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Okehampton Deanery Bell Ringing Competition
June 8th 2008
Okehampton Deanery comprises 22 churches and each year it organises a Bell Ringing competition to find the best pullers on the block! 2 of the 22 churches have bells that are 'unplayable' (which means they are out of action), but the rest boast active and enthusiastic teams of ringers who clamour (!) to prove they are the best each year. This year it was Hatherleigh St Johns' turn to host the contest and 15 teams competed - 7 Full, 5 Intermediate and 3 Novices.
Before the start, Hatherleigh Captain Steve Fawcett (that's him right) opened up the tower in an effort to show anyone who was interested just what is involved. He is ap-pealing (!) for new blood and if you're interested in joining in - Wednesday Evening at 7.30pm is the practise time, but please give him a ring (!) first as he'll probably suggest you come along slightly earlier to get some practise. He told (!) me that you'll be pulling for real within 3 weeks. Why not get roped in (!)?
The contest was set for 4pm and Secretary Geoff Baker told us that it would be over by 7.50pm. That's a lot of pulling, we said; how can you be so accurate? We know the ropes (!), he replied mysteriously!
We went along with our camera to shoot some of the ding dong action but found ourself banned from the tower during the pulls because 'they need to cencentrate'! How much they need to concentrate we found out shortly before the 'off' when Steve found time to help a couple of novices 'learn the ropes'. Our pictures show one unsuspecting trainee, and the look on his face tells you a lot. The other novice was ... us ... and even with Steve's sound (!) support it was not easy to time things right so we dropped a few clangers (!). But it was fun - and safe thanks to the patience of Steve. The Hatherleigh pullers are a nice bunch of people so we may go along shortly to see if we can match up to their high standard.
Speaking of high standards, Chagford won the main competition. Apparently they tower (!) over everyone so no-one was surprised. But Hatherleigh triumphed too - in both the Intermediates and the Novices Classes - with the same team, which confused us a bit. We learned later that Hatherleigh Bells are more difficult than most to handle so having the home advantage is a big ... well, advantage.
The judges hid in the Band Room and the performances (which include ringing up, then performing a full peal, and then ringing down - we hope we got that right) are judged on the number of faults made. 51 seemed to be the max faults we heard about afterwards, which seems not bad considering the way that the peal changes so subtly every few seconds.
Why do so many good things in Hatherleigh involve pulling?
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