Meet the bell ringing master who has dedicated 20 years to its 'diverse and egalitarian' world

The East London Bell Ringers practise and perform at churches in Barking, Romford and Ilford

The East London Bell Ringers practise and perform at churches in Barking, Romford and Ilford - Credit: East London Bell Ringers

While most people are accustomed to the sound of church bells ringing through town and city centres, it is unlikely that many have seriously considered the world of bell ringing. 

Andrew Bond, however, is one of those who can say he certainly has.  

The ringing master of the East London Bell Ringers, Andrew, who is 53 and lives in Harold Hill, has been ringing for around 20 years since finding his way into the hobby through a friend. 

“I was at a loose end with nothing to do in the evenings, and he said 'why don’t you come along?',” Andrew recalls.  

After a couple of sessions, and drawn by the realisation that it would cost him nothing to get involved, Andrew decided to throw himself into bell ringing.  

Andrew Bond, centre, said one of the reasons he kept coming back to bell ringing

Andrew Bond, centre, said one of the reasons he kept coming back to bell ringing was because "you can make a lovely noise with other people" - Credit: East London Bell Ringers

While the East London Bell Ringers officially only started in 2019, Andrew said members have been meeting to ring via word of mouth for a number of years, with most having learned in 2004 or 2005. 

Currently, the group practices at St Margaret’s in Barking on Mondays and St Edward’s in Romford on Wednesdays.

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They then ring in Barking again every Sunday, plus either in Romford or at St Mary’s in Ilford on alternate weekends. 

The joy of bell ringing for Andrew partially comes from teaching others, he said, with it typically taking about two or three months for beginners to pick it up. 

“But what I suppose really kept me going is I enjoy that you can make a lovely noise with other people,” he added. 

Andrew said it is “really quite an achievement if you get them going”, but when you do, the result is “quite marvellous”. 

The equality and diversity to bell ringing is something you cannot replicate in outside life, says Andrew

The equality and diversity to bell ringing is something you cannot replicate in outside life, says Andrew - Credit: East London Bell Ringers

The egalitarian and diverse nature of bell ringing is another pull, says Andrew. 

As an indication of the age-range the activity attracts, the oldest current member of the East London Bell Ringers is 55, while Andrew’s son, who also attends, is 17. 

Last year the group had a member who was 90 years old, who has since sadly passed away. 

Andrew said he previously rang in a band alongside a heart surgeon and a brain surgeon, with instructions being given to them by a man who drove a digger. 

A lorry driver himself, Andrew said that mix was emblematic of the equality at the heart of his favourite hobby. 

“You cannot replicate that in outside life.”