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The last magazine had a picture of three young ringing trainees, a nice contrast to the popular stereotype of ringers as old men. In reality the picture is a bit more complex though.
Overall, there are more older ringers than there were fifty years ago. Partly that’s demographics – many ringers who began in the couple of decades after the war are still going strong – living longer, healthier lives than our predecessors.
Recruitment patterns have changed too. 50 years ago most ringers learnt in their teens, but many now start later in life – with families off their hands and maybe early retirement. Meanwhile, pressures of school and other activities compete for the time of youngsters, making it harder to learn.
But despite the preponderance of age, the young end of the ringing community is thriving. The records for the youngest to ring a quarter peal (¾ hour), and a peal (3 hours) – 6 & 7 respectively – were both set in recent years. The Ringing World National Youth Contest has gone from strength to strength since the first one in 2011 (in which one of our ringers took part).
In January, young ringers set two more record. Bands with an average age under 16 first rang a 10 bell peal at St Paul’s Birmingham and then a 12 bell peal on the difficult bells at Melbourne Derbyshire. I know a couple of the ringers and have been impressed with the speed at which they progressed to ringing things more advanced than I will ever be able to ring.
At All Saints we’ve had ringers as young as 9 and as old as 85. We look forward to extending the range at both ends in future.
John Harrison (February 2018)
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