From The Master (Summer 2020)

Never in my lifetime did I expect to bear witness to the church bells of Sussex falling silent, even more so during my tenure as Master of the Sussex County Association.

Indeed, the only time they have previously fallen silent was on June 13th, 1940 during World War II, following a Government order that bells should only be rung in case of invasion.

Fast forward nearly eighty years and the bells of Sussex fell silent once more. This time due to a battle with an invisible but ever-present enemy; Coronavirus.

Coronavirus first started to make the news in January, by February it was spreading across the globe and in March started to cause real issues here in the UK.  The speed at which events here unfolded was quite surreal.

By the second week in March it was obvious that ringing would be impacted in one way or another, indeed our band in Brighton had already started to take precautions with personal hygiene; a number of us were using alcohol gel to sanitise. Some of our ringers had taken the decision to self-isolate to safeguard their health. Discussions were ongoing within the Association as to what impact Coronavirus would likely have on planned events and how we could introduce measures protect ringers.

In a matter of days the UK Government advised that non-essential travel and contact with others should be avoided, this was the curtain call for ringing.

I didn’t make our local practice on March 16th as I was working late, but did make the pub by the skin of my teeth and I’m glad I did; it was to be the last time we met. It’s hard to describe the emotion as we all sat round a table and reflected on a pandemic that was growing before our eyes. As we left it was almost like a scene out of a movie; friends going into the dark of the night not knowing when they would see each other again. The journey home was long and thought provoking.

On March the 17th I made the hard call to suspend all ringing activities in Sussex, a decision which was inevitable and could no longer be avoided.

Since that fateful day, the way in which we have all come together to reach out to one another, and connect in ways we had not done before, has been so uplifting to see. Modern technology has been thrust to the forefront of our lives and has enabled old friendships to be sustained and new ones to be forged.

Three months ago, I would never have thought that I would be ringing with friends from multiple corners of Sussex (and sometimes further afield) while sat in the comfort of my own home. Ringing Room, developed by Leland Kusmer and Bryn Reinstadler from Boston (USA), has been a lifeline in enabling ringing to continue during lockdown. Whilst it’s not ringing in a format we are used to, and with its own challenges, it has enabled bands to maintain contact and cohesion which is so important.

Our Annual General Meeting was held using an alternative format and for the first time featured electronic voting, and for those without access to the internet postal voting. This proved to be extremely popular and saw the biggest turnout ever recorded, 269 votes being cast in total. It has given the General Committee food for thought as to how we allow a wider section of ringers to participate in future AGMs.

Nearly three months since Lockdown was imposed we are now starting to see an easing in the restrictions. Shops have now reopened, and some sports are taking place behind closed doors.

Social distancing remains in place though, with no obvious end in sight, and with that no realistic prospect of ringing returning for now. It is hard to predict when we might return to our towers, but we will, and when we do I hope it is with a surge of enthusiasm that will propel our Association forwards out of this dark moment in our history.

Please continue to stay in touch with each other and do reach out to those members of your band who may be finding things hard.

Ringing will return!

Best Wishes,

Rob Lane (Master)

Happy New Year 2020

Ring out the old, ring in the new. Ring, happy bells, across the snow.

So said Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem ‘Ring Out Wild Bells’. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a single flake of snow in Sussex last night as we bade farewell to 2019, indeed much of the county is still sodden from the incessant rain of recent weeks.

I hope that if you stayed up late to ring out the old and ring in the new you enjoyed it. Ringing for New Year always tends to be a good social occasion, slightly more relaxed and a chance to enjoy each other’s company. Those listening outside the tower are always grateful to hear bells ringing to celebrate the New Year.

As a new year and new decade dawns it gives us a chance to reflect on the achievements we have made together, time also to think about when we could have done things a little differently.

What did you or your tower achieve? Where do you aspire to be this time next year? I’m sure that we all have our own goals to work towards within ringing, as a team we can make them a reality.

2020 could be the year you decide to play an active part in helping our association be fit for a new decade of ringing. There are several vacancies that will need to be filled this year, in order that we can continue to support ringing within Sussex. None of these require previous experience, just an open mind and a willingness to help others. We have a great team who will be there to guide you every step of the way. If you would like to get stuck in and help make a difference, please speak to your District Secretary or any Association Officer. The Annual District Meetings take place in February, nominations for vacant posts and those about to be vacated will be taken there. Check out the district newsletters here for details of the ADMs and who’s who

It’s not just formal roles either that we need to be mindful of. Supporting district events, and those across the wider association, is hugely important. Why not make a New Year’s resolution to go to an event in another district this year?

Wherever you ring in 2020, I hope you do so in good company, with more ringers than you had last year, and fewer than you will have next year. On behalf of the Officers of the Association and your Central Council Representatives, I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Rob Lane
Master - Sussex County Association of Change Ringers

From the Master (Spring 2019)


I’m sure you’ll all be glad that the days are starting to draw out quite rapidly and British Summer Time is here, hopefully it won’t be too long before we are enjoying some hot weather (no guarantees though, we all know what the infamous ‘British Summer’ is like!). 

February saw the ADMs take place across the association. With a bit of luck and by pulling in a few favours at work I was pleased to be able to make it to three out of four. My apologies go to the Eastern District for being unable to make your ADM, I will be there next year. It was great to meet lots of new faces at the ADMs, the West ADM proving to be a great chance for networking while trying to run the ringing (not an easy task when there’s only 6 bells and nearly 60 ringers!). 

I was very privileged in March to be able to attend both Ringing Remembers ‘Sussex Says Thank You’ events. These were hugely popular and are a fitting tribute to all the effort that has been put in to recruitment of new ringers in Sussex. As well as paying our thanks to those who have taught our new recruits the first steps in the art of change ringing, it was a chance for new members to meet each other and try their hand on different bells. There was also the opportunity to have a go at ringing on handbells, and experience ringing on a portable simulator. We were also very fortunate to be able to enjoy the company of Vicki and Colin Chapman at the Heathfield event, Vicki being the leading light behind the instigation of the whole Ringing Remembers campaign.

Rapidly approaching us now is the AGM, for those that haven’t yet put it in their diaries Saturday 11th May is the one to mark down. An afternoon of ringing (and tea!) at towers around Eastbourne precedes the main meeting which will be held at All Saints, Eastbourne. Please try and make it if you can, there are still a couple of roles in the association which will need to be filled. No experience is required as you’ll be given all the help and training needed to make a success of them. 

Don’t forget to check the website for up to date information of events happening in your district and across the wider association, why not pop along to something outside of your normal area? Don’t worry if it’s not being organised by your district, you will be made more than welcome.

I look forward to ringing with you all over the summer months.

Rob Lane (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

From the Master (Winter 2018)

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and managed to fit in plenty of ringing, in between the helpings of food, drink and festivities.

2018 was a great year for our association with several successes and I hope going forwards that 2019 will be even better. We have plenty to build on following on from the great success of the Ringing Remembers recruitment campaign, a welcome boost to the number of ringers in Sussex. 

Yesterday (10th January) I was reminded of one of the successes of 2018, when our young ringers appeared on Blue Peter. Presenter Lindsey Russell took up a special challenge to learn the art of change ringing and take part in the Ringing World National Youth Contest. After a practice session at St Magnus, she rang at Garlickhythe where the judges had to guess which team she was ringing in; they correctly deduced that she was ringing in team B. As we all know our young ringers then went on to win the contest! If you haven’t seen this episode already it is available on BBC iPlayer.

Looking ahead February sees the Annual District Meetings take place, this is your chance to become involved with the running of the association, both at District and Association level. It’s also a great chance to meet other ringers and help decide how your district is run. Please try and support these meetings if you can (copious amounts of homemade cake will be available, surely that’s an incentive to attend?). If you’re unsure of where your District is holding its ADM, full details are available on the calendar or via your District Secretary.

If ringing on higher numbers is one of your challenges for 2019 then you’ll be pleased to know that the Northern District have agreed to hold a monthly 12 bell practice at East Grinstead on the fourth Monday of the month (first practice 28th January 19:30 – 21:00). This is a great chance to start ringing regularly on 12 bells and is open to anyone who is already able to ring rounds and call changes competently on 8 or 10 bells. Experienced 12-bell ringers please do come along and help support those who would like to progress (I’ll buy you a pint in the pub afterwards!). 

Don’t worry if you’re not quite up to ringing on 12 bells just yet, there is a full-on programme of events and practices lined up for the coming year (details of a two-day ringing course will be posted once they have been confirmed). Hopefully there will be something to help enhance your own ringing, as well as giving you the ability to visit new towers and make new friends.

I look forward to ringing with as many of you as possible this year.

Happy ringing!

Rob Lane (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Happy Christmas from the Master

Dear members,

2018 is drawing to a rapid close and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our association over the past twelve months.

Ringing Remembers was a huge focus for us this year as we approached the centenary of the World War I Armistice. My thanks go to all those took the time to help recruit and train new ringers, Sussex can be rightly proud to be one of the leading associations for recruitment of new ringers this year! So far over 140 new ringers have started to learn the art, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Association. If you haven't already nominated your new ringers to become members of the Association, details can be found here.

As we move towards 2019 please continue to support the ringing in your local area, district, and over the wider association. It is hoped to hold some new practices and events over the coming year, a great chance to progress your ringing and meet other members of our association, these can only be a success if we give them the support they deserve. Full details can be found on the calendar.

The Annual District Meetings take place in February and are a hugely important time to come together and help play a part in running your association. Details of the ADMs will be distributed by your District Secretary shortly, your support at these meetings would be greatly appreciated. Please do encourage your new ringers to come along!

It would be great to know your ringing related New Year’s Resolutions and be able to help support you in achieving these. Maybe it’s trying to improve your striking, moving onto a new method, ringing up and down in peal, or learning to conduct. If there’s something you’d like to try but need a helping hand, please get in touch.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and all the best for 2019!

Best Wishes,

Rob Lane

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