York & North Yorkshire

York Minster sacked bell-ringers: Carillon player suspended over 'supporting volunteers'

York Minster
Image caption The bells at York Minster are expected to remain silent until the New Year while a new head bell ringer and peal team are being recruited

Another bell-ringer has been suspended after speaking out against the sacking of 30 volunteers who peal the bells at York Minster.

The bells fell silent on Tuesday when the volunteer bell-ringing agreements were terminated for a new team.

Dr John Ridgeway-Wood, who plays the smaller carillon bells, said he was "sad and shocked" by the sacking.

York Minster said: "We don't discuss confidential issues relating to staff and volunteers."

In a letter sent to Mr Ridgeway-Wood on Thursday, the Reverend Canon Peter Moger said the carillon player's comments had breached the Minster's volunteer and social media policies.

Mr Moger said he had been "suspended with immediate effect in response to the intemperate comments about the Minster... and the similarly objectionable quotes attributed to you in the media concerning Chapter's decision to review Bell Ringing at the Minster".

Mr Ridgeway-Wood has been invited to a meeting "to discuss these concerns".

Image copyright Dr John Ridgeway-Wood
Image caption A letter informing Mr Ridgeway-Wood of his suspension was sent to him on Thursday

"Should you choose not to meet with us, your Volunteer Agreement and relationship with the Chapter of York will have to be terminated," Mr Moger said.

'Absolute travesty'

Mr Ridgeway-Wood said: "I won't be meeting them so basically I've been sacked.

"All I said was 'I'm shocked and saddened about the bell-ringers being sacked.

"It's sad when freedom of speech isn't allowed."

A petition calling for the sacked bell-ringers to be reinstated to peal the bells on Remembrance Sunday, Christmas Day and New Years Eve has received more than 5,000 signatures.

Bell-ringer Alice Etherington, who set up the petition, said: "It's an absolute travesty what's going on here."

York Minster said the bells would remain silent until the New Year while a new head bell ringer and peal team were being recruited.

Carillon bells are played using a keyboard.

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