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Bell ringers, your country needs you for WWI centenary


Hundreds of bell ringers are being recruited to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War in a unique way.

The British and German governments are calling for church, military and other bells to ring out across the world in unison to celebrate the day the guns finally fell silent. The US centennial commission has a similar appeal.

There were 1,400 British bell ringers among the millions who lost their lives in the Great War and the hope is that 1,400 new ringers can be found.

“Its a wonderful sound that can go through every village, every town and every city,” says Graham Nabb, who has been ringing bells for 54 years, and now teaches people how to do it.

“It’s a wonderful way of remembering those that went to war and those that died. Bells are great messengers.”

Graham Nabb, who has been ringing bells for 54 years, and now teaches people how to do it
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Graham Nabb, who has been ringing bells for 54 years, and now teaches people how to do it

At St Mary the Virgin church in Pillerton Hersey, Mr Nabb’s team of bell ringers are practising hard to be ready to join thousands of others on 11 November.

On the ancient walls are the names of the men from this Warwickshire village who went to fight.

Back then, men mainly rang church bells. But, with them on the front line, they were rarely heard.

Across the UK, training is going well, but they still need more people.

There is a drive to recruit 1,400 bell ringers
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There is a drive to recruit 1,400 bell ringers

“What we are finding is people are stepping forward in their communities today who have a direct or indirect connection to people from 100 years ago,” says Christopher O’ Mahoney, president of the Central Council of Church Bellringers.

“So far enquiries have been fantastic for this campaign, so many volunteers, male, female, old, young, short and tall, it doesn’t matter, people are stepping forward to help with this amazing campaign.”

Ryan Kirby, 16, who took up bell ringing three years ago, said: “The hard part is trying to remember the methods used, the fun part is just ringing them.”

About 1,400 bell ringers were killed in the Great War
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About 1,400 bell ringers were killed in the Great War

Yvonne Kennedy, who took up bell ringing when she retired, thinks it helped with her fitness levels, and she finds it very sociable.

“I didn’t find it easy to start with,” she says, “but perseverance and people around me helped so we actually learned to do it properly.”

More from First World War

It can take about 10-15 hours of training to learn how to bell ring.

On Armistice Day the aim is to strike a sombre tone in remembrance of the dead, moving to a more celebratory sound to mark the peace that now exists between former enemies.



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