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The sound of bellringing is part of the fabric of English cultural life, so it’s not surprise that ringers are called on to mark major events – joyful or sad.
During the last four years a lot of special ringing has commemorated ringers killed during the war, on the centenary of their death. Here at All Saints in October 2016 we rang in memory of Private Albert Victor Loader, who was killed at the age of 19, and whose father William, also a ringer, was a renowned farrier who worked at the forge in Peach Street.
Every year Remembrance is marked with ’half muffled’ ringing, which gives a sombre, dignified sound. This year as well as doing that in the morning to remember the fallen, ringers nationwide also marked the centenary of the Armistice with a lot of joyful ‘open’ (ie un-muffled) ringing later in the day.
Ringing at 12.30 was co-ordinated with government led celebrations in London, and ringing at 7.05pm was co-ordinated with a programme of nationwide bagpipes, bugles and beacon lighting. At All Saints we rang for the latter, and we also rang a special performance earlier in the evening before the service.
The other big feature of ‘Ringing Remembers’ was a major recruitment campaign. Somewhere around 1400 ringers died in the war and this formed the target for recruiting new ringers during the year running up to the centenary of the Armistice. The hope was that many of them would be able to take part in ringing for the event.
In fact well over 2000 ringers were recruited nationwide, with quite a few in Sonning Deanery towers. We didn’t have any at All Saints, but we are fortunate in being a fairly strong band. Of course we do recruit, and we aim for a steady flow of new recruits over the years, not just a one off. If you think you might be interested (or if you used to ring somewhere else and might like to take it up again) then get in touch. There is information about learning on the tower website: allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/
John Harrison (November 2018)
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