16th June at Kempston
The 25th Ridgman Trophy was held on Saturday, 16th June 2012 at All Saints', Kempston (10, 17-2-4), by kind permission of the Revd Stephen Huckle. The rather secluded location in a village near Bedford enabled at least one incoming car to check out the helpfulness and topographical knowledge of local residents (full marks for both). This interesting church, surrounded by huge trees, is beautifully situated on the banks of the River Great Ouse. The neighbouring triangular courtyard, reached by an archway through a row of cottages, contains the old village school (still in use) and the church hall where waiting ringers were stabled during the day.
The hard-working Kempston ringers produced not merely a striking competition but also a ringing festival. Handbell ringing took place in the church hall. Alistair Donaldson's Maplestead mini-ring was housed in the church's south porch, and demanded every bit as much concentration as the big bells - at twice the speed. Several neighbouring towers had kindly agreed to open for general ringing during the competition, a popular initiative which added interesting variety to the programme. The wonderful refreshments provided by the local band rather impaired one's willingness to venture over to the churchyard to hear the ringing. As a result, many people missed the most dramatic moment of the competition, when the tenor clapper fell out during the second band's practice piece. It was swiftly and efficiently replaced, and the lost time was made up during the course of the afternoon. Sadly, the first band subsequently opted to withdraw, feeling that the clapper must have been loosening during their test piece and that this had impaired the quality of their ringing.
There was some lovely ringing during the day, with many appreciative remarks about these excellent bells. The judges, Jennie and Philip Earls, entertained and informed us with their comments.
Many thanks to the local band for arranging the day so well. Bravo to to winners, the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers, and congratulations to every band. The Ely Diocesan Association made an impressive leap up the rankings this year. The Cambridge University Guild fielded every student member who could ring Yorkshire Royal, including several first years. They came away with a box of chocolates, as a sort of consolation prize for drinking the most beer during the afternoon. Band photos, and other photos of the event, are here.
The 26th Ridgman Trophy competition will be on the back ten at St Laurence's, Surfleet, Lincolnshire (12, 12-0-9) on Saturday, 15th June 2013. The test piece will be a half-course of Cambridge Royal.
Barbara Le Gallez
(Text first published in the Ringing World 5287/0913)