The Pilgrim Ringers
The Pilgrim Ringers are a local Guildford team with two and a half octaves of handbells. We practise weekly on Monday afternoons 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm at Normandy Village Hall (click here for map).
Our team was founded in 1989 by a group of folk dancers. Since then, the team members have nearly all changed as people have moved away or become elderly and our standard has improved as some of us have become advanced ringers. We currently have a team of lively friendly members and have given over 300 concerts.
Concerts are given to local groups, WI members, elderly and disabled people. We welcome new members aged nine to ninety, but it helps if you can read music. We gain satisfaction from giving pleasure to others and we have a lot of fun in the process. For further information please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concert held at the Guildford Club for the Visually-Impaired
Musical Director: Shirley Aston
Shirley Aston January 2009
In January 2009 The Pilgrim Ringers celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a festive lunch, created by ourselves, to which we invited past members and others who have helped us over the years.
Photo: Ralph Page
We have come a long way from our early beginnings, when a group of us, most of whom could not read music, met once a fortnight at Wanborough Hall, Surrey, where, in those days there was no car park, the local residents did not like us to park outside their cottages and the muddy lane was full of potholes and unlit, so we had to carry torches as well as all our equipment whenever we met. Gradually, the members who didn't really want to be there drifted away and others came.
The Handbell Ringers of Great Britain offered a course on conducting in 1991 and thus we acquired our permanent conductor and musical director. By this time we had a core of members who could read music and we agreed to meet weekly for practice. The first rally which we attended was at Old Woking and we learned to play the St. Antony Chorale which was four lines long! We played our first team solo piece, a simple version of My Grandfather's Clock, at a rally in St.John's, Woking. At Christmas 1993,four years since our founding, we finally plucked up courage to give our first concert. It was at a Care Home in West Horsley where we played carols for half an hour. Steady progress and improvement of skills has taken place since then and we have now given over 250 concerts in the Guildford area. Our current team consists of fourteen lovely and enthusiastic people.
We had a new bell engraved to commemorate our 20th anniversary. It reads:
"The Pilgrim Ringers 20th Anniversary 18.1.2009"
Shirley Aston 2019
Weedkiller and compost, BBQs and cooking utensils. Not the usual surroundings for a handbell concert. But it was our way of celebrating our 30th anniversary. For our 20th anniversary we had had a shared lunch and an inscribed bell. Our Silver Anniversary had been a joint concert with our neighbours, the Lammas Ringers. At the HRGB 50th we had hosted a mini-rally. So it was felt that something different would be interesting. Therefore it was decided to play at a garden centre and to make a collection for WaterAid.
We chose Squires at West Horsley and the managers and staff could not have been more accommodating. We didn't want to play in the obvious place, the cafe, because once the collecting tin had been passed round the diners, it would be some time before the clientele changed. To reap the best benefit we needed to be near the exit. An ideal spot was found alongside a wall, adjacent to a checkout and an entrance door.
We played for an hour, had a half-hour break for refreshments, and then played the same programme again. Finally members and friends, having asked permission, seated themselves on nearby garden furniture. So we had the support of a small audience for the whole afternoon.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, the staff had a novel experience and the customers saw and heard handbells, some for the first time. They generously donated £135 towards WaterAid which provides water and toilets for Third World countries.