Sheffield bell-ringing mum pulls out all stops

Mother and son bell-ringers at Eckington Parish Church, Andrea and Tom Walker.
Mother and son bell-ringers at Eckington Parish Church, Andrea and Tom Walker.
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Andrea Walker may have been reluctant to take up bell-ringing but five years after being roped in she cannot deny its ap-peal.

When the Sheffield mum-of-three tagged along to watch her son being ‘shown the ropes’ of bell-ringing, she had no idea the noisy skill would soon become one of her favourite pastimes.

The 43-year-old accounts assistant spent months perfecting the art and now, five years on, regularly rings the bells at Eckington Parish Church, along with her husband David and their three boys, Christopher, William and Thomas.

Andrea of Mosborough, said: “We’re a family of bell-ringers. I would never have thought we’d grow to love it as we have, but it’s such an interesting and challenging hobby. It requires a lot of practice and I refuse to be beaten by anything, so it really brought out my competitive side.”

Andrea said she and her family fell into the bell-ringing by default, after Christopher, her eldest son, needed an activity for his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. The Tower Captain at the local chuch dutifully took him under his wing, before inviting the rest of the family to have a go for themselves.

Andrea said: “I was adamant I would just watch, as I already have more than enough on my plate to keep me busy, but of course I tried it and then I was hooked.”

And Andrea reveals there is more to this particular skill than first meets the eye.

She said: “It’s been a slow process, but I love a challenge. It took several months of practice to learn how to control the bell and then to be able to ring it alone. Once you have mastered ringing the bell, you then have to learn how to follow another and ring in time with it.

“Once I had mastered call changes, where the bells are called in a different order, I progressed to ringing before the Sunday morning service and soon after was allowed to ring for my first wedding, which was incredibly nerve-wracking on somebody’s special day and, as the bride can often be late, you can be ringing for quite some time.”

But Andrea said it was a proud moment when she rang her first quarter peel recently, which involves keeping the bells ringing non-stop for 45 minutes – and she was particularly thrilled to be able to ring the bells at her own mum’s wedding two years ago.

The whole family still attends to ring on a regular basis, often joining in practices at other towers and they even visit other towns and cities on organised ‘ringing tours’.

Andrea said: “It’s a great way to meet new people and practice nights often culminates in winding down in the pub which is nice. It’s a fantastic and very satisfying hobby and I urge anyone, young or old, to have a go.”