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!

New Year 2018

Chairman's Chat

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you have all had a good Christmas ringing season and were not too badly affected by the snow.

Do let me know if any of your ringing activities brought your bells into a novel context (for your team) that would qualify you for a Chairman’s Challenge certificate. I enjoyed hearing from Fordingbridge Handbell Ringers of their experience playing music specially written for their bells alongside a choral society, brass band and organ in a “Christmas Glory” concert.

I am currently looking forward to seeing many of you at the Small Ensemble Day at Benson on 3rd February and the AGM Rally at Caterham on 10th March.

Our Golden Jubilee year officially ends with the next National Rally in April, so if your team has not yet been photographed with one of the teddy bears contact your county rep or another bear guardian, and send your photos to the Vice Chair. You can see some of the photos on our Facebook page.

Handbell ringers are invited to Get Creative, a nationwide participatory event taking place during the week 17-25 March 2018. Any kind of creative activity can be a part of the event including arts, crafts and music. It can provide a platform to bring handbell ringing to people who may have no idea what it is like or even that it exists! It is supported by organisations such as Voluntary Arts and the BBC.

The easiest way is to benefit from the fact that many libraries will be supporting the event, so we can approach a local library and offer a handbell ringing hands-on activity and they should provide space. However other activities we may be involved with during this period could well be suitable if we are welcoming people and giving them a chance to Get Creative! For more info on Get Creative! visit the HRGB website or click here.

I have sent more information to county reps and committee members. Alternatively you can contact or our National Chairman, Tim Willetts,, who is keen to know of any teams planning to be involved. He would love to have 50 groups around the country involved, and that would make a good final flourish to our Golden Jubilee year!

Gay Cooper

Christmas 2017

Wandle Ringers Concerts

Come and listen to the Wandle Ringers as they perform three concerts this Christmas:

  • Concert and Cake at 3 pm on Sunday 27th November in All Saints Church Hall, Sanderstead.
  • "Knitivity" at 7 pm on Saturday 2nd December in Christ Church, Epsom Common.
  • The Christmas Tree Festival at Hayes Free Church, Bromley, 7.30pm on Wednesday 6th December.

Autumn 2017

Chairman's Chat

Golden Anniversary Greetings

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable summer. The Hymnfest in July seems an age ago now, but many of us enjoyed the opportunity to play and perform some of our favourite hymn arrangements. Next came the Summer Soiree, where we were greeted with a choice of Pimms or Prosecco – most welcome on a summer evening, although two of the teddy bears got up to some mischief! Read More

Summer 2017

Chairman's Chat

Many SE members were at the official launch of HRGB's 50th anniversary year at Exeter in April. The region has been presented with its Golden Anniversary teddy bears and county reps are now co-ordinating their travels. I have already seen several photos of ringers with the bears on our Facebook page, and am looking forward to seeing many more. Read More

Spring 2017

BARFIELD HANDBELL RINGERS “Mid-May Music and Mischief”

A concert by the Barfield Handbell Ringers at St Paul’s Church, Ashford Hill Road, Ashford Hill, Hampshire RG19 8AZ on Saturday 20 May commencing at 7pm.

For more information and/or to reserve tickets (£7.50, children free), contact Dianne Rogers - Tel: 01635 867421 or e-mail

Join the Riverside Ring on 20th May

Saturday 20th May 2017

As a part of HRGB's 50th anniversary we would like to celebrate by ringing out with other teams. So we have arranged for the bandstand at the Riverside Meadow in Henley to be available to us on Saturday May 20th in the afternoon. We would love teams to come there and play for the rest of us and to passers by (including those in boats).

We can fit several teams at once onto the octagonal bandstand. Layout will be in straight lines (max 21ft) or standing around music stands.

Each team in turn will perform for ten minutes or so, and we also hope to ring one or more pieces together including Robin Benton’s Dance Suite for Bells (the Golden Jubilee Composition Contest joint winner). Then there will be a changeover period while the next group of teams gets ready to ring, And so on. So it will be similar to a traditional rally but in public. We suggest choosing music that does not need too much extra equipment (extra bells, chimes, percussion etc.) to allow a quick changeover.

The bandstand is covered, has railings on the river facing side, and has power sockets so we hope to have amplification. It is accessed by 4 steps (sorry, no ramp) and surrounded by grass.

Those not ringing at a particular time can sit and watch, drink tea or coffee and enjoy the ambience of the riverside meadows. A few deckchairs will be provided but you may wish to bring rugs or picnic chairs if you have them. Hot and cold snacks, drinks and Italian ice cream are available from the cafe between the bandstand and the road. The cafe has seating inside and out, although we are not sure whether it will be close enough to hear the bells very well. The area also has other facilities including the River and Rowing Museum.

We shall be ringing at least from 2-4pm, but if enough teams are interested this can be extended by starting earlier. It is free to use the bandstand, but parking is payable (except disabled). Toilets, including an accessible one, are available nearby.

This event will be a bit of an experiment as we don’t know how far away we’ll be audible, but we are hoping it will be fun for us and will bring handbells to the attention of members of the public.

If you would like to take part, or just want further information, please email or phone 07964 615428 with your team name and ex-pected number of ringers. #

Gay and Alan

Chairman's Chat February 2017

We started our Golden Jubilee year with a bang with two great rallies in Kent and Godalming on the same day, which were enjoyed by all. I hope we can continue to make the year a special one for all members.

Within your teams you will have new music to play - a 50th anniversary composition, and an arrangement to be chosen by vote at the National Rally.

You can also enjoy making music together with other teams and getting to know their ringers. Come to a regional event - or several. We'd love to see every team at some time during this year. And look out for the anniversary teddy bear!

You may enjoy planning a smaller get together with other local teams at a time that suits you. Events do not have to be on Saturday daytime. For instance there will be a Summer Soiree at Weybridge on a July evening.

Don't forget October 7th, the actual anniversary date, when there will be simultaneous rallies in different parts of the region so everyone can participate in the anniversary celebrations without travelling too far. So far we have at least five venues, but we welcome further offers. Check the website at for details.

If you still feel that regional events are all too far away for most of your team, let me or a committee member know and we can help you to organise something in your locality.

And don't forget the National Rally at Exeter and the National Residential Ringing Week at Sheffield.

The anniversary year is a great chance to showcase handbells to the general public. Take your bells anywhere that people would enjoy live music, from a pub to a palace, from a school to a supermarket, from a riverboat to a radio show. Perform or help others to try out ringing - or both. Go as a team or a small group, or join with other local teams to make more of a splash. Look out for any local or community events handbells could become part of - fetes, festivals, functions, county shows etc.

Then let us know what you have done - and don't forget to apply to me for your Chairman's Challenge certificate if you've taken your bells to a new type of event or venue for you. I've just printed another batch of certificates so I am looking for teams to give them to!

Sway get a certificate for ringing in a farmyard - you'll have to read their article to find out more! Brockham, who are due a certificate when I see them for their part in the BBC Last Night of the Proms virtual orchestra, tell me that they have since rung in three new places since. Well done to both teams!

Enjoy your ringing!

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

For older news postings please follow this link to our archive page.

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