We were delighted at the beginning of the year to be able to hand over a cheque for £3,700 to our charity, Michael Sobell House, with money raised from our concerts. After so many performances and practice sessions, our bells were in urgent need of attention and in August 2017, thanks largely to a grant from Hillingdon Arts Society, we were able to take them to Whitechapel for refurbishment.
With our refreshed bells, we continued to ring at various venues, including a variety of clubs, old people’s homes, coffee mornings, outside Tesco stores, anywhere we’re invited. Some people like to sing along, many with great gusto, while others prefer just to listen to the bells – or a mixture of both – so we draw up a variety of programmes for the year and produce our own song books with the words of what we’re ringing.
Occasionally we’re asked to follow a particular theme, such as Irish for St Patrick’s Day, a royal theme for the Queen’s birthday, something based on rivers and the most recent request was for music with an island theme. Those specific programmes are always a challenge, but one that we enjoy, although we do need plenty of notice to source appropriate music that will work with our one-and-a-half octave bells, translate it into the numeric notation we use . . . and learn to ring it.
We store our bells and practise at the local Guide hut, where the Brownies meet, and one evening we set up our bells for their meeting. It was fun all round as they learned about the bells, had a go at ‘Jingle Bells’ and sang along with some favourites.
At the beginning of November, we were sad to learn of the death of Betty Clark, who rang with us for many years into her nineties. She was always cheerful, even as arthritis made life increasingly difficult for her and was a good friend to us. We were honoured to ring some of her favourite tunes at the service to celebrate her long and active life.
This summer our handbells have gone to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry Whitechapel Foundry to be retuned - and we are really looking forward to getting them back. They should be perfectly tuned and ready for action.
The Team are going from strength to strength and you will see that we have a large number of events coming up in November and December. We hope you can find time to attend one or organise one of your own!
We are glad to say that the Belles and Beaux team are thriving as our reputation is growing and we are busier than ever. Our next event is on 30th August at WIMMS Hillingdon then we are at the Manor Farm library on September 30th. Do come and see us in action!
Ruislip Belles and Beaux had another busy year, ringing on 47 occasions in care homes, social clubs, Tesco’s, at coffee mornings and in libraries. Gone are the days when anything above a whisper in a library earned an irritated ‘Sshh’ and we were rewarded with enthusiastic and interested audiences. We continued to raise money for our charity, the Michael Sobell House hospice in Northwood, achieving another record amount this year, so that in January we were able to hand over a cheque for £3,200. Most of us were able to be there, and the Mayor of Hillingdon came along as well to join the audience in the day-care unit as we played for them.
As ever, Christmas was our busiest time, with more than 25 concerts from mid-November, sometimes even two on the same day. This year we added some traditional Christmas songs to our repertoire of carols, and again enjoyed people singing along with us from the songbooks we’d produced. We were delighted to find ourselves ringing for audiences ranging in age from barely 2 to 100 years old
People have already made bookings for next Christmas, anxious not to miss out – as some did this year and asked for our Christmas programme in January – and we are already fully booked for December 2015. We’re being kept on our toes with some special requests, including love songs for St Valentine’s day in 2014, and we’ve been asked for an Irish theme for St Patrick’s day in 2015. That got us hunting down Irish songs, transcribing them into the numbered notation that we use, adding some harmony, then getting the hang of ringing them.
With just 1.5 octaves, we might be more restricted than many bands, but it does mean we can travel relatively easy and don’t need too much space to perform. Even so, it can be quite a squash and sometimes we use 3 music stands rather than being able to spread out on a table. We’re pretty adaptable!
In 2014 we did even better with our fundraising and were able to hand over a cheque for £3,200. Most of us were there to play for patients and staff, as well as the Mayor of Hillingdon who came along to meet us. Health and Safety regulations mean that we are no longer permitted to play at the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Uxbridge, but Tesco’s in Yeading has proved an excellent and enjoyable alternative.
In August we were back in Bedfont to take part in our second regional rally, again ringing from standard musical notation, rather than the numbers that we are more used to. We had only a few practice sessions to get to grips with the pieces but we managed it in time. The rally was a very enjoyable occasion where once again we learned a lot as well as trying out new techniques. There were five teams in all, and we were very much the smallest amongst groups with as many as four octaves of bells and lots of ringers, but we were well able to hold our own. While others performed long and complicated pieces in the two short sessions each team had to perform alone, we wowed them with a successful rendition of the Can-can and provided the highlight (for some at least) with our whistle in Popeye. As one of the organisers said, with only 6 ringers on 12-16 bells there’s nowhere to hide, unlike when lots are ringing at once. Now we’re looking forward to the next rally in 2015.
We managed to make a big difference in 2013 when we collected £2,400 for our chosen charity, Michael Sobell House. At the end of January, ten of us visited the hospice, where we entertained some of the patients and staff with a mixed programme of classical pieces and familiar songs, as well as handing over the cheque – our largest yet. This year, 2014, looks like being even better, with bookings coming in all the time. We seem to have something booked for most days from mid-December as people especially love to hear carols rung on the bells.
We are very sad to say that Barbara Wright, one of the founder members of our team passed away on the 13th February this year. Barbara was truly passionate about hand bell ringing and gained so much pleasure and enjoyment from her time with the group. She used to organize the teams schedule and was always looking for new tunes for the group to play.
the Belles and Beaux will be playing at her funeral on 4th March at Ruislip Guide Hut. Good bye Barbara - we will all miss you and your positive input to the group.
On Saturday 27 July we had the pleasure and excitement of ringing at our first wedding when Maria, daughter of team-member Margaret, married her fiancé Mike at Aldenham School. We had been asked to ring outside in the garden where the photos were to be taken, and it was a relief to us all that the weather was kind to us, with the forecast rain holding off. It was in the middle of the heat-wave, so we were also glad of our shady spot above the beautiful sunken garden, which we had time to enjoy beforehand. We all had a lot of fun, ringing a mixed programme and feeling privileged to be part of the wonderful occasion. Any concerns that the sound might not travel too well out of doors were dispelled and many people appreciated our contribution to the day. The only disappointment for us was that we had little chance to admire the bride and everyone’s outfits as we had to concentrate on producing the perfect performance!