York & North Yorkshire

York Minster: Sacked ringing master appeals to Dean for talks

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

The former ringing master at York Minster has appealed to the Dean for discussions so the bells can be "heard again" in the city.

All 30 volunteer bell-ringers were told by the Minster that bell-ringing activity had "ceased with immediate effect" at a meeting on Tuesday.

Peter Sanderson said he would "love to know" what was going on.

Rev Vivienne Faull, Dean of York Minster, said the move was for "health and safety and security" reasons.

The Minster said the bells would be silent until Easter, with a new head bell-ringer and peal team recruited in the new year.

A petition calling for the bell-ringers to be reinstated to peal the bells on Remembrance Sunday, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve has received more than 12,000 signatures.

Image caption Before Tuesday, York Minster had a team of 30 volunteer bell ringers

Mr Sanderson, who has been ringing master at the Minster for 10 years, said he was "devastated, frustrated and bewildered" after Tuesday's meeting.

He said: "I make a plea to the Dean here and now - let's meet, let's talk and come up with a sensible and achievable plan that addresses all of the concerns which the Minster have, whatever they may be.

"That would then allow the sound of those glorious bells to be heard across the city again immediately."

Recruiting a new team and having them ring to "the standard the Minster expects in three months" would take a miracle "on the scale of the feeding of the five-thousand", he said.

Image caption The Minster said the changes were being made for "health and safety and security" reasons

Speaking to BBC Radio York, the dean said the ringers were currently an "autonomous organisation" which needed to be "brought back in-house".

She said: "We have been working through all our teams of staff and volunteers to make sure that things like security, health and safety and governance are in good order.

"I think everyone will acknowledge that ringing bells is something that needs to be done with particular attention to health and safety and security."

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