Edwinstowe Handbell Ringers formed as a group 43 years ago. Initially comprised of tower bell ringers from St Mary’s Church Edwinstowe, they quickly recruited members from outside this circle to form a much wider group.
The handbells were borrowed, and music acquired from various sources. They rang principally around Christmas, collecting money for many different charities. The group has contributed several thousand pounds over the years to these worthy causes.
By chance members came across a set of handbells for sale at a Sotheby’s auction, and acquired them for what turned out to be a very good price. These new bells were a second-hand set of Shaw handbells, with some additions and a few duds, and over the ensuing years the group has built these into a four-octave set of some 40 handbells.
As well as playing to village groups, community organisations, and around the pubs and restaurants at Christmas, members have taken their bells out into the wider world and taught school groups, Cubs, Scouts, WIs and MUs (among others) how to ring handbells.
Realising that not everyone can read traditional music, the group sticks to a numerical notation for its own music – which has enabled them to recruit and train ringers who have no prior musical knowledge whatsoever (though a sense of rhythm has always been an advantage for anyone wishing to give handbells a try).
The group has also been used as a Duke of Edinburgh skills activity for those pursuing their bronze, silver and gold awards, which members are really pleased to encourage.
The present group meets every week on Sunday evenings in St Mary’s Church Rooms to practice and play together, expand their musical repertoire and enjoy each other’s company. They have been particularly active over the last 12 months with a series of events and concerts, including performing live on the radio at the Mansfield Christmas Civic Service, at Thoresby Courtyard and with the Dukeries Singers.
Several events are planned for the next year, both new and repeat bookings where it is a great pleasure for the group to be welcomed back to play again.
The impending Coronation in June gives a chance to try some new music, though Handel may not be too pleased to hear Zadok the Priest described, as one member put it, as ‘the footie tune’!
With 40 handbells, and ringing one in each hand, you do not have to be a great mathematician to realise the group could easily manage with 20 ringers. They are delighted when someone joins in to give it a go – and not surprisingly, it often proves addictive and they stay and join the team. If it appeals, ring John (07702 043295) or Tee (07815 951135) and go along one Sunday evening.