Handbell Ringing at Sweet Surprise
by Jono Chapman
On Friday 15th February I taught handbell ringing to a group of people with learning disabilities at “The Sweet Surprise Cafe” at Ilminster, Somerset. I was assisted by Lily and Tobias from the Cary Branch.
First of all four experienced ringers rang Rounds and Call Changes to show them what it was all about. Then I introduced myself and told them what we were going to be doing and how we were going to do it.
I got them to have a bell each just to have a go at ringing it and told them how to flick the bell up and flick it down to get the handstroke and the back stroke. Then after a while I got them to pair up and try to follow each other. After they got the hang of that I split them into groups of four so they could ring rounds. That was very successful, so I got them to ring Rounds on eight. While they were ringing it I shouted out the number of each bell so that they would know when to ring and keep the rhythm going. Then I asked them to shout out the number of their bell themselves as they rang. They all did it without any fuss.
I taught them what places meant so that they could have a go at Call Changes. Then I asked them what they were doing to see if they understood, and before we started I made them shout out the number of their bell again, making sure they knew what order the bells were in. I shouted out the order that I wanted them to ring in, and they were able to do it without any trouble.
It was a very enjoyable experience, both for them and us, and we especially enjoyed the cakes that they had made for us! Some of the students asked if I could go back and do it again, so hopefully we will be able to arrange that. (As long as they make some more cakes!)