Lesley at St Mary-le-Tower
New skill seems a-peeling
As part of the Big Skill Challenge, BBC Suffolk staff are taking on new challenges and our presenter Lesley Dolphin is learning how to ring bells.
"Technically I am enjoying the challenge and it is now something I want to master," said Lesley.
"I've always loved the sound of church bells. I used to live right next to the church in Long Melford but, because my two sons were little, I never had the time to get involved in campanology and this is a chance to make up for lost time.
"I've had two half-hour lessons and so far I've a only made it go 'ding'. I've nearly made a 'dong', but there has to be someone there in case I miss the rope."
She's been joining the ringing group at St Mary-Le-Tower church in Ipswich town centre under the careful eye of Richard Munnings, who's the Suffolk Guild Ringing Master.
Standing in the bell tower he explained some of the history: "It's hard to say but as a general rule people think it started in the 16th Century. The first peel up here was 1735, so it's been going at least that long."
Also helping with Lesley's learning is Alan McBunie. He's been been ringing for 20 years and normally pulls the ropes in Hollesley and knows all the jargon:
"It's called full circle ringing because the bell rings from upside-down to upside which is unique to England really, and places the English have been. Most other countries have the bell hanging down and they're hit with a hammer."
It's that technical aspect which makes it a challenge for beginners.
"There are back strokes and hand strokes and the 'sally' is the fluffy bit to hang on to," said Lesley.
"There's a big wheel to help you swing the bell. When the bell is up one way the rope is only a quarter of the way round. When it's swung round the other way the rope is three quarters of the way round, which is why you have to pull the rope at different points."
You can hear more from Lesley on her weekday programme 1300-1600 hrs and also on her Saturday breakfast show 0600-0900 hrs which focuses on gardening.
It's never too late
If you know someone who has changed their life through learning, you can nominate them for a Big Skill Award 2009 by clicking on the 'Learning & Skills Council' link on the right.
The Big Skill Awards are open to anyone over the age of 14, who lives and learns in the East of England.
The seven award categories are:
A celebration of award winners will take place across the region in June 2009.
last updated: 07/04/2009 at 16:43