“No ring of bells to our ears sounds”
“The ring of 12 bells in York Minster are widely regarded by experienced change ringers as some of the best sounding bells in the country”. However, they have only been heard on a couple of occasions since the axing of all 30 volunteer ringers in October 2016. The Minster is now inviting experienced bell ringers to apply for the role of Head of Bell Tower. The successful applicant will be involved in the recruitment of new ringers and the establishment of a new band of volunteer bell ringers. The post attracts a pensionable salary of c.£7000 p.a. is initially for a fixed-term, reviewable after 12 months. An application pack, application form and equality and diversity monitoring form have been posted on the Minster’s web site. Applications must be submitted before 5pm on Sunday 26 February 2017, and interviews are to be held in York on Saturday 11 March 2017.
To a non-ringing outsider, there appear to be three issues of importance to be addressed in the appointment of the Head of Bell Tower at York: safeguarding; health and safety; and development of working relationships, within the newly-formed team of up to 36 ringers within 12 months, with the Canon Precentor, and with the wider Cathedral community. We considered some of the broader considerations raised by the sacking of York Minster bell ringers in an earlier post, Volunteers, Safeguarding and the CofE, but would not presume to comment on specific issues, or the forthcoming appointment.
Nevertheless, the recent incident in which a bell ringer sustained serious injuries whilst “ringing-up” the ~2.5 tonne tenor bell at Worcester Cathedral is a timely reminder of the importance of safety for a cathedral’s band of ringers, as well as visiting bands. The Minster’s own experience and that of other cathedrals have highlighted some of the issues to be addressed in relation to safeguarding and bellringing; this will also be an important factor in the planned recruitment of a Leader and or Teacher of Bell Ringing, and their deputies.
The Guardian reports “The bells of York Minster could ring out on Easter Sunday after it began the search for a replacement bellringing team”. Assuming a successful applicant is selected on 11 March, (i.e. the day before the 2nd Sunday in Lent), there will be a relatively short time if this deadline is to be achieved.