is we’re an organization that spans from 30 downwards. So anyone can join us from 30 downwards. Obviously you’ve got that age gap between 18 to 30. Under 18, where you’ve got your safeguarding issues and stuff like that. So the mentoring scheme is really for under 18s to come and ask over 18s for help in ringing, and for all of those things to give them. I want to learn how to ring bob doubles. I want to learn how to put bell muffles on, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s not just for under 18s. Over 18s can jump on as well. So that’s the first bit is that mentoring scheme for young ringers, to make them feel included and to better themselves in ringing, but also as a person, mentoring gives so many great benefits for both the mentor and the mentee, especially young ringer wise. And it’s a mentor, not just for ringing, it’s for general stuff as well. Em will explain this far better than I will. But apparently when you’re young, you have like feelings and stuff, and I try and get rid of those quite early on, bell ringing, maths and that’s about it. In all seriousness, being a young person and growing up is lots going on. And sometimes you just need someone that isn’t your parents or someone at school just to offload to and ask for a bit of advice too. And that’s what we want the mentoring scheme to be really, is a bit of a friendly face, not just for ringing, but someone to say, I’ve got this problem, I’m sure you went through something similar. What did you do?

CATHY: So when you, sorry, when you say mentors, you’re the mentors for younger ringers, just to clarify that.

JOSEPHINE: Yeah. So anyone over 18, will be able to apply to be a mentor.

CATHY: But under 30?

JOSEPHINE: Over 18, under 30, yeah. Between the 18 to 30. Yeah. they’ll be able to apply to be a mentor and we will have interviews, applications, so not to screen people, but to check that if someone wants to be a mentor that they’re, safe and appropriate and everything like that. And then once you pass that application process, we will then bring in proper adulty adults, as we like to call them to train you and give you safeguarding training, things like mental health, first aid, so that you know who to go to, things like if you want to be able to be a mentor for method ringing, to check that you actually know how to ring the methods that you’re saying you can mentor and things like that. So it’s a really solid system, where there is going to be lots of safeguarding in place. Yeah, we’re very focused on safeguarding.

CATHY: Adulty adults. Who are they?

EMILY: It’s a technical term, and it means real adults above 30, who are experts in their fields or known to be experts in their fields. Yes.

CATHY: So passing it down the generations really isn’t it?

JOSEPHINE: Yeah absolutely.

MATT: Picking up on that, passing it down the generations. That’s one thing we wanted to pick up on. And formed a big part of that, giving back, the idea of someone did that for me, therefore I’m going to help them. And we kept saying that’s the only way ringing can keep going, that give back, help people, do what other people helped you to do. That’s part of what we hope the mentoring scheme will be: someone mentored me, therefore, when I get above 18, I’m going to help mentor someone else.

CATHY: And one of the phrases I hear is recruitment and retention. Is your focus on retention or are you going to be doing any recruitment of young people as ringers as well?

MATT: I think, we, we hope to be predominantly retention. With the structures we have in place, that’s what we would be best at. That’s not to say we won’t run events or put things together for recruitment wise, but we realize that there’s a real value in tower captains across the UK, still being boots on the ground, teaching people how to ring and what we want to provide is, that young ringers understand that there’s other young ringers about. So they can learn in their tower and that’s great, get people learning that’s really valuable, but we want to show them that there’s life outside that tower and that there’s young ringers that exist in the world, believe it or not. And they do, it’s just finding them and connecting them.

EMILY:  I had a lad, message me on Instagram. I think it was only the night before last, he’s 21 years old and he’s never met another ringer his age before. And me who’s been to uni and rung with NUSCR (Nottingham University Society of Change Ringers) and other young ringers at my age. I think that’s crazy, cause I know loads of them. And it’s really nice that he reached out to me because now I can introduce him to this world. That’s why we need the YCRA because people that haven’t gone to uni for example, and have grown up through ringing, they miss out on a lot and they miss out. There’s something really special and valuable about ringing with your peers.

CATHY: I remember you saying that the last time we talked Emily.

EMILY: Yeah, this is literally just a continuation from our last conversation Cathy Just if people haven’t listened to it already, go back and listen to my interview with Cathy about CV’s and young ringers and this is me just putting my money where my mouth is, and actually doing something about what I spoke about. This is what’s come from that.

MATT: Suppose we’d better mention some events at some point. The first is the mentoring, the second strand is, we identified that the youth contest is, as some of our members have described it, the best day of the year, which I totally agree with. But it’s once a year. It’s still got that competition element to it. So what we wanted to do is have some events where you just get young ringers together from all over the country, in a central hub somewhere, and you just ring and socialize together. And that’s the really important bit of that, is it’s not just going to be bell ringing. It’s going to be meeting and socializing, talking to other young ringers, having fun with them. And most importantly, just making those connections and showing young people that, that ringing is fun. Almost that extension of uni ringing. I know we’ve all got experience of uni ringing here. Josephine is looking down as she’s missed the Southern Universities Association (SUA) weekend in London this weekend, she’s really sad-

JOSEPHINE: Devastated. 

MATT: But the great thing about SUA and what we really captured in it is you don’t go for the ringing. That is just a byproduct. You go to meet people and socialize, and that’s what we want our events to be. That you go for a little bit of the ringing, but you also go to see your friends from all over the country.

CATHY:  And you’re saying all over the country, there’s logistical issues with that. Are you going to do anything regionally or is it going to be for periods of time, like weekends or weeks? Because if people are traveling that far, they won’t just be able to come for a short space of time.

EMILY: We’re going to try and move the big events around. So they’re not all going to be London based for example. We’re going to try and move them around. And then we admit that there will be smaller ones, for example, if we go do one in Scotland, few people are going to travel there, but it would be something great for the Scottish ringers. Secondly, as soon as you’re a member of the YCRA the whole point of the YCRA is to give young ringers the support they need to do whatever they want in ringing. So if that is, I want to organize my own, young ringers event, they just need to, email us, give us a call, whatever, ask their mentor, and they will give them all the support they need to organize their own tour. So you’re not just limited to the events that the committee organizes in a year, you can go and do your own. If you’ve not got enough of a ringing fix, you’re like, I need more of… Brilliant! Very good. Do it yourself!

JOSEPHINE: And Emily and I have spent lots and lots of late nights writing guides on how to organize outings safely, how to run towers, how to act when you’re going to a new tower for the first time and things like that. So we were hoping to create this massive pile of documents of different things that can help young ringers when they want to organize things themselves.

CATHY: And when you say pile of documents is it?, What format is it going to be in?

JOSEPHINE: We’re hoping that eventually we’ll be able to just upload it all to our website. So anyone who can access our website will then be able to access all these documents that hopefully will not just be written by Emily and myself, but from experts in everything to do with ringing.

CATHY: That sounds a really useful repository. Now the mentors; would they have to be somebody local to the person who they’re mentoring, or are we all used to zoom and telephone calls and doing it that way? What’s your thoughts on that? 

EMILY: Whatever the mentee needs Cathy. We recognize that with every young ringer, there’s no one size fits all. There’s a lack of structure in a sense for a reason, which is that we do what the mentee wants.

CATHY: How are you going to match them? The mentees and the mentors?

MATT: Speed dating.


EMILY: We’re after somebody to facilitate that for us. Are we not Matt? If anyone wants to become our membership secretary, please do get in touch.

CATHY: So what have you done so far? You’ve talked about your plans and you’ve talked about this repository you’re going to put together, you do have a website. I’ve seen that. What else have you done so far? And then what are your plans for what steps you’re going to take now?

JOSEPHINE: We haven’t been able to do all that much yet because we’ve been mostly trying to just get off the ground. See if people are actually interested in membership and wanting to be a part of our association. But we did take over the social part of the National Youth Contest, had lots of games, had lots of food and drink. So much pizza. So I’ve never seen that much Pizza in my life, a lot of pizza and a lot of clearing up after. But that was our first like, will people actually want to be involved on a larger scale rather than just talking to our friends and people individually, and we have started planning for an outing hopefully around about Christmas time

MATT: 15th of January, it’s going to be based in Birmingham. Yeah, the event at the youth contest was a bit of a litmus paper type thing of seeing, very much thrown into the deep end. It was very new for the competition. It was very new for us, and to be honest, we had no idea what we were doing.


So my idea to that was buy toilet paper. So I did. And we ended up wrapping prominent ringers in toilet paper. So we had Mark Regan, became a mummy, as did Simon Linford. Julia Cater and David Hull went back to back and were wrapped in it. We had, just some softball stuff like that. Lots of pizza.

EMILY: Tug of war was my favourite.

MATT: Tug of war. Great thing with under 18s, and kids like that is you give them stuff and they do completely the opposite of what you expected to do with it, which is excellent. Although we went to quite a lot of effort putting a quiz together and it never got used because we were wrapping people in toilet roll

EMILY: I’m not bitter about it at all…

MATT: But Hey, so in Birmingham, there might be a quiz or there might be wrapping people in toilet paper. I think the great thing about this organization is we have no idea what was happening next. A very loose idea obviously.

CATHY: If somebody hears this podcast and wants to get involved in that, or the YCRA what do they do?

EMILY: Go to our website and go to join, join.

CATHY: Right okay.

JOSEPHINE: Yeah. So we’ve got a membership that you can sign up for, but we also have email addresses, contact details. We’ve got a Facebook that you can message and one of us will pick it up and reply to you. We’re on our phones all the time, especially when we’re supposed to be working. So we are normally pretty good at replying. So you can always contact us that way or message any of us privately, Facebook, Instagram, we’re planning on setting up a TikTok. We’re going to have the works.

MATT: What are the Instagram and Facebook handles? Do we know?

EMILY: @YCRA official, I think underscore official.

CATHY: Can you email me with them as well? Because we’ll put them on the show notes. 

MATT: We can do that. The email is generally you’ll get me on the end of that. So don’t do that. Come on. No one wants to speak to me.


EMILY: You’ll get Josephine or me if you message Facebook.

MATT: Yeah, much better.

CATHY: Okay. And how are you going to get the word out? You’ve been contacted, Emily, by somebody on Instagram, but what is the mechanism for getting people, in their local towers to know about you?

EMILY: We heard that someone has a podcast.


CATHY: But they may not know about that either!

EMILY: We’re basically just trying to spam all of the social media. Eventually people will get fed up with us. We turned up to the national youth and as JOSEPHINE mentioned, we organized the evening event and hopefully by the end of that, everybody knew who we were. Which was the important thing and the main reason that we did it, not just for the pizza, although that was nice. So yeah. Tell your friends, please even if they’re not a ringer, just tell them.

MATT: We put an article in the Ringing World, we’ve had two now actually. We had one written by me. So I’m hoping Will caught all the spelling mistakes and the second one by the lovely Eleanor who is also responsible for all our branding. She’s done our logo and stuff like that. And she wrote a nice writeup of the ringing world, which was far more literate than mine. So people, obviously if you’re not on social media and you just read the comic, that’s a good way to, to pick it up in towers as well.

CATHY: And what about communicating via well, what’s your relationship with the guilds and associations? The regional ones.

MATT: At the moment. By that silence, very little at the moment. The plan is to hopefully get, so the Brumdingers, based in Birmingham, so the Birmingham young ringers. They’ve signed all of their young ringers up on mass, and that’s what we are hoping for with guilds and associations. Obviously that’s best case scenario for guilds and associations just to go here’s all of our young ringers. Here’s some money sign them up. Excellent. People do it individually. That’s fine as well. But yeah, that’s hopefully what we’ll get from them. Also we’ll pick up adulty adults, the adults from associations and stuff like that, to give us a hand with stuff.

EMILY: That technical term again,

MATT: It’s definitely a technical term.

CATHY: Now you mentioned money though. Is there a cost involved?

MATT: I’ll let Em or Josephine grab that one.

EMILY: Why me? I feel victimized. It does cost some money. It’s 15 pounds per year. And that money goes to making sure that you’re safe for a start, and you also get a nice little shiny gold badge and it’s a book that we wrote and the books will hopefully get better year on year as we work out what content needs to go in it. But so far it’s got things like important dates. You know that when the national youth competition is, it’s got, we got it wrong

MATT: It’s not in York, we got it wrong-

EMILY: It’s not in York, we got it wrong. We said it was in York and It’s not in York.

MATT: It’s in Exeter- [EMILY: It’s in Exeter!] it’s completely the wrong end of the country.

JOSEPHINE:  We are off to a flying start.

MATT: That’s a good thing as you go and introduce the YCRA and David Hull goes up afterwards and goes oh yeah. By the way, you’ve got it wrong in your book. Cheers David! 

EMILY: Yeah, hopefully useful and correct information about events in the year. We’ve got our code of conduct, which we wrote. A 10 point code of conduct. Basically be a nice human being, but we spell it out so that if there’s ever an issue at one of our events, we can go, look, this is the code of conduct. This is the one that you’ve broken. Either sit in a corner and think about what you’ve done or leave the event depending on how bad it is. What else do we have? Oh, and it’s a guide to ringing etiquette because we realized that not everyone grows up in the ringing community. And if you’re a new ringer, it’s crazy. Do I just grab, hold? Do I, what do I do? Do I just sit there and wait for people to come and talk to me? What’s expected of me in a tower? What’s expected of me if I go to a new place? To join a practice night for the first time. Yeah, Josephine and I wrote a handy guide.

CATHY: That sounds really useful.

EMILY:Yeah a lot of people were actually really compliment, comple– [CATHY: Complementary] yes complementary about it.

JOSEPHINE: Because I don’t come from like a ringing family. I don’t come from like a ringing background. None of the rest of my family ring. And so the first time that I went into a tower, I was just so lost. So lost. I was like, I don’t know what’s going on here. Help. So to have something that’s like a nice little easy guide of this is what you need to do. Makes life so much easier.

EMILY: Our little book. It’s part of the 15 pounds and also the rest of the 15 pounds that’s left goes to subsidizing events and things like that in the future.

JOSEPHINE: And obviously, there is the 15 pound cost, but if there is someone who wants to join, but for any reason can’t afford it, you can always contact us directly. We want this group to be as inclusive as possible. Any money that we have left over, we can go towards subsidizing or paying. If you cannot afford to join this group, we do not want money to be the reason that someone can’t be a part of our association.

CATHY:  Good. there may be adulty adults listening to this podcast. What do you want them to do?

MATT: Spread the word. Yeah. Adulty adults are great. Because they help teach people and they get people in. What we want to show young ringers is, there’s more to life than adults. And the only way we can do that is by adulty adults telling young ringers that we exist. And that, look there’s an association that will cater for your needs, help bring you on, but also help you ring with your peers and have a really good time. So if adulty adults can tell people, get the word about, about us. That would be excellent.

CATHY: Generally in the tower, Josephine you said you were scared by the adults. Adulty adults in that tower, I’m getting into this word.

JOSEPHINE: Rolls off the tongue. It’s beautiful.

CATHY: What can they do if anything, I’m not talking about the YCRA for a minute, but just generally, what could older people do to make younger people feel more comfortable.

JOSEPHINE: I think there is always going to be a certain level of a teenager being terrified to walk into a room of adults, there’s always going to be an aspect of that that’s there. But I think just listen to your young ringers. Ask them if they want to try something new, ask them if they want to try conducting or, being in charge of a practice for an evening. And when they do, listen to them and let them lead, let them step up and have confidence in them that they can do this. 

CATHY: That leads me on to something. I’ve heard that, in a 1988 survey, most successful tower captains for recruiting and retaining new ringers were aged 20 to 40.

EMILY: Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.

CATHY: Do you think that, this is a closed question but, why do you think young ringers should take on a tower captain role and leadership positions? If you do? 

EMILY: We’re the future of ringing. That’s basically it, you’ve got the enthusiasm. Josephine touched on a really good point, which is, the older generations need to listen to young ringers. And that’s actually something that came up a lot in our early discussion groups, that Matt and I were involved in. Young ringers, the word that kept coming up all the time was respect.

Young ringers didn’t feel respected in their tower. So if your tower captain is one of your peers, it’s a bit easier to have that respect because they are a young ringer if they’re that young. We’re counting young ringers as 30 and below. I think that’s one of the reasons is that it’s easier to feel respected and to be heard and to have a voice when you have a leadership that’s younger and it shouldn’t be the case, it shouldn’t be the case, but it is the case. Another thing is that I think that young ringers or younger ringers can be a bit more enthusiastic generally.

MATT: If you’re a young ringer with new ideas and you come in and you change some things up, it’s much more exciting for someone to come in and do something different as opposed to, it’s been done like this for the past X years, and we’re not going to change it this year. It’s just more exciting young people like change and everything constantly changing about this. Why can’t bell ringing?

EMILY: One of the most exciting things about ringing is how much we break limits. Constantly trying to ring longer peals and ring more complicated methods. It should be the same for ringing practice for your local neighborhood ringing practice. You should be trying to break your own barriers and what you’ve done before.

I’m not saying that everyone should be ringing the most complicated. But you should be breaking barriers yourself. So we always used to do stupid things at student practice, like trying to ring facing outside of the circle so you couldn’t see anyone. And just silly things like that just to make practices a bit more exciting. It is a generational thing that younger ringers are going to bring to the table more. I think it’s something that older people should take on board and learn from. Cause they’re capable of doing it as well. Of course they are.

CATHY: I just wonder whether there should be something like the scout and guide young leaders scheme in ringing. Thinking about situations where you’ve got an older tower captain and really they need to be bringing people up into that role, but you can’t just hand it over. Do you have any ideas about how that could be done?

JOSEPHINE: I think it goes on informally in a lot of good towers. My local tower, we are not the most complicated method ringers on the planet. But my tower captain David is absolutely fantastic. And he’s slowly been teaching me to conduct. So you take over parts of practice, run things and it’s really nice. So I would absolutely support something like that. And we’d love to help set up a scheme where we help tower captains show how to hand over things, collaborate with ART and things like that to try and help people.

EMILY: Bringing it back to the YCRA the idea of this mentoring scheme is that a mentee will be inspired hopefully by their mentor and will want to become a mentor themselves. By the time that they’ve become a mentor and they’re teaching mentees by the end of the YCRA, by the time that they’re 30. You have someone, you have a young ringer, capable ringer with all the skill sets required to be a tower captain and a leader. That’s pretty much what we’re here for. It’s giving young ringers the tools and the skills to be an adulty adult by the time that they graduate or whatever the words we’re going to use. Good question. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

CATHY:  I think we might’ve covered my main questions. Were there any other things that you think we should talk about?

EMILY: Pin badges.

JOSEPHINE: Pin badges. Oh no!

CATHY: What are pin badges?

EMILY: Apparently pin badges are now cool-

MATT: Pin badges are cool.

JOSEPHINE: We had a meeting, we had a proper meeting, all set up proper stuff that we needed to talk about. The entire time we ended up talking about pin badges. We just get derailed.

MATT: I brought it up as a bit of a joke. We were thinking about how to foster belonging in the YCRA and I was like, oh, we could always get pin badges!” and the two of the core seven, So we’ve got Alicia Small, who’s a ringer in Oxfordshire and Charlie Linford, whose part of the Brumdingers in Birmingham. Both of their faces lit up when we mentioned pin badges and they started nodding incessantly. Oh, that’s a great idea, it was a bit of a joke girls, but okay. So apparently pin badges, massive thing!

EMILY: There’s a generational split in the core seven within our group, because the three of us were like, yeah, pin badges. What a meme? And the kids were like, yeah! That’s a great idea!

MATT: Elenor, Charlie and Alicia, were really excited. We didn’t know that the three of us had no idea why there was such a hype and Sam just looked at us and went what’s a pin badge?


Sam is excellent

CATHY: I asked the same question. What is a pin badge?

MATT: A badge you pin to yourself.

EMILY: What they were wearing in the eighties. They used to put them on their school bags. Basically the 80s and the 90s have come back round again.

JOSEPHINE: So it’s like a metal badge where the pin on the back that you can put onto like your jumper or your jacket.

CATHY: Like a broach.

EMILY: Yeah. Like a broach.

JOSEPHINE: It was very exciting the day that the pin badges came in.

CATHY: So was there anything else that you wanted to discuss? Anything we haven’t covered?

MATT: I think that’s about it.

CATHY: My final two questions, and normally I’m just talking to one person and we’ve already spoken for quite a long time. So maybe we’ll try and do this quite quickly, but apart from the towers that you regularly ring up, what’s your favorite ring of bells and why? I don’t know whether you want to answer that question. And then the second question is, has anything remarkable happened to you that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t taken up bell ringing? First of all, your favorite tower, apart from the towers that you regularly ring at,

MATT: I can kick off. I’m very lucky, in Bristol I regularly ring at St Mary Redcliffe, which is brilliant. But back at home I don’t ring there that regularly at all now, but I’ve got a very soft spot for Rochester Cathedral. I really like them, and if you take a very good band there, they are very rewarding. That was very geeky. I’m really sorry.


 I like bell ringing!

JOSEPHINE: I am completely oblivious to the technicalities of bell ringing. I’ve gone to some towers and been like, I really like these and my friends who are really knowledgeable are like, these are horrible JOSEPHINE. Why, what are you saying? I just think of the towers where I have the best memories at. So a lot of London towers come to mind like Magnus and Garlickhythe, because I spent a lot of time there with my friends, Kingsdown in Bristol. Cause it’s now my tower when I’m at uni, Matt’s cringing. But yeah, just, it tends to be more about the sort of memories that I attached to rather than the actual ring of bells themselves.

MATT: Yeah. Kingsdown are not anything to write home about. An octave where the treble and tenor aren’t the same notes. Cracking.

CATHY: Good, good. And Emily?

EMILY: See, I found this really difficult to answer last time. I think I said York minster because I’d recently rung there with the NUA. The main reason that I said it is because one of our local ringers used to ring in York and he used to rant and rave about how beautiful they were. And we used to be like, yeah, whatever mate. Sure. And then I went there with the NUA. And I was like oh, this is really annoying. They’re actually really good.


I don’t know. I’ve rung at so many towers now, that there were too many good ones and there are also too many bad ones. I can’t answer it. I just don’t think I can. I think it’s, I’m always like I’m going to be missing someone out if I answer it, I’m going to be like, oh, I should have said that one.

CATHY: Okay. That’s fine. you don’t have to answer the question.

EMILY: I’m afraid that was a politician’s answer wasn’t it.


CATHY: That’s fine, Okay. And then has anything remarkable happened to you that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t taken up bell ringing. 

[Pause for thought]

You haven’t met your spouses through bell ringing, which is a frequent answer to this question.

EMILY: I said that last time. 


MATT: Currently living with, girlfriend and I have been together two and a half years and we met up at Kingsdown in Bristol. So actually that tower’s got a lot to answer for. Yeah, that’s happened. It’s just allowed me to ring. To make such a great group of friends. It’s just, you go up and it’s quite nice to spend time with people doing the weirdest of things. Going up and recovering a stay because the person you’ve learnt careered through it. Sorry, person you’ve taught, not person you’ve learnt. Yeah. That’s why I’m not allowed to write Ringing World articles.


You go up and go watch the splinters there Pete, it’s just the small little moments that you laugh about for years to come. Yeah, I was minding someone at an NUA weekend at the Bullring and we said let go of the sally Luke.And he did the opposite. He held on for dear life as he went careering towards the ceiling on the seventh at the Bullring. And that keeps coming up, having to ring that bell up in front of about 40 people up at the tower, as Luke whimpers in the corner that he didn’t let go. It just still does.

CATHY: Was he ok?

MATT: He was absolutely fine. We made him ring after that. He didn’t like us

EMILY: It’s what you’ve got to do though, when you fall off your bike you just need to get back on it again.

MATT: Exactly, he got straight back on the horse and, and then rang, rang a different bell. But yeah, that keeps being bought up. And luckily he didn’t go to SUA this weekend because I didn’t really fancy rescuing him at Bo or Magnus or somewhere like that. Done, done with rescuing him now.

CATHY: Right, was there anything else anybody wanted to say about remarkable things?

JOSEPHINE: I’ve got two answers. So one is very similar to Matt. The people you meet. It’s just unmatched and bell ringing. No normal person does bell ringing as a young person, it’s just not a normal thing to do. So you meet the most incredible wacky people ever


MATT: You’re saying the YCRA are all weirdos! We are quite friendly weirdos but we are weirdos!


JOSEPHINE: But also. Ringing has given me the chance to become a real part of my village community. So I was very very fortunate that when Dame Vera Lynn died, last year when we were in COVID, I was able to ring for her funeral and to stand there ringing as my entire village stood outside the church was just something else and something that I don’t think you can match anywhere.

EMILY: I think just ringing has developed me as a human being and it shaped me into the character that I am today. Good or bad. It’s given me the confidence to go into. I’ve said it all before in the other episode, but it’s given me the confidence to go and do the job that I do. It means that I can be in charge of people several times older than me, and when I have issues with some of the lads on site as I work on the railways. I can be like, What’s the heaviest you’ve lifted, bro?


 I think that’s the main thing that ringing has given me, is me

CATHY: Thank you to my guests, Josephine Leggett, Matthew Jerome, and Emily Hall. From the newly formed Young Change Ringers Association. If you have enjoyed this episode, then please consider letting someone else know about it.

This podcast was put together by a team. Special thanks go to

Anne TansleyThomas and John Gwynne, Lesley Belcher, and the Society of Cambridge Youths for the recording of their ringing.

[Bells ringing rounds]