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National Youth Contest, Worcester, 5th July 2014

Since I was chauffeuring Bridget (Jones-Crabtree) to and from the event, my day started in Leominster where I picked Bridget up from her Grandparents. I discovered that her Grandparents had made sausage sandwiches for Bridget and I, although I think we could have easily fed the entire Poachers team with the sandwiches we were provided with. From Leominster, we arrived in Worcester shortly before 10:00am.

I had no idea where I was going, but fortunately Bridget knew exactly where we were meant to be going and very expertly navigated us to a suitable car park and subsequently through the streets of Worcester to the Cathedral. So by about 10:10 I was sitting outside the Chapter House wondering exactly where I had parked the car. Eventually the rest of the team turned up and we went into the Chapter House to register. It turned out that Ellie (Sargeant) had also been supplied with an infinite number of sandwiches and between Ellie and Bridget, we could have opened a small shop!

Ringing at St. John-in-Bedwardine
Outside Old St. Martin in the Cornmarket

Once we had registered, we each got a coloured wristband, an orange one for the competitors and a green one for the helpers. We set off from the Cathedral and walked across the bridge to St. John-in-Bedwardine for some pleasant ringing on the 8. After ringing, we decided to head back into the centre and to the competition tower (Old St. Martin in the Cornmarket), so we could listen to some of the other teams ringing this very light ring of 8 (technically the back 8 of a ring of 10).

After this we made our way back to the Cathedral to have a go on the simulator. The simulator is a ring of 8 dumb bells located directly below the main ringing chamber. Each bell has it's own laptop connected and can be rung (with ABEL) independently of the other bells. The ringer wears headphones, so they do not disturb, or get disturbed by the other ringers. Thus it is possible to have 8 ringers all ringing something completely different on their own dumbbell via ABEL.

Ringing on the Simulator at Worcester Cathedral

From the Cathedral it was decided to make our way back to the competition tower, grabbing some food on the way. Since we all had complimentary deals at McDonalds included when we registered, you'll never guess where we ended up!

Feasting at McDonalds
Waiting to ring in the contest

From McDonalds, we made our way back to Old St. Martin in the Cornmarket to be greeted by some bad news. Someone had broken the stay on the 6th. This could be a big problem. However it turned out that since this is a 10 bell tower and the competition is only being rung on the back 8, some bright spark had removed the stay off the treble and put it on the 6th. OK it will be a bit like fitting a matchstick, but these are light bells and with a bit of care it will hold.

After the usual photographic session, the Poachers went up to ring their practice piece. They did their signature introduction of individually ringing every bell hand and back twice to ensure the ropes were the right length before doing their practice piece. After dinging the treble and second a few times to alert the judges, they set off into their test piece, starting with their other signature move of "pairs cross". You could see people nodding and thinking "Ah! Must be the Poachers then!" Anyway the ringing went very well despite our misgivings about the dodgy stay.

From left to right: Bridget Jones-Crabtree (Washingborough), Ellie Sargeant (Messingham), Hannah Watts (Welton), Imogen Evans (Grantham), Josh Myhill (Epworth), James Taylor (Willingham), William Cherry (Grantham), Joe Waters (Alford)
Back view

The Poachers re-appeared and seemed pleased with their performance. After a brief stop in Audio-T so Bridget could buy some Ernie Ball Super Slinkys (they're guitar strings by the way!) the intention was to head over to All Saints for some more ringing. However the webmaster was kidnapped at this point and forced to go shopping in HMV. Isn't life terrible!

Ringing at the Cathedral

Several hours later Bridget, William (Cherry) and I escaped from HMV our wallets very much lighter and our bags very much heavier and made our way to the Cathedral to ring on the 12. This involves going back to the simulator room and climbing a narrow staircase to reach the ringing chamber. These are a 48 cwt ring of 12 and it is fair to say that they are a bit challenging. You really have to pull them quite hard or else they drop on you. I settled for ringing the 10th at a mere 25 cwt. I think all our young ringers did really well to ring them as well as they did.

View from Cathedral roof
On the Cathedral roof

On leaving the ringing room I was a little surprised to find our group turning and going further up the stairs. Apparently the roof was open. Anyway just after the ringing room, the narrow staircase suddenly became impossibly narrow and I was having great difficulty getting up the stairs with my rucksack on. Just when I thought I would have to backtrack, I reached the top and made my way out onto the roof. It was quite a struggle and I wondered how the others had managed to get their bags up on the roof. However top marks have to go to Bridget who had somehow managed to wrestle a full sized Fender Strat (guitar) onto the roof.

The Bells of Worcester Cathedral
Waiting on the College Green

After taking in the scenery for a while, we made our way down and congregated on the College Green in anticipation of the results being announced. The individual team members went in first, and once the 16 teams were seated there was a general scrum as the rest of us jostled for seats.

The organisers introduced the head judge which was David Pipe and then the assistant judges. One of them looked very familiar. Isn't that Alistair Cherry I see up on the podium? Alistair has been a member of the Poachers team in the past, but is no longer eligible on account of being over 19. So he is now a judge. A sort of Poacher turned Gamekeeper you might say!!

I recognise that man!

Anyway to cut a long story short we came joint 4th with a score of B-. The full results are below.

Call Changes category:
1st Team 14: Bedfordshire A*
2nd= Team 6: Essex Young Eagles B+
Team 8: Young at Herts B+
3rd Team 5: 3 Spires B
4th = Team 15: Bath & Wells B-
Team 13: Lincolnshire Poachers B-
5th = Team 4: St Martinís Youths C+
Team 7: Ely D.A. Young Ringers C+
6th Team 2: Worcester Cathedral C
7th Team 3: Vectis Youths C-
Method category:
1st Team 11: Yorkshire Tykes A
2nd = Team 12: Oxford D.G. A-
Team 1: The G. & B. A-
3rd Team 16: Suffolk Young Ringers B+
4th Team 9: Sussex Young Ringers B
5th Team 10: Derbyshire Dingers C

After the results and presentation of medals, we made our way back outside where a Hog Roast had been set up. Much cooked porcine meat products were consumed while we sat about on the College Green and enjoyed the evening sun. Eventually it was time to leave. Bridget fortunately was able to re-trace her steps and find my car and we set off back to Lincoln, along with William, since we were heading his way.

Hog Roast on the College Green

Another thoroughly enjoyable outing for the Poachers and their support team. Next year the competition will be in Oxford on Saturday 11th July 2015.

Jonathan Clark