Shropshire Star

Ringers wanted to keep bells alive at Newport church

With almost everyone in Britain living within hearing range of church bells, the tolls have become a staple of British life.

LAST COPYRIGHT MNA MEDIA TIM THURSFIELD 28/04/23.Bellringers Paul Lewis, John Stokes, Fiona McKeown, Kathryn Greaves, Alan McKeown and Chris Ollivier, who are appealing for more bellringers at St Nicholas Church, Newport..

For centuries, they have called us to church, to work or to arms and provided a soundtrack to life's celebrations. But without a new generation of ringers, church towers across the country could soon fall silent.

The bellringers at St Nicholas Church in Newport however, are determined to keep the art alive.

One such bellringer, Fiona McKeown explained: "It's like a lot of these kind of hobbies, like brass bands, it's a dying art.

"You've got to use it or lose it. Without ringers the bells won't ring, it's as simple as that. Everyone thinks it's a recording but it's all traditional and by hand."

St Nicholas Church, Newport

The group are on the hunt for more volunteers, who meet once a week to practice and fill Newport streets with the beloved sound every Sunday.

"It's really putting something back into the community." Fiona added: "You don't have to be strong or musical, young or old, it's a fascinating hobby."

Bellringing began to flourish in the 1600s, becoming fashionable among the aristocracy as a hobby as it provided intellectual stimulation and physical exercise.

Technical advancements in the late 17th century saw the art become more complicated, with compositions (called methods in bellringing) creating elaborate patterns of sounds.

Fiona added: "It's not difficult to learn, but it does get keep you thinking. It's an incredibly absorbing hobby."

The group provide comprehensive training by experienced ringers, so no prior knowledge is required. Anyone aged from 10 up can take part.

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