News of events

Read the monthly news from our teams around the South East.

Look out for news of forthcoming events, and hear about recent rallies.

Tell us about what your team is doing now!

Christmas 2016

Chairman's Chat November 2016

As I write this the world is still digesting the results of an exceptionally heated American election, the nights are getting darker and the days colder, and it is the time that we remember those who have fallen in war. But I am always heartened by those people and groups who work towards reconciliation. One of those groups quoted these words from Leonard Cohen, whose death has just been announced:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

By the time you read this many of you will be getting into the swing of the Christmas performance season. You will have done the work to learn new pieces or improve old favourites in order to ring as well as possible but may be very aware that you are not perfect - I know I am. But when you perform, forget those worries - just play your best and enjoy being part of the music. Let your love of the music come through and you will bring joy to your listeners as handbell music so often does. I know many of you will also help to bring happiness in other ways as you perform, by raising money for charities, giving others the opportunity to sing along or have a go on the bells etc.

Looking forward, next year is our Golden Anniversary year, beginning with a choice of two venues for the Birthday Rally. Other things are happening throughout the year, but I hope you all have October 7th in your diaries so that as many as possible of you can get to one of the simultaneous events around the region on that day. We already have halls booked in Kent, Oxfordshire and Surrey and are hoping to add more venues so that no-one should have to travel too far. As your team renews their membership do encourage everyone to join this year so that no-one need miss out on these events for members.

And finally, committee nomination papers are now available. If you would like some input into what we do as a region you will be very welcome to join us. And we are still looking for one or two Sussex county reps.

Enjoy your seasonal ringing, and I wish you all a merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Gay Cooper

Christmas Concert by St Lawrence Chobham

Friday 16th December, 7.30. St Lawrence Church, High Street, Chobham

Hosting a rally

Would you like to host an event?

Something for the Golden Jubilee on October 7th?

A regional rally, a mini or micro ring, a County get-together?

Please contact the Secretary (email #), a committee member or a County Rep to talk about it... please let us know!

Autumn 2016

Chairman's Chat

After the summer break, teams across the region are now back feeling refreshed as we ring together and some are even beginning to think of Christmas. Some of us went as far as Vancouver for the 17th International Handbell Symposium where we met with old friends and new from four continents. More of that in the newsletter and the next Chat later this month, but you can hear the final massed concert here.

Not all teams had a summer break, and some ringers have been busy. People enjoying a Staycation in the Godalming area had the opportunity to take part in introductory ringing sessions courtesy of Janet and Peter Davis on behalf of the Lammas Ringers - see the report below.

Other teams have featured on BBC radio or TV as part of the BBC’s Get Playing initiative, which aimed to inspire amateur musicians across the UK and bring them together in celebration.


St Denys HR, Stanford in the Vale were featured on Radio 3 in early August when their rendition of Sandra Winter’s Cwm Rhonddha was aired on the “In Tune” programme, and can be heard here. They were one of just ten amateur groups including symphony orchestras and wind orchestras which were chosen for this honour. See the report below for more information


St. Mary Teddington and Brockham Handbell Ringers have been busy filming their contribution to the BBC’s Virtual Orchestra, and have the certificate to prove it! The virtual orchestra is made up of people all around the coumtry playing instruments as diverse as accordions, bagpipes, recorders, handbells and even eggs as well as all the more usual orchestral instruments. There were even parts for sitar and steel pans! Everyone was challenged to film them-selves playing the Toreador Song by Bizet, keeping in time with a video of the conductor, Marin Alsop by watching, listening, or relayed via group conductors.

The BBC’s technicians put together a composite video with over 1200 musicians and over 50 different instruments which was featured on the Last Night of the Proms celebrations on September 10th. Videos had to be submitted by late August and excitement grew - would any handbell ringers make the final cut? We became more hopeful when some ringers were featured in a photo-montage and were pleased when St Mary Teddington were featured in a preview on the BBC Breakfast Show. Then the day came and six handbell teams had their moment of glory together - St Mary, Brockham, the EAR Team and Bellfolk from East Anglia, the Northern Bell Orchestra and yours truly. Watch the video here until 10th October.


Finally, one of the aims of Get Playing was to encourage people who have previously given up a musical instrument or who have never played to experience the joy of playing again. So if anyone reading this has rung in the past or has never rung but would like to, do get in touch with me (email or the Secretary (email #).

Gay Cooper

Christmas 2016

Bellprints Christmas Concert Saturday 10th December at 7.30 pm

At Rudolph Steiner Theatre, 35 Park Rd., London NW1 6XT

Tickets: Full price: £20, £18, £15. Concessions: £16, £14, £12. Book online at:

Bellprints is a handbell ensemble comprised of Jessica Lok, Christine Chan, Phoebe Yeung and Janice Lai.  These four outstanding musicians are all handbell directors of various community choirs, churches and schools. Bellprints firmly believe that everyone should be blessed with the joy and happiness evoked by the music handbells produce.   Bellprints want to share the pleasure and joy of handbell music, especially with the elderly, vulnerable, troubled and underprivileged members of our society. Using handbell music to accompany,comfort and elevate the hearts and spirits of people in times of need, somewhat akin to the Mary Stevenson poem “Footprints in the Sand”, is Bellprints stated objective. It is Bellprints sincere hope and belief thatthrough handbell music everyone can be someone else’s bellprint too.

November 2016

2016 Uk Bronze Concert

Make a date in your diary to come to the concert at 3pm on Thursday, 27th October 2016 in the Holiday Inn Hotel (1st Floor Conference Centre), Gibson Road, Sutton, Surrey.

It will be the culmination of 4 days hard work by ringers attending UK Bronze under the direction of Fred Gramann.

Don’t miss it! Tickets at £5.00 each. Contact Keith Rowland for details on 01252-409438/07912-352634 or email #

October 2016

Dolce Handbell Choir from Finland visits Sanderstead

We are delighted to welcome the Dolce Handbell Choir to Sanderstead on 23rd October. They will be playing at the Harvest Celebration at All Saints Sanderstead at 10 am, and are planning a concert on the same afternoon, details to be confirmed.

Dolce Handbell Choir 2016

The Handbell choir Dolce has been a part of the life of Kallavesi Evangelical Lutheran Parish in Kuopio, Finland since 1999. Its founder and director until 2013 has been Seppo Kirkinen. Since the beginning of 2014 the director has been Richard Nicholls, the Cantor of Kallavesi parish. In addition to Dolce, there is a beginners group for children of primary school age. Dolce takes an active part in the musical and spiritual life of both Kallavesi Parish and the Kuopio group of parishes. In addition to this Dolce have performed all over Finland, and made concert tours to Sweden, Denmark, Italy, the United States, Estonia, Russia and Iceland.

August 2016

Wandle Ringers and friends in Vancouver

St Denys' Handbell Ringers on Radio 3

Congratulations to St Denys' Handbell Ringers, Stanford in the Vale who have been chosen as one of 10 winners selected by the BBC and Making Music UK as part of the Get Playing initiative. They will be aired on BBC Radio 3 between 4.30 and 6.30 pm on August 3rd. The piece they are playing is "Cwm Rhondda" arranged by Sandra Winter, and was recorded on a mobile phone at a concert they performed last year. More details can be found on and Making Music have also tweeted a photo of the team, which can be seen here.

An introduction to Handbell Ringing

Janet and Peter Davies (on behalf of the Lammas Ringers) are holding "An Introduction to Handbell Ringing" as part of the Godalming Staycation week. The sessions are at The Octagon, Ss Peter and Paul Church, Godalming from 10.30 - 11.30 am on both 8th and 9th August 2016.

A hands-on experience on how to ring handbells alongside other interested participants during a morning session for about an hour. All equipment is provided. This event is free, just come along in casual clothing and enjoy making music together. 20-25 participants per session. First come, first served, please confirm attendance.

Contact Peter Davies on 01483 416177 or email # ,

The details are also on the Staycation website -

June 2016

Success for St Thomas' Handbell Team at Benson

St Thomas Ringers Anyone visiting St Thomas's church on a Thursday late afternoon in May would have been impressed by the hardworking handbell team's attempts to perfect their playing for Saturday's rally at Benson, where 8 teams would meet to share 15 minutes worth of their best playing, a much more demanding task than the usual playing together sessions many of us are familiar with.

All the hard work paid off and we were proud of our varied and entertaining programme. Our flute soloist added a touch of magic in 'Oh No John' and we all gave a near perfect performance on bells and chimes. To cap it all we were presented with a Chairman's Challenge certificate for our playing in the 'Raise the Roof' concert at St Thomas' church in April.

Well done team and congratulations to Gay and Alan for another excellent Benson Experience.

Genie Stapleton, St Thomas' Handbell Ringer

May 2016

2 O'Clock Bells play for the Chelsea Pensioners

Chelsea PensionerOne of the volunteers who helps at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, heard the 2 O'Clock Bells playing last year and thought it would be lovely if we could entertain the Chelsea Pensioners in their home in London. We were delighted to oblige, and on May 16th we headed up to town with our bells to perform a selection of folk tunes arranged by Sandra to an audience of Chelsea Pensioners as well as a good number of interested staff and volunteers - and we even managed to snap a photo with one of the Chelsea Pensioners in his bright red uniform.

Chairman's Chat

After what seemed a long and grey winter, at last we have seen some taste of summer, even if followed by torrential rain, at least in my part of the region! But whatever the weather brings, there are plenty of opportunities to hear handbells as well as to ring this summer. There was a good turnout for the annual South East Region Bell Orchestra concert at Redhill. With nearly 50 ringers there was something for everyone, from the brilliance of their opening "Peal Con Brio" through the drama of Debussy's Sunken Cathedral ("La Cathedrale Engloutie") to a chance to sing along with popular pieces such as "And All That Jazz" and Abba's "Dancing Queen". This year SERBO has even recorded a CD which is available to buy.

Next, if you are within reach of Oxfordshire do, come and hear me and Alan in concert along with Launton Ringers on May 21st at 4pm. We can offer this concert to all-comers at the low price of £2.50 as it follows a day of ringing at the Traditional Rally. We can still fit in one or two last-minute bookings for the rally as well. This will have an emphasis on team solos so bring your party-pieces. There will also be some fairly straightforward massed ringing music which can be sent by return in staff or 2-octave number notation, a quiz, and of course cake for the ringers!

In June there is a rare treat - an opportunity to hear one of the world’s top handbell teams, The Raleigh Ringers, at Redhill on the 9th or LSO St. Luke’s (London Old Street) on the 10th. Enjoy a sample of their dexterity and showmanship here. They have a large collection of different kinds of bells, chimes and related instruments which they combine to create contrasting moods and highlight melodic lines - over 29 octaves in all! If you like seeing and hearing handbells with the ”wow” factor, this evening concert is not to be missed! Then on the 11th there is an opportunity to meet the Raleigh Ringers and learn how they do it. So come back into London (or stay over) for their workshops at Whitechapel, with a choice of sessions suitable for ringers of all levels.

The following week brings three midsummer events on the 18th. Barfield Handbell Ringers will be presenting their “Midsummer Magic” concert at St Mary’s Church, Thatcham, Berkshire RG19 3PN, 7:30pm. In Kent, many ringers will be enjoying the Headcorn Midsummer Rally, and in Surrey the Sanderstead 2 0'Clock Bells will be ringing in All Saints Sanderstead at 2.30pm for the Sanderstead Music Festival. It might be a tall order to get to all three, unless you’re the kind of hardy soul who doesn’t mind driving through dinner time!

In July I look forward to seeing many of you for more ringing (and more cake) at the Red White and Blue rally hosted by Fordingbridge Handbell Ringers in Downton (the Downton near Salisbury, not the Abbey!)

And of course many of you will be able to enjoy ringing or listening to handbells at various summer events in your own localities – if you want your event mentioned or tweeted, let me know.

Happy Summer Ringing! Gay Cooper

June 2016

THE RALEIGH RINGERS WORKSHOPS on Saturday, June 11th 2016 From 9.30 am to 2.00 pm

At The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 34 Whitechapel Road, London, E11DY.

Application Form

The Raleigh Ringers have been dazzling concert audiences across the USA with unique interpretations of all styles of music, performing on a large collection of handbells and related instruments.

The UK performances of the "best handbell ensemble on the globe" are not to be missed, and as part of their trip to the UK, the Raleigh Ringers will be offering a series of workshops, there will be something for everyone at all stages of ringing.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to spend time with and learn from this wonderful group of ringers!

Classes offered are listed as attached, spaces on some sessions will be limited and early booking is advised.

Please register your interest by circling or highlighting the sessions you would like to attend and fill in your contact details. Return the form to Kathryn Hughes by email (

Once the level of interest is known, we will time table the classes accordingly and confirm session availability for you to make your firm booking shortly.

Cost: £20.00 per head, to include light refreshments.

May 2016

A concert of classical, folk, popular and pop music by Two Exciting Teams

May 21st at 4pm, at Benson Parish Hall, Oxfordshire, OX10 6LZ

  • The Launton Handbell Ringers
  • Launton HR
    Playing the traditional way since 1951
  • Gay and Alan, (as seen on TV)
  • Gay and Alan
    Showing what just two ringers can do.

Tickets £2.50 on the door. All Welcome!

Info #, 07964 615428

Chairman's Chat SE Region AGM

On behalf of the Region I would like to thank Sandra and Martin and the Wandle Ringers for organising the AGM rally. I would also like to thank all those who have helped to organise the events that many of us have enjoyed over the past year: those who have provided and led the music and taught us with patience and often fun, those who have taken on the admin, and all those team members who have greeted us as we arrived and directed us to our tables, plied us with drinks and cakes, shifted large numbers of chairs and tables etc. Particular thanks must go to Den Netley for her patience in the “will they, won't they” situation of the Guildford Cathedral building works.

Now I would like to look forward. 2017 is the year of HRGB's 50th anniversary. The whole year will be one of celebration and your committee is busy making plans, which will be publicised in due course. We would like as many teams as possible to be involved in this, and one of the criteria is that no one should be prevented from taking part in the celebrations by distance or travel costs.

So on the anniversary date itself we shall have simultaneous rallies in several places in the region at once: one event in several locations. There will be at least some music in common, but there could be an opportunity for each event to have a local flavour as well. So put October 7th 2017 in your diaries now. And if you or your team are willing to host one of these events please let me know. We are also hoping to have an audio or video link between these events, so if you are a geek or just technologically competent and would be willing to help with this please let me know.

We would also like to encourage you to have local get-togethers with other teams to share music, ideas and company with perhaps 3-4 teams. You will only need a small local hall for this, and some of you will find your own usual meeting place is large enough. It does not have to be a Saturday. You can use a weekday evening, particularly in the summer when the days are long. We were thinking of summer 2017, but there is nothing to stop you from trying it out this year. Your county reps will be very happy to support you.

One of my passions, as you know, is to make handbells more widely known and valued as a musical instrument, and we have certainly made progress in this during the year. Some have done so on a national or international basis such as KIPHRA who performed two pieces written for them by the artistic director of the international composers festival, and the celebrity handbell team who gave its first (and possibly last) performance in front of Jason Donovan on Channel 5 a couple of weeks ago under the guidance of Sandra Winter. Others have made an impact at a local level, such as the members of Barfield who were on Radio Berkshire, and the Greywell ringers who took a prominent part in the Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebrations. Other teams have made their bells heard in nightclubs, music festivals, Musical Thons, entertained Rotarians etc, or given others a chance to enjoy ringing in schools, care homes, penal reform institutions etc. Not to mention those teams who have been doing as much and more for many years but did not qualify for the Chairman's Challenge only because what they have done in the last year is not new for them. Each of these is valuable because they all help to raise the profile of handbells as a musical instrument. So that eventually when a composer or songwriter is writing a piece of music in any genre, or a promoter is organising musical events, it will seem natural for them to think of handbells.

So, moving forward I would like to encourage more teams to take up the Challenge. You just need to take your bells somewhere new for you. If you have already received a Chairman's Challenge certificate, I am happy to give out up to one per year per team if you continue to make your bells heard in new contexts.

It is not just a matter of being heard, however, it is also about the quality of ringing so that people love what they hear - and believe me, many do when they listen to our beautiful instrument! We can all listen to ourselves and continually strive to improve so that we and others can enjoy the music we are making.

That does not necessarily mean being able to ring the most difficult music, although I would encourage all of us to do what we can to improve our skills. An easy piece played beautifully can move the listener.

The massed ringing conductors at rallies often teach us a lot. I hear many good reports of Sandra Winter’s popular Bells to Go sessions. Then there are special events, newsletter articles, etc. Also Alan and I are always available to help. As a region we will do all we can do to help those who wish to learn. Do ask if there is anything you’d like.

SAD NEWS The region has recently lost two of its longstanding members, both of whom have contributed much over the years: Bridget Smith, one of our Honoured Members who many ringers will know, and Marianne Wicks, an Honorary Life Member who was an inspiration to many of us before moving to Spain some years ago and starting a group there. Both will be sorely missed.

Gay Cooper

April 2016

Ringing for England on 23rd April

This is a campaign to have as many bells as possible ringing across England on St George’s Day, 23rd April. It is to celebrate St George as the patron saint of England. 23rd April is also the day on which Shakespeare was born and died, with this year being the 400th anniversary of his death. It is felt that handbells would broaden the scope of the campaign and we would like to encourage as many teams as possible to ring on the 23rd. If this is possible, please contact Libby Alexander and she will help to publicise any events happening for St George.

It is a great opportunity to increase publicity about handbells. More details can be found at

March 2016

Colours of Spring and AGM Rally

There was a spring like atmosphere in Sanderstead for the Colours of Spring Rally, hosted by the Wandle Ringers. Despite the weather trying to snow outside, the hall was filled with cherry blossom - "Sakura", a river running through, Spring from the Four Seasons, and a Green Blade Rising, and that was just the massed ringing pieces. Much thought and practice had gone into the solo pieces and the decoration of the tables. And of course there were cakes and coffee or hot chocolate to warm us on a chilly day. Many thanks to Wandle for organising the day, and the AGM passed without a hitch.

The photos show St James Weybridge and the SAS ringersSt James, Weybridge SAS ringers


February 2016

12 Bells or Fewer Day, 6 February

It isn't always practical to take a large team or lots of tables to a performance so this day was to demonstrate what can be done with just a small number of bells. We enjoyed music for 12 Bells, 8 bells and even 6 bells (we doubled some pieces at different octaves so everyone could join in). We even provided our own stereo and quadrophonics with multi-choir 12 bell music echoing round the room. You can see more about this on our Facebook page

We also had a competition for an effective piece of music for a very small number of bells (other instruments or voices optional). Congratulations go to St Thomas Handbell Ringers, who won with their variations on Pease Pudding Hot for just 4 bells, doubled on chimes and voices. And a special mention to Martin Winter, who deserves the "No-Bell prize" for his rendition of an abridged version of John Cage's most famous piece!

Chairman's Chat for February

At this time of year the excitement and festivities of Christmas feel long gone, although it had one last flowering at the winter-themed New Year Birthday Rally. Many ringers entered into the winter spirit, with Christmas jumpers in evidence as well as several seasonal team solos, and team tables dressed for the occasion - Hampstead Norreys’ tables were transformed into a veritable winter wonderland!

Now the days just seem cold and dark, and staying indoors seems quite appealing. If you have access to a computer or smartphone why not watch some handbell videos on YouTube. As well as many good British teams, you can be inspired by world class teams such as Kiriku or Kinjo Gakuin and Prime in Japan, Hong Kong Youth and Handbell Academy, or Sonos and the Raleigh Ringers in the USA. And when you have been enthralled by Raleigh Ringers make a note in your diaries, as they will be coming over here for two concerts in June – not to be missed!

We have several events planned for this spring and summer. The Colours of Spring rally is now full, but the AGM itself is open to all members, even if they haven’t registered for the rally. Formal resolutions, with a proposer and seconder, must be received by the secretary, at least one month before the date of the meeting. Any member may speak at the meeting; questions for ‘any other business’ should be presented in writing to the secretary before the start of the meeting. If you would like to join the committee, new members young or old are always welcome, whether you have fresh ideas, technical skills, or just an interest in furthering handbell ringing. And we still have a vacancy for a Sussex county rep. If you know of anyone who is interested in learning to ring do let them know about the Learn to Play Handbells day on March 12th (download the flyer here).

To misquote Shakespeare, if you were born a team leader, achieved leadership, or had leadership thrust upon you, or even if you are an aspiring team leader or help out sometimes, April’s Team Leaders’ day is for you – a chance to learn and share experiences with others. Topics to be chosen by those attending.

If you are the kind of ringer who enjoys events which focus more on team performances than on massed ringing, there is a traditional rally just for you in May. Then in June all can enjoy a midsummer music rally in Headcorn, Kent.

Best Wishes! Gay Cooper

January 2016

Birthday Rally 9th January

The Birthday Rally in Aldershot at the beginning of January had a winter theme, and there were a large number of Christmas jumpers on show, as well as a penguin, and some very ingeniously decorated tables. The music was chosen for its wintry tone as well. These pictures show some of some of the highlights, and more can be found on our facebook page.

carol of the bells penguin Christmas jumpers

Chairman's New Year Chat


I hope everyone has enjoyed the Christmas season. If you are a ringer I hope you have enjoyed your seasonal ringing - I know many of you have been busy performing. Do let me know if you have taken your handbells to somewhere new that would qualify for the Chairman's Challenge - either by performing yourselves or giving others an opportunity to ring.

If you are not a ringer I hope you have had a chance to enjoy listening to handbells over the Christmas period. As well as live performances all over the region handbells were seen on at least three TV shows both new and old. But remember, handbells are not just for Christmas. Ringers from our Region are available for performances throughout the year and can be heard at weddings, concerts, community events, fetes, festivals - even nightclubs and river boats.

And have you ever thought of having a go at ringing yourself? If so, come to our Handbell Learn to Play Day on Saturday March 12th. As part of National Learn to Play Day, organised by Music For All, it is an opportunity to hav a free taster lesson on our beautiful musical instrument. You will learn the basics of handbell ringing while beginning to make music as a group, and if the bug bites we can give you advice on finding and joining a team. No previous musical or handbell experience required.

Ringers, please pass the message on to anyone you know who is interested in learning.

For ringers there is still time to register for the 12 Bells Or Fewer day on February 6th as an individual or as a team. We have an exciting day planned, with massed ringing music for 6 bells, 8 bells and 12 bells. Two- and Four-Choir music will have teams echoing Hallelujahs and cuckoo song around the hall. We also welcome team solos, and there is a competition for the piece using the smallest number of bells in the most effective musical way.

Although we love to play 3/5 octave music my own team found twelve bell music invaluable during the Christmas season; it enabled us to accept more performance invitations. We are lucky enough to have duplicate bells so with 2-3 ringers to each part, we could accept any invitation as long as we had least enough people available to cover all parts. That meant everyone could perform as much or as little as they wanted. Also, with just a few ringers and music stands we could often fit flexibly into spaces that were too small for tables.

Finally, don't forget the AGM rally on March 5th - you need to get your application form for the rally in now. If you are interested in joining the committee, you have until the end of the month to put your nomination form in. We are always happy to welcome someone with fresh ideas.

Gay Cooper

December 2015

St Lawrence Chobham Christmas Concert, 11 December at 7.30 pm

Full details available here

Chairman's Chat

Past Events - Autumn

It seems a long while since the sunny afternoon of Bill Butler's farewell concert of Barfield favourites, attended by handbell ringers, tower bell ringers and local dignitaries. Then in October we had two rallies on the same day, at opposite ends of the region. In Petham ringers were joined by a string quintet for music by Pachelbel and Boccherini. Meanwhile Fordingbridge welcomed SW as well as SE region ringers to their rally at Downton, just over the border in Wiltshire. You can hear their massed ringing of Dona Nobis Pacem on the regional Facebook page.

This month the favour was returned when ringers from several Oxfordshire teams enjoyed a fun afternoon in Wootton Bassett hosted by SW region. And I was glad that there was finally room for everyone at Guildford despite the planned refurbishments – thanks go to Den Netley for her patience in organising this.

If you live near a regional border (or if you are just interested) you can find out about events in other regions from their websites, or from the events listing on the national website,

Future Events

I am looking forward to seeing the best-dressed Snowman or woman at January’s Birthday Rally for members only – the region’s free gift to its members. February’s 12-Bells and Fewer day welcomes all-comers and could be an introduction to HRGB for any small teams you might know who have been unsure how relevant HRGB is to them. Then in March we have the Colours of Spring at the AGM rally – fill in your nomination forms if you would like to join the committee. March 12th is National Learn to Play Day. We shall be running a session for handbell beginners in Oxfordshire, so if you know someone who would like to learn, let them know.

Twitter and Facebook

SE Region is now on Twitter, @HRGBSE, where we are passing on handbell titbits and anything of interest to ringers or our audiences. Tweets so far have included funding and award opportunities, a concerto video with handbells, Guildford publicity and even free music! Follow us if you are on Twitter. If you tweet to publicise an event your team is involved in, mention @HRGBSE and we’ll retweet. Our website now has and Twitter feeds on the home page, and an interim (Autumn) Chairman’s Chat which includes information about playing in music festivals and about an award scheme that handbell groups could qualify for. Enjoy your Christmas ringing!

Gay Cooper

Advance Notice

The Raleigh Ringers are coming to London

Next summer we have a once in a lifetime chance to see the Raleigh Ringers, "America's premier Handbell performance group".

They will be performing in The Harlequin Theatre, Redhill on Thursday 9th June, and at LSO St Luke’s,161 Old Street London EC1V 9NG, on Friday 10th June.

Full details from Keith Rowland, tel 07912-352634 or email #

Autumn and Christmas 2015

Chairman's Autumn Chat


You can now follow us on Twitter, @HRGBSE, for a serendipity of handbell titbits, information, events, opportunities, and anything else we happen to see that might be of interest to actual or potential ringers, audiences and others. If your team is involved in an event, tweet about it to us and we’ll endeavour to retweet you. If you are not on Twitter, you can see our tweets on


One thing I discovered on Twitter is the Voluntary Arts network EPIC awards. These are for voluntary-led arts groups or projects, including music groups, which show just how “engaging, collaborative, innovative and creative” amateur arts and crafts can be. I know that many handbell teams fit these criteria, so if anything your team has done in the past year has demonstrated one or more of these qualities, find out more on and get your application in by 7th December 2015.


Recently I have been busy preparing the accounts for our local music festival. Not the kind consisting of lots of pop/rock/folk bands playing on open-air stages in a large field (although it is fun to ring bells in those), but the kind where amateur musicians young and old compete in front of an adjudicator.

The judges are not like Simon Cowell, however. They are all highly experienced musicians themselves who aim to encourage while pointing out areas for improvement and of course choosing the winners. It was the encouragement I received at these festivals in earlier days that set me off as a performer. Also, anyone can go and listen (for a small fee) - listening at a music festival is like being at a masterclass.

Several SE Region Handbell teams have done well at music festivals. It is a great opportunity to show the adjudicators and other musicians just what handbells can do and to gain useful feedback. Most adjudicators are not handbell specialists although a surprising number do have some handbell experience. Our task is therefore to produce a musically convincing performance that can be judged on an equal basis with other instrumentalists. I strongly believe that handbells played well are more than capable of not only holding their own, but of shining (both literally and metaphorically), in any musical context.

If you decide to enter a festival you would need to be equally prepared for praise or criticism, and be ready to learn from any criticism or suggested areas for improvement, but this is how we develop as musicians. In practice I have often found adjudicators to be very complimentary to handbell ringers.

You would get a certificate and a marksheet with written comments, and usually a mark or category - outstanding (90+) is rare, so is a real achievement. Some festivals also award medals and/or trophies, and may invite selected winners to perform in a final concert - an honour indeed!

Details of local music festivals can be obtained from Each festival has its own character, and some attract more advanced entrants than others, but all have a number of classes for different instruments and song types in various age groups. There may be a handbell class, or perhaps a general ensemble or miscellaneous class that teams can enter. Soloists may be able to enter a percussion class, or "any instrument not catered for elsewhere". You could find yourselves up against a steel band, a string quartet, a jazz band or a brass quintet, but that is part of the fun!

If unsure about your eligibility, contact the organisers, who are often very encouraging and have even been known to add a new class. You will also need to check that they have time and space for you to set up your tables, unless you are just ringing from music stands. Not all festivals have room for large 3 - 5 octave teams but many can accommodate 2-octave and smaller teams. Most festivals are very helpful, perhaps programming you after a break to give you time to set up. You may need to wait until the next break before you can take your equipment away, but you can enjoy listening to other classes.

So good luck if you decide to enter a music festival, and of course if it is your first time you will qualify for the Chairman's Challenge.

Gay Cooper

The Wandle Ringers in Concert

Wandle Concert

Chairman's Late Summer Chat part 1

I hope everyone has had a good summer. I know some of you have been busy ringing with your teams or at other events, while others have had a relaxing time, but I imagine most teams are back to regular ringing by now.

On a personal note, I finally had my gallbladder removed over the summer. It did cramp my style a little at National Residential Ringing Week less than a week afterwards, but I thoroughly enjoyed NRRW and was able to play in the final concert – it was great seeing a number of you there. Surprisingly it took several more weeks before I found it comfortable to sit over a computer for long, hence the lack of updates, but I am now feeling much better.

You will be receiving the next newsletter before long, but in the meantime here are a few thoughts I couldn’t quite fit into it.

Trying Not to “Air-Bell”

I was interested to hear two different suggestions from the Ringing Week conductors to solve the perennial problem of ringing very quiet notes without “air-belling”.

One was to lift the bell up in a preparatory motion before bringing it gently down and round to the point of striking. This seems to make it easier to feel and control the clapper position. The other was to strike the bell quite high in the air as you will naturally exert less force that way – this one is probably a team decision as it may look better if done by either all or none.

I’d be interested to hear of any other methods that have worked for you. If you have adjustable clapper springs (and the consent of the bells’ owner) I find it helps if these are not too tight: if a lot of force is needed to ring at all, the clapper is likely to retain too much momentum as it continues to the casting.

National Rally

By now you will have received booking forms for the 2016 National Rally at Newton Rigg Agricultural College near Penrith, Cumbria. This one really separates the sheep from the goats (or cows, horses, chickens and even the camels – those are the ones taking their caravans)!

If you have never been to a National Rally before you’ll find a great opportunity to do lots of ringing, to meet other ringers from around the country, to see other teams ringing in various styles, and to check out music and other items from the HRGB shop and any trade stands. I usually thoroughly enjoy it and often come back with lots of ideas for my own ringing. Next year’s rally promises to be another great weekend, with a good choice of workshops and master classes at all levels to participate in on the Saturday, and massed ringing and a chance for your team to perform to everyone else on the Sunday.

You’ll need to get your registration in quickly if you want an ensuite room as these are selling out fast, but you don’t have to wait for the rest of your team to decide as registration this year is individual. Otherwise there are very cheap non-ensuite rooms, or there is plenty of accommodation in Penrith for day visitors – and that caravan site!

If you are not yet an HRGB member you will need to join for 2016 in order to go, but membership is only £12 per annum and includes all these benefits.

Gay Cooper

Chairman's Late Summer Chat part 2

I hope you have had a good summer, whether you have been ringing, performing, even organising events, or just relaxing for a few weeks. I know many of you are now looking forward to the events at Petham or Fordingbridge, and later Guildford.

Many of us enjoyed a golden June day celebrating Barfield’s 50 years as a team. As I write I am looking forward to their concert this month, the last under the leadership of Bill Butler. Thank you, Bill, for your contribution to handbells over 65 years!

In July I enjoyed the Stage and Screen Rally at Sanderstead. Many teams entered into the spirit with Pirates of the Caribbean, cowboys, South Pacific, and the host team in 50 or so shades of grey! And as for Martin’s suit of many colours.....! You can see photos of these and other events on the regional Facebook page. You don’t even have to be a Facebook member – just visit

It was good to see many of you at the National Residential Ringing Week, where we learnt a lot from conductors Emily Li and Michael Glasgow and our own Tim Willetts. I always find national and international events inspiring and come home tired but brimming with ideas! Plans are well under way for next year’s National Rally near Penrith, Cumbria – a beautiful area – and booking is now open. I am told that you need to book early to be sure of getting your preferred room type.

It is now possible to spread the cost of national events (National Rally, NRRW or UK Bronze) with prepaid vouchers in multiples of £10 from HRGB Sales. These can also be bought as gifts – far nicer at Christmas than those bathroom “smellies”!

If you want to combine a holiday with a superb ringing experience, consider the International Symposium in Vancouver next summer. You’ll be inspired by the ringing you will hear - particularly some of the young East Asian teams. Enjoy massed ringing (level 3 – 5), a good choice of workshops, team solos and making friends across continents. Email the National Secretary to register.

Best Wishes! Gay Cooper

Barfield's 50th Anniversary Concert

Come along to help the Barfield Handbell Ringers celebrate 50 years of handbell ringing in a special anniversary concert at St Mary’s Church, Church Gate, Thatcham RG19 3PN on Saturday 26 September commencing at 3pm.

For tickets (£6 full / £5 concessions), please contact Dianne Rogers - Tel: 01635 867421 or E-mail:

July 2015

Summer Concert at St Lawrence, Chobham

Friday 17 July at 8 pm

St Lawrence Chobham Handbell Ringers, Musical Director, Tim Willetts, invite you to a Summer Concert: Including:

  • “Danse Macabre” (the theme tune to Jonathan Creek)
  • “Moonlight Serenade” (made famous by Glenn Miller)
  • “Memory” (from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats”)
  • “The Entertainer” (Scott Joplin)
  • “Summertime” (George Gershwin)

St Lawrence Church, High Street, Chobham, GU24 8AA

Refreshments available, Tickets: £8 per person, family ticket £20

Please contact Tim Willetts ( any team member for tickets and information


May/June 2015

Chairman's Chat

It was good to see many of you at the National Rally in April. I’d be interested to know what you thought of the different format, with workshops on the Saturday and massed ringing and team solos on the Sunday morning. South East region was well represented in the workshops and also the team solos, which were of a generally high standard and made the whole morning feel like a concert.

Once again SERBO has done us proud with their May concert appealing to all tastes, with popular, classical and original pieces and finishing with a spirited rendition of The Muppet Show, helped by at least four Kermits and friends.

As I write I am looking forward to this summer’s two themed events - the Barfield Golden Anniversary Rally and the Stage and Screen rally at Sanderstead – I love the way SE Region teams always enter into the spirit of themed rallies. Then in October there is a choice of two rallies on the same day in opposite corners of the region: Petham in East Kent, near Canterbury, or Fordingbridge in Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest.

Congratulations to Barfield on their 50th Anniversary this year. This makes them two years older than HRGB, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. Your committee has already begun to think about how we might celebrate this within our region and we would like your views – see the separate article.

Well done to Headcorn, who tell me that they completed my Chairman’s Challenge on 28th March by taking part in a 12-hour Musical-thon, which raised over £2700 for the Heart of Kent Hospice! Also involved were singers, guitarists, bands, choirs, accordions, sax, cello, ukulele and (a little bird tells me) Frindsbury HR.

The next newsletter is not due out until late September, but come back to this website and the Facebook page for more Chairman’s Chats and other news. Let us know if you bring bells to somewhere new!

Have a good summer!

Gay Cooper

June 2015

Free music from RpB Music, follow this link to download a letter with all the details.

May 2015

Logo Competition

The "Design a Logo" Competition ended on 1st June 2015

April 2015

Chairman's Chat

Hallo everyone! I hope you all had a happy Easter.

Chocolate Bell We spent a few days in France where it was good to see beautifully decorated chocolate bells as well as the chocolate cockerels, hens on nests, cows, sheep, and of course eggs and bunnies.

Congratulations to Headcorn Ringers, the first team to let me know that they have fulfilled my Chairman's Challenge as part of a local 24 hour event. More info and possibly photos to come.

It was good to see many of you at the National Rally, and to meet old friends and new from other regions. The format was a little different from usual with Saturday devoted to workshops and Sunday morning devoted to massed ringing and team solos. The team solos, including several from SE Region, were of a generally high standard which made the mentioned whole morning feel like a concert.

The next SouthEast Region event is the annual South East Region Bell Orchestra concert in Redhill on May 9th - a great chance to see what can be achieved with 7 octaves of bells plus chimes. Tickets £10, adults, £5, under 16. Box Office 01737 276500

This summer we have two themed events to look forward to. A great chance to dress up yourselves and your tables or just to enjoy ringing. So get your application forms in for the Barfield Golden Anniversary Rally on 6th June and the Stage and Screen Rally on 4th July and I look forward to seeing you there.

If you haven’t yet finalised your summer plans, I am told there are still a few spaces on the National Residential Ringing Week, visit for more information, although the deadline for the cheaper rate has now passed. This is a unique opportunity to ring under the baton of two inspirational conductors from overseas as well as our own Tim Willetts. Emily Li, the founder and artistic director of the Hong Kong Handbell Academy, has been instrumental in promoting handbell ringing in Hong Kong. Over the years she has trained many young handbell performers and conductors, and her success is apparent to anyone who has heard the excellent ringing of some of the young Hong Kong groups. Emily is also an accomplished and graceful soloist who is a pleasure to watch as well as listen to. Michael Glasgow from the USA is a highly experienced conductor, who has a master's degree in choral and handbell music. He has won a number of awards for his compositions and those who were at the last NRRW in 2013 will remember his sheer energy as well as his musicianship.

And finally, some of you may have heard of Ringing for England. This is a campaign to celebrate St. George’s Day each year by ringing as many bells as possible throughout the country at the same time, 6pm, as bells are an important part of our heritage. At first publicity went mainly to tower bell ringers, although handbell ringers have also been invited to participate. There was not time to let everyone know for this year, but I know some of you have become involved, either on handbells or as tower bell ringers. However, I am hoping that more handbell ringers will be able to take part next year, when St. George’s Day is also the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Gay Cooper

March 2015

Chairman's Chat

First let me say how privileged I feel to be your new Chairman. As I heard the massed ringing and team solos at the AGM rally it was apparent how far we've come as a region in recent years, although that does not mean we cannot improve further - I know I can! Now I’d like to look outwards.

My vision for handbells is that they should be publicly accepted not just as a niche interest, but as a musical instrument which has its place anywhere music is heard: in popular, film and serious music, from the classical concert hall to the rock festival, from the folk club to the nightclub, and in thousands of venues large and small around the country. I want to hear bells sounding alone, but also with a choir, an orchestra or a brass band, and on a singer's backing track. For this to become commonplace anyone who arranges or promotes events or who is writing or arranging songs or other music needs to be aware of what the instrument we all love can do.

So my challenge to you is to take your handbells to at least one type of venue they have not been to before - the places other bells haven't reached! Perform, or perhaps give others a chance to try out ringing. Some teams enjoy ringing locally but have you visited all local venues yet? The market place or green, the church, local events and fetes, shopping malls, the WI, civic events? The school, Scouts, Guides etc? Or the variety show, the pub, even a nightclub? Other teams I know have already rung in most of these places as well as stately homes, castles and palaces, abbeys, cathedrals, on boats and county radio stations, even in a prison. Those teams may find it harder to think of new venues but I know they will rise to the challenge. Have you tried competing against other musicians in local amateur music festivals, or joining them in open mic or acoustic nights?

Let me know where you have made your bells heard. Email me direct on, or write a note for the Newsletter.

I look forward to seeing some of you at April’s National Rally and more of you at the Barfield 50th Anniversary Rally on June 6th and the Stage and Screen rally at Sanderstead on July 4th, both of which should be fun.

Happy Easter! Gay Cooper

January 2015

Chairman's Chat

Happy New Year to you all

Our excellent Birthday rally at Caterham, which really has got 2015 off to a great start. Many thnaks to Daniel and All Saints' Warlingham for all the effort they put in and to all the teams who rang with such gusto! Thanks also go to the 6 conductors who got everyone really involved in their pieces, even if at times they had trouble keeping up with us!!!

The next event in the diary was the Bells Plus Day at Benson. This was an exciting day exploring how other instruments, voice, percussion, backing tracks, and even movement could enhance bellringing. Have a look at our facebook page for a video of the "Drunken Sailor" on a cacophony of instruments.

The 28th February sees 'The Not Quite March Rally' at Poole, swifltly followed by the AGM and Rally at Godalming on 7th March. The application forms for these events are on the information page or the What's on page.

The Committee Nomination form is also available on the information page. Experience on a Committee is essential, but none of us are getting any younger, and we need new Committee members to make sure we continue growing in strength for the future. We have five meetings a year, held on a Sunday afternoon, with tea included. Admittedly we have to travel further on some occasions, depending on where the meeting is held, but being in the afternoon the majority of the travelling is in daylight, Please consider joining us very seriously.

Happy Ringing!

Valerie Boon

November 2014

Chairman's Chat

Hello Everyone

Since the last chat we have visited both the East Kent Rally in Petham, and the following week, a rally in Fordingbridge, Hants - so both were at opposite ends of the region and some careful map reading was necessary! Both rallies were well attended and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Next came the rehearsal at Broadwater school for the Guildford Cathedral festival service, followed in November by the Festival itself. This was a really great event - possibly one of the best ever! Thanks go to Den, for her impeccable organisation and patience in having to change the layout several times to accommodate extras or people crying off at the last moment.

Matthew was, as usual, great with the baton and carried us through, it seemed, effortlessly. The rehearsals were lively - I would think he could make a good "stand-up" if he gave up the day job! Thanks also go to Liberty on the trumpet - only 12 yeras old and a really accomplished musician - and to all the teams who took part. I do hope you enjoyed playing as much as those listening did. There has been some excellent feedback.

Now, I'm sorry but I'm going to have a bit of a moan! I don't think it was actually stated this year, so this is really a reminder, but when John Belcher is playing his Voluntary at the end of the service all ringers should be sitting still! From where I was sitting I could see several people actually stand up to remove their music stands, and fidgetting with other pieces of equipment. Everyone wants to get out as quickly as they can, but the Service is not finished until John plays his last note.

Our next event is the Birthday Rally on 10th January 2015 at the de Stafford School, Caterham. I hope you have all sent back your forms to Daniel.

Happy ringing and Happy Christmas, Valerie Boon

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