Bellringers’ Sunday - St Peter’s Dunchurch - Sunday 28th April 2019.
Last autumn, our vicar Rev. Pat Townshend, told us that during the next year (2019), she intended to celebrate the work of the various groups that operate within the church. This was to be achieved by reserving the 4th Sundays for these services. I have to say at this point that in the 50 odd years of ringing at St Peter's we had not been featured or celebrated in this way.
We discovered that not only was our special service to take place in April but that Bishop Christopher was to be present that morning. No pressure then. I asked if it would be possible to include the Ringers' hymn and one of our Guild prayers in the service. We aimed to ensure that all our ringers (11 in total) could be there, but unfortunately two were due to be on holiday on that date.
Bishop Christopher had last been at Dunchurch for the installation of our vicar and before that he came to dedicate our new ringing floor. So he knew a little bit about us. We currently have a band of ringers ranging in age from 13 through to 80 years, with varying abilities as you might imagine. Two have been ringing at Dunchurch for over 50 years and have already been presented with 50 year Guild membership certificates. Others have been ringing at St Peter's for many years, so a faithful band. Our more recent ringers include the vicar's husband who was our Ringing Remembers recruit and two teenagers, one only ringing for 3 months but who is showing great promise.
We were very fortunate that the day before the service, our district hosted the Guild AGM, and we were able to negotiate the loan of one of the Guild Publicity pop up stands to display during the service.
So, on Sunday 28th April, during the pre service ringing, with just 10 minutes to go, there was a tap on the door. It was the vicar who asked our Tower Captain Mike, to say something to the congregation about ringing during the service. Poor Mike!
The church was full and towards the end of the Communion service, the Bishop asked us to stand with him in front of the congregation while he talked to Mike. We all thought that Mike did a great job when he thanked the congregation for their continued support of the ringers, and especially their appreciation of our ringing floor, installed in 2011. Very diplomatic I thought.
I’m pleased to say that the Ringers’ hymn and the Guild Prayer were included in the service. The Bishop made a comment about the spread of ages in our band and added that it showed continuity. He concluded by giving a blessing to all of our ringers, ending a very special day indeed.
The photo, taken by our Churchwarden, unfortunately just misses out two ringers who were also standing with us. We are left to right: Our Vicar Pat, Graham our Ringing Remembers Recruit is behind Bishop Christopher, Simon Benton, Mike Bennett (Tower Captain), Lauren Fowler, Maddie Pratt, Freda Bennett, Richard Pope, Jill Montgomery and Tony Osborne (just out of the photo).
Included in this report I would like to mention those that were unable to be present, Bruce Caldwell, on holiday in Wales and Jo Brady who was cruising the canal and river network.