York Minster recruits new bell-ringers a year after sacking old team

York Minster. Pic: James Hardisty
York Minster. Pic: James Hardisty
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A new group of bell-ringers has been recruited for York Minster nearly a year after the controversial disbanding of the in-house team.

The bells fell silent in October last year when the Minster’s Chapter disbanded its 30-strong ringing group due to safeguarding concerns.

The new band - which includes some former volunteers - will take over the ringing in September.

The Minster’s 12 bells were silent on Christmas Day for the first time in more than 600 years after the break-up of the bell-ringing team.

One group of campanologists from Leeds reportedly refused to help out, in solidarity with their sacked York colleagues.

The Chapter said it disbanded the team after the ringers refused to accept its decision not to reinstate one of its members, who had been suspended following a police investigation into allegations of sex offending against children, which did not lead to a prosecution.

This member has not been named by the Chapter but is understood to be David Potter, a leading light of the campanology world, who was given an MBE for his services to bell-ringing and has never been convicted of any offences.

Mr Potter was the subject of a police investigation in 1999 which was reviewed again in 2014 but he was never charged.

The Chapter of York Minster ordered a detailed risk assessment of Mr Potter’s activities and decided he “presented an ongoing risk and that the potential severity of the risk meant they could not be reinstated”.

It said the bell ringers refused to accept this decision and so had to be disbanded.

In October, Mr Potter’s solicitor, Colin Byrne, said: “Mr Potter has no cautions or convictions or any civil findings ever made against him.

“Issues surrounding the bell ringers and the Minster is a private and confidential matter between those two parties but the process that he has been subject to has shown a disregard for due process and equally the treatment of his fellow bell-ringers.”

A Minster spokeswoman said the recruitment and induction of the new volunteer bell-ringing team had been carried out in line with Church of England safeguarding policies.

She said more than 40 applications were received from York and the wider region and the new band will be led by headteacher Angela Mitchell.