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Bells to ring out in Hornchurch to commemorate VJ Day

PUBLISHED: 10:38 14 August 2020

The bells of St Andrew's Church, in High Street, Hornchurch, will ring to mark VJ Day. Picture: Google

The bells of St Andrew's Church, in High Street, Hornchurch, will ring to mark VJ Day. Picture: Google

Google

Bells will be chimed in Hornchurch to mark VJ Day after bell ringers spent weeks doing virtual practice.

Evan Smith, six, takes part in a virtual bell ringing session. Picture: Letitia SmithEvan Smith, six, takes part in a virtual bell ringing session. Picture: Letitia Smith

At St Andrew’s Church, in High Street, alternate bells will be sounded on Saturday, August 15 to commemorate victory over Japan and the end of the Second World War.

The ringing will last 15 minutes and will begin once a two-minute silence is observed at 11am.

Clive Stephenson, tower captain at St Andrew’s, said: “The bell ringers were disappointed not to be able to ring for VE Day back in May when the Covid-19 pandemic was still at its peak.

“However, with the easing of restrictions, bell ringing has resumed at Hornchurch and we intend to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day accordingly.”

Evan Smith, six, takes part in a virtual bell ringing session. Picture: Letitia SmithEvan Smith, six, takes part in a virtual bell ringing session. Picture: Letitia Smith

The group has been meeting for virtual bell ringing sessions since the start of June instead of its weekly practice at the church.

They have been using a website called Ringing Room, which Clive said was set up by a group of bell ringers in America as a way to keep practicing together during the pandemic.

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The virtual bell ringing has been extended to younger people, with even children as young as six getting involved.

Clive said: “As expected, our younger bell ringers have been quick to master the technology but some of our not so young ringers have also benefitted from this new technology and improved their understanding of bell ringing theory considerably.”

Using the virtual technology has required slightly different skills to the physical church bell ringing, he added.

It works by participants entering a virtual bell tower, where they are assigned a ‘bell rope’ and can ‘ring’ their bell by hitting the spacebar.

“No physical effort is required but the bell ringers have to listen very carefully and count their position in the sequence,” Clive explained.

“This takes a while to learn and takes a lot of mental concentration.”

The virtual meetings are continuing to take place even though St Andrew’s has now reopened. Guidelines require bell ringing to last no more than 15 minutes, with participants having to wear face coverings and keep socially distanced.

To take part in the virtual sessions, contact clive-stephenson@sky.com.


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