Bellringer at St Thomas’ church, Heptonstall will attempt to ring 10,000 changes on the bells on Saturday 4 October 2014 in an attempt to set a new record.
A team of 8 ringers will be aiming to ring a peal of over 10,000 changes, which will involve approximately 6 hours’ continuous ringing.
Vicar Howard Pask said: “Over the years, our bells have regularly been rung for 3 hour peals (5,000 changes) and I have often received favourable comments from parishioners about these performances. The last 3-hour peal was in early August and the next one will be not be until mid-November, as we felt that we should leave an extended interval before and after the record attempt on 4 October.
“I used the word ‘attempt’ and, for the ringers, this is the key to the challenge they have set themselves. For this peal to be accepted as a record by the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers it needs to meet a number of important criteria and success is by no means guaranteed.
“The ringers obviously have to be able to rise to the physical challenge of ringing the bells continuously for six hours, but they have also to be able to execute the pattern of changes (or ‘method’ as it is known) throughout that period, to ensure that the 10,000 changes are rung correctly, with the 8 bells ringing in a different order each time.”
To ensure the correctness of the ringing, a team of umpires will be present, taking turns to observe and check the ringing within the bell tower throughout the performance. If successful, the peal on 4 October will not be the first record to be established on the bells of St Thomas’.
Back in 1927, the longest peal in the method known as Oxford Treble Bob Major was rung on our bells: 17,824 changes, which took 10 hours 51 minutes to complete. This achievement is recorded on a tablet inside the bell tower. The following year, 1928, saw a similar team of ringers return to St Thomas’ to attempt an even longer peal, 22,096 changes, but this unfortunately came to grief, apparently through physical exhaustion, after 10 and a half hours.
The method to be rung on 4 October is “Heptonstall Delight Major”. This was first rung, at St Thomas’, in 2001, but to date the only peals have been of the ‘standard’ length of 5,000 changes. The attempt on 4 October is scheduled to begin at 12 noon and, if all goes well, should be completed shortly after 6pm. The ringing will be dedicated to the memory of Colin Ashworth, in appreciation of his dedication to the care and maintenance of the bells of St Thomas’ for over 50 years.
If you have any queries at all, please contact Rev Howard Pask, Vicar of Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall.