‘First Peal 2015’ and the North American Guild — the year in review

January 23, 2016
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This past year marked the 300th anniversary of the first known peal, rung at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich on the 2nd of May 1715. As I wrote in April’s Clapper, one of the planned commemorations was a campaign, styled ‘First Peal 2015’, aiming to help 300 ringers worldwide score their first peal during the year. Since a more typical figure for recent years would be 160, this was an ambitious goal!

The anniversary weekend itself (May 1st–4th) was a busy one with a variety of celebratory ringing worldwide — among them several date touches of 1715 and fully 24 peals of Plain Bob Triples. (Surely a record for the method!) The First Peal 2015 campaign got a strong boost, with 18 ringers scoring their first.

Nevertheless, for most of the year we were on track to fall slightly short of 300. The pace picked up considerably starting in October, however, and the target was actually met a month early, with the 300th first-pealer scoring on the 28th of November. By the end of 2015, 387 people had rung their first peals during the year, the most since 1991 and more than in either of the two recent years with concerted bellringing buzz (2000 for the turn of the millennium, 2002 for Queen Elizabeth’s golden jubilee).

We in North America made a significant contribution to this year’s tally, with 19 residents ringing their first peals:

  • Audrey Ester and Roy Smith (11 April in Houston)
  • Barbara Grofic and Carleton MacDonald (2 May in Frederick)
  • Myles Louis Dakan (3 May in Foxborough)
  • Sarah Hale, Anthony Kanaga, and Andrew Mitchell (4 June in Orleans)
  • Abby Timmel (15 August in Frederick)
  • David Henry (30 August in New York)
  • Susan A Lagrone and Thomas A Lagrone (10 October in Hendersonville)
  • Chris Sawyer (31 October in Toronto)
  • Leland Paul Kusmer (14 November in Foxborough)
  • Andrea Falk (24 November in Wolverton, Hampshire)
  • Emily Kaplan and Kira Chase (5 December in Northampton)
  • Krystl Hall and Scott W Brennan (22 December in New York)

Hearty congratulations to each of them, and I wish them all many pleasant hours of ringing in more peals to come!

Deep appreciation is likewise due to everybody else who helped make these first peals happen, by organizing, ringing, conducting, and so forth. PealBase (an online peals database) has put together a list of those who rang alongside first-pealers this year, calling them ‘angels’; of the 1235 angels listed, our own Ed Futcher (who rang with 7 first-pealers) was tied for tenth-most worldwide. Among North Americans he is followed by John and Tina Hitchings (with 5 each) and then a host of others — it’s heartening to see how many North American angels there have been, and how many different towers and ringing areas were involved, from Toronto to Houston. This has truly been a group effort.

With 15 first-pealers scoring under our banner, the North American Guild punched above our weight in helping the Exercise meet and surpass its goal — we provided the sixth-most overall, behind only Winchester & Portsmouth (28), Yorkshire (24), Oxford Diocesan (23), Kent (20), and Salisbury (17), each of them a perennial powerhouse. For a relatively small Guild so thinly spread, we can be very proud at how well we rose to the occasion.

The challenge now is to keep this momentum going forward. What should our next goals be?

  • to recruit a new 2016 class of first-pealers?
  • to help the 2015 class score again (at higher stages or in more challenging methods)?
  • to help some of our ringers score their first as conductor?
  • to ring peals in as many North American towers as possible?

I look forward to finding out!

A version of this article appears in the January 2016 edition of the Clapper.

Now that we have closed the books on 2015, it's time to look back at the ‘First Peal 2015’ campaign, whose goal was to recruit 300 new peal-ringers, and at North America’s contribution to it.