Thoughts on returning to ringing offered by Giles Blundell

Given that no-one has yet suggested a date for us in England to come out of lockdown, you might think that it's a bit early to be asking this, but I don't think so.

Even if we all come out of lockdown at the same time (unlikely) to being able to fully freely associate and ring together (also unlikely) it doesn't seem likely that everything will be just as it always was. Some ringers will no longer feel up to ringing (whether through their age or health): others will have found other things to do: some will one way or another have fallen out of contact: some, sadly, will have died.

We're not out of Covid yet, but I hope I am not being wildly optimistic to hope that we're nearer the end than the beginning. So we should be starting to think about what we should do once we're back.

The Central Council and the Association of Ringing Teachers have pulled together some thoughts on this at

and there's something there for everyone - whether you think of yourself as a member of your tower band, or as a leader, or a branch or association officer. Please have a look at it, and see what you can use.

But my personal suggestions would be:
  • is my analysis of how things will be right? I'd suggest that it's for branches to ask their towers or members of their best guess of how they will be when all this is over - let's get some real information instead of my speculation!
  • in the light of what we know, what should we do in the short term? Are there ringers or ex-ringers we can encourage back? If we have three towers with only a couple of ringers continuing each, should we encourage them to ring together at one tower each Sunday?
  • how, in the longer term, do we rebuild? Should we be setting up schools to teach bell-handling at one tower in an area, before learners move on to their permanent home tower?
  • what, in England, can we learn from the experience of other places with ringing who have already managed to tackle Covid? That's not just Australia and New Zealand - it's also the Isle of Man.

    My feeling is that Covid has not fundamentally changed anything for ringing - but it has pulled some threatening declines forward by maybe five or fifteen years. So if we want ringing to continue, we can't afford to take a watching brief and see what will happen. We need to get our best information to predict what will happen - and get ready to act if we don't like the prediction.

    Giles Blundell