YORK MINSTER has hired a local primary school head teacher to recruit a new team of bell ringers, following the removal of the previous volunteers for what the Archbishop of York called “repeated disregard” of policies for safeguarding the vulnerable.
The bells at the minster fell silent after the team was told its services were no longer needed, although visiting ringers have since been drafted in.
Angela Mitchell, who was a member of the team for 20 years, and whose husband and daughter are also ringers, has now been appointed Head of Bell Tower, and will oversee the recruitment of a replacement team.
Mrs Mitchell, whose 12-month contract is worth £7,000 for a 10-hour week, said: “The recent history of bell ringing at the minster has been difficult and there is some healing to do. However I am really looking forward to working with the new team and I hope that the news of my appointment will help to move things forward.”
She added: “The Minster needed someone with a set of specific skills including risk assessments, safeguarding, health and safety and safer recruitment, all of which I do as part of my everyday work as a head teacher.”
The 12 bells in the tower are regarded as among the best sounding in the country. An advertisement for new ringers in the specialist campanology magazine, The Ringing World, attracted 42 applications. The advert stressed that previous experience was essential.
“They are some of the biggest bells in the country. They can only be rung by people who know what they are doing,” said Sharon Atkinson, the minster’s director of communications.
Most of the applications are from members of the previous team. Ms Atkinson said: “We had always said we would welcome them back,”