It was lovely to see so many of you on the tour yesterday. We had a brilliant day out and I feel a few thankyous are due:
To Hilary for organising the entire day, from booking churches and lunch to organising the ringing. She worked really hard and must have been very tired by the end of the day (the rest of us certainly were).
To Barrowden, Uppingham, Braunston, Oakham, Greetham and Great Casterton churches for the warm welcome we received in each place and the opportunity to ring their bells.
To the experienced and skillful ringers who came along and although there were enough of them to allow them to have some ringing for themselves they also spent a great deal of time supporting and encouraging the less experienced. Without their greatly valued input the tour could not have been such a success and we all appreciated them very much.
We enjoyed travelling through some very beautiful countryside and it was heartening too to visit churches that were so well kept and with such pristine ringing rooms and bells in such good order. The renovations at Barrowden are spectacular and well worth a visit.
We were joined along the way by several visitors: a tourist in Uppingham, some local ringers, and most surprisingly by Jim Lilley who made a very lengthy journey by train from Shoreham on Sea to come and ring with us, notching up his 3,400th tower at our final ring of the day in Great Casterton! Jim has been ringing since 1944 and after injuring his shoulder 20 years ago he rings with one hand only. It was amazing to watch his relaxed and skilled ringing with one hand, the other placed nonchalantly in his pocket. Thank you for joining us Jim, it was pleasure to meet you.
Finally thank you to all who joined the tour and made the day such an enjoyable day out. It was very good to see many of the newer ringers in the Branch come along and tackle ringing new bells with confidence and competence and without you all and your enthusiasm the Branch would have less chance of a bright future.