12th November 2017
Dear Ypres Bells Supporter,
Hope this message finds you all well.
I am very pleased to say that the dedication weekend in Ypres was a great success, thanks to all of you that came over and, on a personal note, thanks for the many cards and gifts for my birthday! Much appreciated.
Over 170 people traveled from many parts of the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe to be present at the blessing service on Sunday 22nd October. The service was led by the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, The Right Reverend Dr Robert Innes, we were most grateful to Bishop Robert for this. The church was very full, standing room only, with donors and bell ringers being joined by church members and VIP’s from Ypres and beyond. The Charles T. Coles handbells were rung during the service and, the Ringers Hymn was re-instated at the 11th hour!
Immediately following the service in the church, the clergy and 8 ringers went up to the ringing room where the room was dedicated and named “The Bertram Prewett Ringing Room” and straight after that the new bells rang out Ypres Surprise Major to the delight of the ringers and the assembled crowd outside. Following the dedication ring over 100 bell ringers tried the new bells! As they will, I hope, attest, they sound great, especially in the wonderfully appointed ringing room, more of that later! Many donors and interested people were also able to visit the ringing room and, with the bells “down”, were able to chime “their” bell and have a demonstration of a bell being raised. Many others watched on the TV screen in the porch, which is part of the information/education aspect of the project. The screen alternates between the belfry, with a great view of the bells, and the ringing room.
Later in the afternoon the sound control was closed and those present were able to appreciate the reduction in outside volume that this new system achieves.
Some coverage of the events of the weekend and the delivery of the bells are as follows:
The Ringing World issue dated 13th October 2017 carried an article, complete with photographs, of the delivery of the bells to Ypres, thanks to Linda Garton for writing the article.
The Ringing World issue dated 3rd November 2017 carried a front cover article complete with photographs, thanks to Will Bosworth for travelling over and for putting the article together.
The October issue of “Old Glory” Magazine carried an article written by Colin Harris on the collection of the bells from Loughborough before they headed to The Great Dorset Steam Fair, complete with some great photographs. The November issue of the same magazine carried a two-page spread with photographs which covered the delivery of the bells to the church via Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Menin Gate, thanks to Barrie Woods for putting the article together and for the great photographs.
Amy Harris from BBC Midlands joined us and has sent two links, this one will take you to the TV report that Amy filmed and edited for BBC East Midlands:
This one will take you to a radio report that Amy created that aired on around 10 local BBC stations up and down the country, from BBC Leeds to BBC Jersey. You can listen to it here:
We hear that the new bells will feature for two minutes on the Home Service of the BBC at 05.43 on Sunday 12 November as part of their Bells on Sunday series – This will be using a recording made on 22nd October by Andrew Gordon – Mike Orme who is currently responsible for the submission of the broadcast schedule for approval each month writes: “It is also hoped that in the breaks where nothing seems to happen during the Cenotaph service that day, the story of Ypres bells and the interviews will be used.” Do watch or at least listen out for that.
Others have written articles for other publications and Parish Magazines, we are grateful for this coverage.
There are many people that we need to thank for the “near” completion of this project, firstly the Clergy, initially Rev. Brian Llewelyn and latterly Rev. Gillian Trinder. The Church Council, including Churchwardens Ricky Beets and Peter Hawkins for allowing us to proceed.
We certainly need to thank all the donors who have, with their contributions, allowed a first-class job to be done in all aspects of the installation.
Some of the many people that have helped with the project we thank here:
John Arnold has been our main contact at the church, without John’s help and knowledge we would not have been able to start the project, let alone complete it!
Liz and Jon Millward for all your help with the events of 31st August, 21st October and 22nd October – all very much appreciated.
Jan Dewitte for the catering on the 22nd October – wonderful, enjoyed by all!
Charles Quartley, Rev. Andy Rider and Michael Fowle for reading the scripture during the two services.
Adrian Dempster – the structural engineer who gave us the confidence to go ahead with the project.
John Taylor & Co Ltd for the production and installation of a wonderful new ring of bells, all their staff have pulled out all the stops to produce a wonderful ring of bells that sound fabulous and “go” beautifully. This includes the directors, foundry staff, steel fabricators, carpenters, bell tuner, blacksmiths, clapper makers, transport drivers, bell hangers and backroom staff. It was great that a number of them joined us at either or both of the services.
David Town – who made the eight bell wheels, all works of art, it is a real pity they are hidden away (but you can see them on the TV screen).
Ian Staves and David Gardner – who designed, constructed and installed the state of the art sound control system, again, a beautiful job that it is a pity to hide away. Ian Staves also supplied and installed the Audio-Visual equipment and liaised with the local electricians. There is a small amount of work to be completed on the sound control system that could not be done until the bell installation was complete, it is hoped that this will be completed by Christmas.
Glyn Pears, Mick Angrave, Mark Goodfellow and Ashley (Ash) Smith for designing, building and installing what must be one of the most beautiful ringing rooms that I have seen – fortunately, this is available to be seen by ALL visitors to the tower!
The handbell donor John Coles and we thank Steve McEwen of Whitechapel Handbells for his wonderful work to restore the handbells to their full glory. To the handbell ringers at both the dedication service and blessing service, these were Linda Garton, John Loveless, Harm Jan de Kok, Christine Darby, Peter Sanderson, David Town, Jennie Town and Will Bosworth.
Tim Noad who created the wonderful front piece for the Memorial Book, see attached, Tim will be writing the memorial book over the coming months. Flora Ginn will be binding the memorial book and will be making the visitors book and ringing records book – they will be wonderful.
Our friends from the Dartford Choir, Margaret Apsley, John Woods, Alison Dixon and Debbie Rolfe, thanks very much for your great singing.
Mike McKeon and William Leetham who represented the Friends of St George’s Memorial Church at the service and have offered support over the length of the project.
The wonderful lorries, the 1915 Thornycroft and Dennis. The drivers, John Marshall, John Arthur and Ricky Cockcroft and the low loader of E & N Ritchie, driven by Stuart Ritchie and Vince Allen – we appreciate your skill and professionalism and engagement with the project. Also for the help provided by Tom Stanforth, Christine Darby and Tommo Thompson during the Great Dorset Steam Fair and the bell delivery operation. To Martin Oliver and Rolie from the Great Dorset Steam Fair for their support and sponsorship of the transport of the bells from Loughborough to Ypres, a great pleasure working with you. Also to William Nicol (Aberdeen) Ltd who sponsored the ferry crossings for the lorries. Thanks also to Duncan Pittock who bought his Daimler WWI lorry, built in Coventry, over for the bell delivery.
Kolonel Christophe and his staff for assistance with storing the bells and lorries at the Ieper Army base during the delivery stage, we very much appreciate this help.
Paul Foster for his help with many of the logistical challenges of the delivery stage – ask and it was done!
To our local contractors, Patrick Vandenheede for the decoration, Janick Maselis for carpet fitting and the staff of Knockaert Gerrie for the electrical work in the tower.
To Linda Garton for organising the ringing bands on the blessing service day.
To Wilfred Grove of “Big Wilf’s Bell Muffles” who kindly supplied a new set of muffles in the trademark bag! Thanks Wilf, your help and advice is much appreciated.
To my fellow trustees, Ian G Campbell and David R Smith for their help, support and good counsel over the period of the project and to our dear friend, Philip Vracas, who was not able to see the completed project, but would have loved what has been achieved.
The last few weeks of the project have been a whirlwind, but I hope you are happy with what has been done.
Our work is not over yet! The next stage of the project sees the exciting development of putting the necessary groundwork in to start teaching a local band to ring, we have engaged with the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) to work on that, we have some prospective ringers already enthused and are waiting on the church community to recruit some more new ringers - I will update you on that in due course.
Please note that the bells will be rung this weekend as follows:
Saturday 11th November 2017 – 08.40am until 09.15am and then approx. 10.15am until 10.45am
Sunday 12th November 2017 – 10.00am until 10.30am and then approx. 11.15am until 11.45am
Finally, may I take this opportunity to thank you once again for your enthusiasm and support, without which this project would not have been “almost” completed.