A REAL APEEL

Eve feature on the bellringers of St. Michael's Church in Kirkham.'Pictured in the belltower are Heather Stewart, Sarah Yates, Terry Williams, Brian Giltrow, John Blott and Ken Jagger.   PIC BY ROB LOCK'31-5-2011
Eve feature on the bellringers of St. Michael's Church in Kirkham.'Pictured in the belltower are Heather Stewart, Sarah Yates, Terry Williams, Brian Giltrow, John Blott and Ken Jagger. PIC BY ROB LOCK'31-5-2011
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THIS Fylde group really have chance to get into the swing of things with their hobby.

The bell ringers, who meet weekly at St Michael’s Church, Kirkham, certainly hope they won’t be dropping a clanger by inviting new members to join them.

The hobby is suitable for any age, including under 16s, although they need parental permission before signing up to the group.

And there is no upper age limit, although participants do need to physically be able to climb stairs.

The once prevalent practice of bell-ringing is now slowly in decline, but the ringers of Kirkham – who belong the Fylde branch of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers – hope to help keep it going.

Those wishing to ring the bells do not have to be part of the church or attend church services, the group is open to anybody.

Terry Williams, who leads the group, said: “Church bells were rung initially to call people to worship, which they still do, as well as being rung for weddings, funerals and state occasions, for example, the wedding of Prince William and Kate.

“We also rang in the new Millennium and the recent licensing service for our newly appointed vicar.

“I find it to be an interesting hobby and it helps keep me physically and mentally fit. I enjoy meeting other ringers when I go their towers or they come to our tower.”

John Blott is a relative new-comer, as he has been bell-ringing for two years.

The 51-year-old, who is training to become a solicitor, said: “I was retiring from shift work so I found I had more time to take up a hobby and I thought I would give it a try.

“Is there anything more wonderful and joyous than the ringing of a peel?

“To be able to do that is just fantastic. We travel round to different churches doing weddings and people love it.

“It’s very easy to pick up, it’s relaxing and it’s good exercise.

“It doesn’t really matter if you’re not that good at it, because it only shows to your fellow bell-ringers.

“I am hooked on it, it’s so unusual and unique. We have a lot of good fun and it’s something open to everybody.”

And fellow ringer Brian Giltrow, 76, has been bell-ringing for around 10 to 12 years.

He said: “I live just opposite the church, literally, so one day the bell-ringers said to me why didn’t I come and give it a try and I did. That’s how it started. I liked it straight away, so I kept going with it.

“It’s good company, there are a nice bunch. We have a good laugh and get on well.

“I think Terry and I are the oldest, most of them are younger than us and there are ladies as well as men. It’s really something anyone can do, of any age.

“The ringing of the bells can be a bit difficult at first when you are a beginner. But once you get into the swing of things, so to speak, it’s great.

“It’s a very enjoyable hobby, it’s good exercise.

“I have a bad back but this helps. We have eight bells and there are usually six of us ringing at a time.

“We practice on Tuesdays and ring the bells every other week on Sundays. But we also travel to other churches to do weddings and so on, because there aren’t a lot of bell ringers about these days.

“I would advise anyone to give it a go.

“Eight out of 10 people who try it end up coming back again and again.”

Anyone interested in joining, can call Terry on (01772) 682484.

The group meets at 6.30pm Tuesdays, at St Michael’s Church, Kirkham.