This time last year I was organising a reunion – or rather I was, until the government shut down such frivolities and confined us all to quarters ( no, not that sort of quarters – the “shut up, keep in, prevent from leaving a place…” variety).
A year ago next week, we were meant to be hosting a Ringing Remembers Reunion for newbie Norfolk ringers. Our friends from Suffolk might have come along also. It was designed to encourage, support and enthuse everyone – give us a shot in the arm ( no, not that sort of shot in the arm…) and ensure that any wobblers, facing the “now they want me to ring methods” cliff, did not fall off it.
Of course, the planning came to nothing, but the piece that I wrote has been languishing in a file ever since ( no, not that sort of file…), so I have dusted it off and decided to publish it. It gives a flavour of how we were thinking a year ago. Today we are perhaps thinking rather differently. No need for tea and buns to encourage eager recruits to turn up. Just offer a rope and we will be there because many of us have missed ringing enormously. Either that, or the wobblers have made their decision and will not be returning and even the offer of a decent ringers’ tea is not going to change their minds.
Or perhaps it will? Note for the To-Do List – organise a Ringing Remembers 3 Year Reunion for the earliest opportunity, possibly June? Perhaps a little nudge will rekindle the interest of one or two individuals who might otherwise be lost to the ringing community. A nice, stress free ring on the training bells at the MRDC should ease any doubters back in gently, and there is also the cake to consider….
So here is what I wrote in March 2020:
I have only been to one school reunion and that was a few years ago when my alma mater invited back all old girls for the grand reopening of the school following a major building programme. I went with a friend for moral support (what if no one wanted to talk to me?) and together with another 4 or 5 girls from my year, we were the oldest ex-pupils there. Only some retired staff outranked us for age. We sat at the back – a gaggle of elderly professional women, including a Family Court judge, and made subversive comments about the speeches and questioned the suitability of appointing a “young thing” the same age as our own children to the post of headmistress. When we started the Head had been a Margaret Rutherford look-a-like character with a strong line in moral discipline and a heart of gold. We had all respected and loved her in equal measure. We then toured the school – eschewing the guided activities on offer and just poking about to see what had changed. Actually nothing had changed because it was a totally different place and the only recognisable object, other than the boards of honour (which some of us rebels had our names on), was one chair – the Head’s throne, an elaborate carved object where she had sat in assembly whilst dispensing guidance and authority. It boasted a plaque and was no longer for sitting on, although there were weather-proof bean bags on the roof for the 6th form to lounge about on, should they have a spare lesson.
The reason why I am wittering on about reunions, is that I am currently helping to organise one – a Ringing Remembers Reunion. Nearly two years on from when many of the Norfolk ringers signed up to join the great adventure of training to ring for the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice, we thought it would be useful to get together and celebrate our ringing achievements. It is not intended to be a comparison of how far we have come as individuals, so if anyone was thinking of bringing along their little books or certificates and waving them about, please don’t. Rather it is a chance to meet up, ring together, make contacts and network, and have some fun. We don’t want it to be a heavy training session where we are all trying to show how brilliant we are and what we can do, because that would be demoralising for the majority, including myself, who have not rung dozens of quarters and cannot yet successfully ring inside bells with bobs. I want it to be joyous, and silly and exciting – we can play ART games, eat cake and reacquaint ourselves with ringing friends.
I am very aware that some of us RR recruits formed new bands, and although that has its own challenges, we have never felt isolated or suffered from being the “only new ringer the tower”. We have supported each other, and although progress might be slower when we all crash around together, morale is high. Others are not so lucky and we want to reach out to them and make them feel part of a vibrant community, that is making progress and contributing something special, although some may feel that their contributions are not always recognised.
We also want to encourage our newish ringers to become more involved in the wider ringing community. Some of us bought our ART published 50 Ringing Things at the first opportunity. I still have some gaps in the My Ringing section, but In My Tower and Out and About were easy to cover. I have been lucky in that people have actively helped me to contribute and be involved, although more time spent perfecting my handling would probably not go amiss… Others have not enjoyed the same opportunities to get stuck in and this is their chance to join the association and to feel welcomed into something bigger than their own local tower.
So if there are any ringers out there in Norfolk and Suffolk who started learning as a Ringing Remembers recruit, or even later, and they fancy a fun day at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich with other novices at their own stage of learning, put 4th April 2020 in your diary. Further details will follow!