Diocesan Bell Ringers set world record

21 August 2012

Diocesan Bell Ringers set world record photo


WHILE THIS SUMMER has seen athletes from around the world set and break records on the track, in the pool and on the court, a dedicated team of a different kind set a world record up a bell tower.

Setting the world record for the longest peal of Winchester Surprise Royal, ten bell ringers who came from all over the diocese and beyond, spent an astonishing six hours tolling the ten bells in the bell tower of St Mary’s Church, Bishopstoke – with no food, no water or toilet breaks allowed.

The group, which even included a grandfather, father and son, featured John Colliss, 60, from Botley, Brian Woodruffe, 70, from Wiltshire, Ian Carey, 54, from Stubbington, Andrew Dodd, 19, of Awbridge, James Hodkin, 32, of Brockenhurst, John Dodd, 67, of Awbridge, Andrew Ogden, 41, of Staffordshire, Peter Hill, 55, of Romsey, Roy LeMarechal, 58, of Bishopstoke, and Edd Colliss, 26, of Botley.

A local connection

Whereas a single peal consists of 5,000 changes, the project, for which the team began preparing for in January involved memorising a pattern for the 10,000 plus changes that would be played to mark a double peal.

However, when deciding which peal to learn, according to Roy LeMarechal, St Mary’s Bell Tower Captain, there was only ever one real contender – the Winchester Surprise Royal!

“There had never been a long length run of the Winchester Surprise Royal before and because of the local connection I thought that had to be the one we do.”

Multiple generations inspired

Their successful record-breaking attempt was inspired by Olympics, although they chose to ring the bells separate from Martin Creed’s “All the Bells” event, carrying out their ringing the day after.

“The Olympics is about always pushing yourself to do better and setting new records – and that’s what we tried to emulate,” said Roy.

Using the analogy of running, Roy described ringing the bells for six hours (and seven minutes!) like doing the London Marathon over a more manageable five or ten km run.

While slightly apprehensive to begin with – knowing it could only take one mistake to ruin their record-setting chances, and despite a false start, the group had come into the challenge well-prepared, having all rung a three-hour peal before.

A huge feat of concentration

Despite their preparation, Roy explained that ringing a peal of 10,800 changes is not so much a physical challenge – as the heaviest bell, the tenor, weighs only half a tonne – but a mental one, requiring intense concentration and lots of stamina.

“They’re used to the first three hours, but after that they start wondering ‘Am I going to get tired, need a drink, need the toilet?’ etc.”

The group, who are “extremely pleased” with their feat, are now waiting for their record to be certified by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers.

Another for the record books?

In the meantime, there is already talk of the group preparing to set a new record next Christmas – with Roy currently considering ring a quadruple peal, an effort which would involve 10 to 12 hours of ringing!

To hear the bells in action see > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKD_dveCG2E

Pictured above (L-R): Ed Colliss, John Collins, Roy LeMarechal, Brian Woodruffe, Peter Hill, Ian Carey, Andrew Ogden, Andrew Dodd, John Dodd and Jim Hodkin