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More than 50 respond to Hordle All Saints’ Church bellringers appeal

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AN urgent appeal by Hordle bellringers attracted more than 50 people to an open day to recruit new members amid fears that the chimes could be silenced forever.

A drastic shortage of ringers had led to worries there would not be enough to keep the tradition alive, which has been in existence at All Saints’ Church in Hordle Lane for over 400 years.

But an appeal in the A&T for more members led to lots of eager would-be bellringers turning up to a taster session held at the church on Saturday.

Would-be ringers try out the bells at All Saints’
Would-be ringers try out the bells at All Saints’

Now the church is optimistic it will be able to avoid the church tower falling silent.

Tony Webster, whose wife Faith is in charge of the Hordle bellringers, said: “It was fantastic – there were over 50 people there of all ages.

“Among them was a little girl of about eight and several pensioners in their 70s. All of them had a go and really enjoyed it.”

Mr Webster said that some of those who came along had been former bellringers while others were complete beginners.

He said: “Some had not rung for 30 years but they said it was like riding a bike – once you started again it just clicked into place.

The bells have been sounding at All Saints' for more than 400 years
The bells have been sounding at All Saints' for more than 400 years

“I think a lot of beginners were surprised by how easy it is. It can look very strenuous but as I showed on Saturday, I can ring a 600-weight bell with just a finger and thumb.”

He is now confident that Hordle bellringers will recruit enough new members to keep going and even ensure there are back-ups for holidays and illness.

Mr Webster said: “The first bell dates from 1619. It would have been so sad if they ceased pealing forever after such a long time.

“Ideally we would like a total of 12 ringers as we have eight bells, so that would ensure there were always reserves.

“But we are glad to take on as many people as would like to become members. It has been great seeing so many people interested.

“This Sunday a person who has not rung for three decades is joining us to ring the bells, which is absolutely marvellous.”

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