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Celebrating 20 Years of Bell Ringing

Over the 20 years many ringers have come and several have moved away, with four of the original band still ringing at St. Mary's; Frances Clementi, John Clarke, Irene Schofield and Kris Daniels.

After 20 years, Frances continues to be our Tower Captain, running a 'Democratic Dictatorship'! She has provided many of the brilliant ideas behind the most memorable of celebrations at St. Mary's, whether for Christmas or Birthday or Anniversary alike. The character of St. Mary's has hardly changed (so I'm told).

Helium balloon Celebration Cake Group discussing Bell ringers group

It was Mothering Sunday 1994 at the top of Church Hill, when the sound of bells first started calling the worshippers to St. Mary's for the first time. The event marked the culmination of an 18 month project to install eight bells in the church.

20 years along from this momentous occasion, it was decided that in true St. Mary's tradition, we should hold a celebration for the many people who have been involved with St. Mary's over the years.

So on the afternoon of the 29th March 2014 (the day before Mothering Sunday), over 80 people gathered in St. Mary's Church Hall for a ringers' tea and to listen to a half peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major which took one hour 29 minutes.  A beautiful celebratory cake, made by our choir master, was very much enjoyed by everyone.

We were delighted to see Keith Gatman, the project mastermind and members of local bands from Caterham St. Johns, Merstham and Godstone who had helped to train up the initial band. Also included in the guest list were ringers who have rung at St. Mary's over the 20 years together with many members of our current congregation who not only helped with the installation itself but were also involved with fund raising and furnishing the bell chamber all those years ago. We were able to thank everyone!

Practice nights are as much about having fun and socialising as ringing. It is this ethos which has sustained ringing at St. Mary's through the first 20 years and it is this style which will hopefully sustain ringing here long into the future.

Ross Weddell

St. Mary's Ringing Master

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