Young people are needed to ring the changes at St Andrew’s Church, Hornchurch

For centuries, the bells at St Andrew’s Church have been rung on Sunday mornings and for special occasions like weddings.

But the ancient art of bell- ringing may be under threat due to the lack of young people taking it up.

Bell-ringer John Stephenson said: “I think one of the reasons that it hasn’t attracted a lot of young people is because they don’t see it as cool.

Team effort

“But it’s a team effort and the good thing about it is that you can be standing next to someone who is a brain surgeon or an employee from Tesco’s but everyone is accepted and you are all working together.”

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St Andrew’s, like many British churches, has seen a drop in young people taking up bell-ringing as its 25 members have got older.

The church in Hornchurch is now launching an appeal to encourage youngsters aged 10 and upwards to take up the hobby.

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Mr Stephenson said: “I think that you can have kids of at least aged 12 or 13 ringing because there is the matter of being able to manage the bells.

“People might look at it and say that it is a male thing. But it is far from that as there are lots of women bell-ringers and you can get a whisper of a girl getting on the box and ringing a heavy bell so there are no barriers.”

Bell-ringing can be traced to the 15th century.

In the 16th century in England, bells started being hung on wheels meaning ringers had better control.

In St Andrew’s, there are just 10 bells. But it varies in different churches with some having as little as four and others as many as 16.

Mr Stephenson said: “It’s a great activity. Other people have golf and sailing but I have my bell-ringing.

“I always think of it as a football pitch, where they have different rows.

“But the good thing about bell-ringing is that you can really mix up the patterns and that’s the biggest challenge.”

n For more details about bell- ringing, call Clive Stephenson on 01708 755412 or John Stephenson on 01708 755597.

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