Like all towers we reached a point where we desperately needed more bell ringers due to ringers leaving for various reasons. The question was how to recruit learners. We tried an open day which resulted in no takers and a broken stay. We are a combined Roade/Ashton Band and one of our ringers is a Sunday School Teacher at Ashton. One Sunday morning at Ashton she explained to the children why the bells were not rung for service that Sunday morning. Within two weeks we had six young recruits and after 18 months we have still got four of these who are now ringing call changes and starting plain hunt. Two weeks ago we had another young recruit making our young ringers total up to five (ages 10 to 12 years). So recruiting from the Sunday school has been good for us. Also we recruited 2 adult ringers from the church congregation, one has retired due to health problems. So at the moment Roade/Ashton have a band of 11. The point to be made here is that all of the learners came from the Church community in both villages. The other point is as church attenders the rector/church wardens know the ringers and we are part of the church community where we receive recognition/ support.
The other question is how to retain new ringers. The saying in our band is “if it is not fun don’t come”. The fun is things like twister, whole pull and stand etc. where an element of competitiveness is involved. The serious part is patience and appreciating what people want to ring. If someone wants to go no further than call changes so be it. If someone wants to change ring teach them. As a tower captain I must appreciate this and try to balance practice night to suit. If you try to push people onto something they don’t want to do it is counter- productive and they will leave. My objective is to supply a band for service ringing, weddings and any other Church requirements. It would be very nice to have an experienced band but that is beyond most towers especially in a village.
An important final question to put to people wanting to learn to ring is can they commit to Sunday service ringing, if not don’t teach them.