Yesterday the churchyard at St Mary’s was full of noise, but this was not the ringing of bells; it was the live bands and PA system of the annual parish barbecue. The churchyard was also full of people from the surrounding area, meeting each other and enjoying a range of attractions.
One of these attractions was guided trips up the tower to see the bells, We arrived at 3.30pm and prepared the tower to receive our fist batch of visitors at 4pm. To start with there was a slow trickle, but from about 4.30pm until about 7pm, we were continuously showing people up the tower in groups four to eight at a time. As soon as one group came down, we had more who wanted to go up, and having seen the bells, they were then shown some live ringing and offered the chance of ringing some backstrokes on one of the bells.
Many of the people came from the surrounding blocks, or were members of the church, and had heard the bells ringing before, but did not appreciate how they were rung. We handed out leaflets and explained how they could come along and learn with us if they wished. Several said that they would. At the very least we have succeeded in engaging with the local community and the church family, and have thereby raised our profile. We are very grateful to those who have come along and helped, particularly those from the outer parts of the Surrey Association.