A fabulous afternoon was had by all on Sunday 12th August at Little Stoke Bank Farm, where Peter and Sue Cornah hosted a garden party in aid of St Milburga’s Church Bell Project.
In spite of the ominous weather outlook, the rain fizzled out just in time for the arrival of the Lichfield Diocese mini-ring of bells, which would form the centrepiece for the afternoon. Spanners in hand, a group of dedicated St Milburga ringers helped Phil Gay to unpack the apparatus from its trailer and set it up with all the skill (if not the speed) of a team of Krypton Factor contestants. Two hours later, a full mobile belfry had miraculously materialised and the garden party was all set to get underway.
Behind the scenes, Peter and Sue had been working round the clock to set up a number of family attractions for non-bell ringing enthusiasts, such as a treasure hunt, a campfire bake-off, a DIY puppet theatre, giant bubble making and story time in the tipi. Plus, there were always Angela & Geoffrey (Stoke St Milborough’s celebrity mini-donkeys) to make a fuss of. There were fabulous performances from Sue’s madrigal group and the Stoke St Milborough hand-bell ringers and, of course, copious quantities of tea and cakes!
The mini-ring of bells was a great success, attracting much interest from established and new ringers alike. The technique required to ring them is certainly very different from that used in a traditional bell-tower, but with perseverance, everybody was able to get them going and ring some rounds, call changes and even methods. Ringers from all over the Church Stretton district came along to offer their support and, along with those attending for the family activities, the number of attendees was well over one hundred.
In total the event raised £375 for the ongoing project at St Milburga’s to fit a new ring of bells in the tower and huge thanks should go to Peter and Sue Cornah for their hospitality and generosity in creating this event for the benefit of the community.