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It has been an eventful year, with the return of the restored bells marking an important landmark. All Saints now has a much improved ‘instrument’, which we can pass it on to those who come after us, confident that it should be in good shape for at least another century without major work.
As with many landmarks, this one is as much a beginning as an end. The work on the bells was the first part of the project, begun in 1999 as part of Celebrating Community. It is what people in the community will notice, as they become used to the fuller, richer sound of All Saints bells, reminding them of the Church’s presence in Wokingham. Inside the tower, we still have two challenges ahead.
One is to progress the second part of the project – to improve the thermal environment in the tower, and the associated internal acoustics. Back in 1999, we assumed that everything would be done together, but things change. The bell work proved much more straight forward than the rest, which allowed it to go ahead. The solution for the tower environment is now linked to other investigations into the environment of the whole of the building, and its possible effect on the fabric. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to solve one problem before understanding the wider picture. Inevitably, that will inject a considerable delay into the second part of the original tower and bells project, but we hope to progress it as soon as the wider picture becomes clear.
Our other major task is to rebuild the strength of the ringing band. Our numbers have declined in recent years and we have been stretched to maintain regular ringing. Experienced ringers have moved away, and new recruits have not fully made up the balance. We now plan a sustained programme of recruitment and training over the next couple of years. It takes a long time (and a lot of work) to train and develop a new ringer, and it is more effective to start a few at a time. We are about to start training our first batch of volunteers, and in an era when fewer young people are taking up ringing, we are particularly pleased that they are all youngsters – Emily Mellor, Mhairi Miller and Toby Hopkins. We wish them well for their future ringing careers.
John Harrison ( November 2004 )
Introductory words and prayer used before ringing on the morning of 14th November:
“As we gather for the first time to ring the restored bells for service, let us remember the work of our forebears as well as our own generation that gave us both the bells and the skill and knowledge to ring them, let is dedicate ourselves to ringing them well, and let us commit ourselves to handing on to future generations the tradition of ringing in Wokingham, for the benefit of both the church and the community.”
“O Lord God, who through your Holy Spirit has given your servants many gifts of knowledge and skill, give us the grace to extend those gifts and to use them always to your glory and for the good of all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”
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