Calamity to Carillon – Arford Bells
Approximately 27 years ago Arford WI were faced with calamity as their speaker had let them down at the last moment - a panic search of the emergency speakers list found that Fred Haig from Bishops Waltham Bells could come; it was too late to gather a team together, but he'd bring the bells, tell us all about them and let us have a go. We were smitten.
A second-hand set of Schulmerich American bells were for sale from Mill Chase School so we snapped them up and started learning - just like the Covid virus we were on a steep upward curve. We joined H.R.G.B (Handbell Ringers of Great Britain). Discovered our set of bells wasn't standard to play with other groups; Fred's number system wasn't the best to play from; we needed somewhere to practice and keep all the kit... and all playing together in time wasn't as easy as we thought!
First we borrowed some bells to make ours a standard set and all learnt to read music. As we progressed we decided we would have to invest in our own 2 octave set and to this end we became independent from WI and borrowed enough money from HRGB on a three year loan to order what we needed.
There followed an intense period of fund raising - car boot sales, cake baking, second-hand clothes sales and more; anything that made money legally, and in 18 months we'd paid the money back.
Now fully equipped with the correct bells we ventured to our first knee shaking public performances; we didn't disgrace ourselves and are now much more at ease with playing to an audience.
Members have come and gone through the years and we now have seven members, a complete set of bells and a set of matching hand chimes. As well as local organisations and nursing homes, we've played at Romsey Abbey, Guilford Cathedral, Clandon Park, Hatchlands and wedding venues.
There's also a lot of fun when we meet up with other teams at rallies. The aim of these is to play big music with good conductors, but the side entertainment is to have a theme, dress up and eat lots of cake.
If you would like to try your hand at this very ancient art of music making come along on practise night and listen or have a go - no musical expertise is needed.
For further information call Christine Leonard 01428 712010.