On Saturday 8 September, Josh (17) and I (15), accompanied by Susan Read and Tim Pett, travelled to Birmingham to attend the Learning the Ropes Masterclass, for those who have completed Level 5 of the Learning the Ropes scheme.
Each student was assigned a personal mentor to help develop their ringing throughout the day. I was paired with David Hull and Josh with Paul McNutt. Before heading to the towers, we were welcomed and completed a few listening exercises as a group, to see if we could identify striking errors and know how to correct them. We also discussed our individual objectives for the weekend.
The first ringing of the day was at St Phillips (a twelve) where we rang a mix of methods so everyone’s capabilities could be assessed. We worked closely with our tutors to develop our personal objectives and then went on to St. Paul’s for targeted ringing on ten bells. In the afternoon we experienced the St. Martin’s 16, before being joined by other groups throughout the afternoon, so that everyone could have an opportunity to ring on higher numbers. We were all encouraged to try something new, with the help of our tutors. I called call changes on 16, called touches of Stedman and Grandsire Cinques and rang the tenor at the Bullring! Firsts for Josh were ringing Grandsire Caters for the first time (a touch!), Little Bob Royal inside, a touch of Cambridge Major, Cambridge Royal inside, and Littleport Maximus (inside to a touch).He was really thrilled!
In the evening we were treated to a delicious dinner at Byrons, a burger restaurant.Later we played card games in Josh’s palatial hotel room – cheat, blackjack and spoons.
An ‘All You Can Eat’ breakfast at our Premier Inn set us up for the next day when we walked to the Bullring for some handbells prior to the usual Sunday service ringing. We were then allowed to ring on both the 12 and the full 16 for the service, as well as witnessing some impressive spliced Surprise Maximus by the famous Birmingham band. After stopping for coffee and some impromptu coursing order tuition from Michael Wilby (thank you), we headed down to St Chad’s for 20 minutes of ringing, before returning to St Paul’s. There we rang a quarter of Cambridge Major, my first of Major as conductor and Josh’s first of Surprise inside.
It was a brilliant weekend, and many thanks go to the organisers and helpers, in particular Stephanie Warboys, Simon Linford and Arthur Reeves for the time and commitment they put into making this event the huge success that it was.
Sophie Martin, Abingdon