Running a Successful Open Day

Our neighbours in Marsworth attracted excellent publicity at their 2014 open day featuring in the Hemel Gazette.  This was picked up by the Ringing World with Marsworth then sending a detailed article in reply which made it to the front page(s) of the Ringing World.

So how do Marsworth organise their open days?
  • Do the safety talk. Tell them it’s very safe hobby, just a few things to be wary of (don’t alarm them unduly!)
  • Welcome them to the tower.
  • Show them the ringing room.
  • Take them up to the belfry, talk about the bells, their history etc –  stand back so that someone down below can turn a bell over and they can see it ringing. They also like to see the clock.  Show them the view off the roof.  Let them take pictures etc.
  • Back in the ringing room, demonstrate rounds and explain the treble and tenor. Have the belfry camera on so they can see the bells ringing at the same time.
  • Get a small person to ring the tenor and dispel the myth that you need to be strong – explain it’s about balance and control.
  • Demonstrate call changes (explain theory first so they are engaged when you do it.)
  • Demonstrate doubles ringing (get them to listen out for the tenor behind and the five bells moving). Plain course only or they get bored. Show them a diagram and explain how we understand them. Dispel the myth that we have to learn all the changes by memory.
  • Demonstrate minor ringing (to show all 6 bells working).  Call a short touch so it doesn’t go on too long. They get bored in a 120.
  • Have a go at backstrokes with a teacher helping them.  Positive feedback – praise when they do something well, encourage. If nervous, teach for a few minutes with the bell down and just let them get the feel of how it swings, pulling the sally and chiming whilst the teacher holds the tail out of the way.
  • Tell them about ringing schemes and stages of learning. Answer questions, be positive.

Usually several people will sign up to come along for bell handling – Marworth usually then teach them over 2-3 days, or at least as often as they can come so that they can join in with rounds straight away. Set goals – ‘let’s aim ring open rounds for the Harvest service’ or ‘let’s be ringing together for midnight mass’. Help them feel part of the team as quickly as possible – all go to the pub together as soon as possible.

Marsworth have also built a  webpage explaining about ringing and the local context.  You can build your own or send them to the Branch website or a good national one such as  Stay away from some of the dryer ones!

Supplied by Richard Booth and Rose Nightingale