Bellringers of Belper welcome the Games with musical art

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A Belper church welcomed the Olympic Games to Britain by taking part in a national bell-ringing project organised by a leading modern artist.

On Friday July 27, 21 ringers aged between three and 75, chimed church bells in the ringing chamber of St Peters Belper or stood outside the church, ringing handbells, for three minutes.

They were all taking part in Work No. 1197 by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed “All the Bells in a Country Rung as Quickly and Loudly as Possible for Three Minutes” from from 8.12am to 8.15am.

The work was commissioned by the London 2012 Festival as a ground-breaking new work to celebrate the start of the Olympic Games.

Gill Hughes, ringing master at Belper St Peters, said: “Our national body, the Central Council of Church Bellringers, was contacted. Bellringers weren’t keen on the project to begin with because it’s about ringing as quickly and as loudly as possible. But then they realised it was a chance to get people involved and we decided that rather than ring them as ringers we would invite people to chime them.”

Gill, of Becksitch Lane, has been ringing for 40 years.

She said: “We let people chime the bells rather than ringing it properly when the bell goes through 360 degrees. You have to swing the bell so the clapper hits the bell. I’ts like controlling the weight of a small car! It was a bit mad and it was a challenge but it did promote some community involvement - and let people know about bellringing.”

Bells were rung at the Houses of Parliament and at hundreds of other churches up and down the UK.

Mr Creed, who controversially won the Turner Prize for art with a light switching on and off, said the idea was that the whole country should reverberate with ringing to greet the Olympics; that people should ring on their own, or in groups, wherever they were.

Big Ben pealed 40 times in the three minutes. It is believed to be the first time the strike of Big Ben has been rung outside its normal schedule since 15 February 1952, for the funeral of King George VI. The bells at the National Assembly for Wales, Stormont in NorthernIreland and the Scottish parliament all rang out, and other participants included bellringers in the Shetland Islands.

If you would like to find out more about bell ringing please contact Gill on 01773 823115.