Bell ringers hope concert will help boost recruitment drive

Some of Stretham's restored hand bells

Some of Stretham's restored hand bells - Credit: Archant

A concert of popular and classical music performed on handbells is taking place in Stretham, on December 6.

The Bottisham Handbell Ensemble

The Bottisham Handbell Ensemble - Credit: Archant

The event, taking place in St James’ Church, is being held to raise funds for the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers’ recruitment and training.

Children from the 1st Little Thetford Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade will join the well-known Bottisham Handbell Ensemble and the Cottenham Handbell Ringers in performing a varied programme of Christmas-themed and other well-known musical pieces.

This will be followed by a demonstration of change-ringing by a team of handbell ringers to round off the concert.

Members of the 1st Little Thetford Girls and Boys Brigade, who will be performing.

Members of the 1st Little Thetford Girls and Boys Brigade, who will be performing. - Credit: Archant

Phil Bailey, Ely Diocesan education officer, said: “Funds for the recruitment and training of new church bell ringers are urgently needed if this 400 year-old unique traditional activity is to be kept alive into the 21st century.

“The facts that there are twice as many ringable church bells in the Ely Diocese as there are competent ringers, and that the average age of bell ringers is around 50 illustrate why we need more recruits – especially amongst the younger age groups.”

Money raised will be spent on publicity campaigns, recruitment events and the setting up of ringing education centres, the first of which will be at St James Church, in Stretham.

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Admission to the concert is £5 for adults but free for under-16s. Seasonal refreshments will be available in the interval. Tickets are available from Stretham Stores, Peter Binns on 01353 649428, Jane Dunseath on 01353 649232, or at the door, subject to availability.