Chapter 4 - Publicity, Social and Training

Publicity, Social and Training

Following the upsurge in post-war ringing training courses have been introduced and modern methods of instruction have been employed, with acknowledged benefits to those taking part. These activities became part of the remit of the Education Committee which was formed in 1991. This committee had a brief period of inactivity in 1993 but was relaunched in 1994. It finally ceased to exist in 1998 when its Chairman, Simon Farrar, left the area and no replacement stepped forward. Training is now arranged locally as part of normal Branch activities.

The Monmouth Branch has been, and remains, particularly active in this respect, holding at least one ringing course every year. The Llandaff Branch, while having run a couple of courses in recent years, has tended to use its normal Branch Practices as training sessions by concentrating on specified method(s) during the practice.

In 1999 consideration was given to setting up a Ringing Centre for South Wales. Unfortunately there was no obvious candidate tower for this and without enthusiastic backing it was decided not to proceed.

The Llandaff Branch has over the years (started when - 1988?) offered sponsorship of half the course fees on the well established Hereford Ringing Course. Any candidate needs to be nominated by their tower captain and a preference has been expressed for awarding this to younger ringers who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Although this offer has not been taken up every year those who have done so have found it of great benefit.

Both Branches regularly issue a newsletter. That for the Monmouth Branch first appeared in 1976 with several more through 1977-78. There was then a gap until 1987 when an annual issue was started by Kelvin Clayton. In 1991 Paul Warren produced two issues and then Adrian Fawcett took over and established the now current quarterly frequency. David Price took over as editor in 1995 and it was he who introduced colour in 2003. This Newsletter is now largely distributed electronically - of around 100 copies distributed nearly half are sent out by e-mail - and no tower gets more than two paper copies. Apart from the 1991 issues, copies of all these together with a Monmouth Branch History, are in the Association’s library.

The Llandaff Branch newsletter was started in 1974 with John Baldwin as Editor. A gap then relaunched in 1990 with Fr John Hughes as editor. Subsequent editors have been Malcolm Williams (19??), Alwyn Lewis (1994), Mike Thomas (1996), John Vesey (2002) and then Pat Moore (2005). Unlike the Monmouth Branch, Llandaff’s newsletter remains largely a paper-based publication and until 2006 was issued on a one-per-member basis with one copy to each tower with no members. This number of copies, produced by Llandaff Cathedral office at a very reasonable price, began to make in roads into the Branch finances and it was resolved to reduce production for 2005. This debate is still ongoing, the Newsletter representing by far the largest item of Branch expenditure after the Association levy.

A new venture for the Llandaff Branch was its first Carol Service held at St Hilary in December 2002. This continued in subsequent years at Sully, Llanishen and Llantwit Major but after a disappointing attendance at the latter it was decided to have a break. The organ accompaniment on each occasion was provided by a blind ringer, Roger Masterman, who sneakily recorded the Sully service from his pocket allowing a CD of the event to be produced.

Mention must also be made of the "Kids Ring Out" program initiated in January 2004 by Pip Penney wearing her Public Relations Officer hat. Combining "fun" activities (such as BBQs by the sea, and a visit to a steam railway) with ringing (including a walking tour between several towers), this ongoing program has involved a large number of youngsters and has proved both popular and successful. The reward for all this effort came in 2006 when KRO entered a competition run by the Founders Company, and was awarded £500. This was presented at a formal ceremony in St Woolos’ Cathedral in July 2006, when Pip was also given a handsomely inscribed glass tankard for all her hard work.

Whilst the traditional public face of a ringing association is its Annual Report, the advent of the world wide web has allowed a much more publicly accessible presence in the form of a website. The Association’s first website was set up in 1996 by Mike Richardson and hosted privately by him. When Mike’s work took him away to Geneva the website passed to John Vesey in 2000 and it was transferred to a new domain owned by the Association. A "Forum" for the exchange of news and information was added to the site in 2004 and it is currently undergoing a complete transformation which among other things will include having much more Association information available for viewing or downloading.

The social side of ringing has always played an important part, and in addition to an Anniversary Dinner held every five years, inter-Branch Cricket Matches, Skittles Matches and Treasure Hunts have been well supported, and unsuspected skills revealed. Indeed, the dinner has proved so popular that after 2003 a proposal was accepted to shorten the period between dinners to three years. The Annual Quiz, established in 1997 by Anne Jones and Fred Jackson, has also proved very popular, although not always with the winners, who also "win" the privilege of organising the following year’s Quiz! The success of these social events has been very largely helped by the setting up, in 2002, of an informal Social Committee whose main remit is to oversee their organisation.

Another "success" aspect of many of these events is that any profit made has been put into the BRF. Over the years it is estimated that not hundreds but thousands of pounds have been generated in this way.

As part of the planning for the 1993 Central Council visit plans were made to produce a recording of bells in the Association’s area. This was done with the help of Derek Carr of Bristol and produced as a cassette tape in 1992.

The Millennium was another occasion for much ringing publicity and already in 1996 the MC were beginning to give thought as to what should be done locally. When the Central Council’s Ring in 2000 initiative was started in September 1997 our Association formed a working party whose remit was to carry out a survey of the state of ringing in all the towers with a view to seeing what help would be needed and where. A questionnaire/information leaflet was prepared and two copies sent to each tower plus a further copy to each incumbent. The results of this survey were far more encouraging than had been feared and in the event all but three ringable Association tower did ring on Millennium Day while chiming took place at a number of others. In the Llandaff Branch a small roving band ensured that three towers were not silent. A fuller report appears in the Annual Report for 2000. This period also saw a very significant increase in the number of new members joining, some as lapsed ringers from years past and many more coming to ringing for the first time.

As part of the Ring in 2000 initiative, and to answer concerns about how to cope with potentially large influx of new recruits for the Millennium, a Tower Management seminar run by the Central Council was organised in late 1998 with a view to "training the trainers". This was well-attended and thought to have been a valuable exercise. The Association also entered a float in the Cardiff Lord Mayor’s show in August 1999 to raise public awareness of Ring in 2000. The old publicity boards used on that occasion have since (2003) been modernised and a new video and slide show produced to explain ringing to non-ringing audiences.

A major publicity "first" was achieved in 2002 when the PRO of the day, Julian Parker, arranged for the Lichfield Mobile Belfry to be displayed at the Royal Welsh Show in 2002, thanks to the Church in Wales who allowed us some of their space at no charge. We asked for, and got, the co-operation of the other Welsh ringing Associations for this event, and the Belfry was manned by members from a different Association on each of the four days of the show. Such was the success of this that it was repeated at the 2004 RWS, that year being their Centenary. In fact we had planned to exhibit at the RWS in 2001 but the foot-and-mouth outbreak caused the show to be cancelled. A full report of the 2002 event is in Annual Report for that year.

This mobile belfry was again hired over Easter weekend 2006 for display at the St Fagan’s Museum of Welsh Country Life. This was strongly supported by the Museum authorities and again was very successful. A feather in our cap was the totally unexpected donation received from the Museum after the event in appreciations of our efforts.

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