Gresford Handbell Ringing Team has been in existence since 1975 when George and Norah Randles, both eminent tower bell ringers at All Saints’ Church, decided to purchase 3 octaves of handbells from the Whitechapel Foundry, London. This was following an ancient tradition which began in the 1600’s when the first handbells were cast in Britain and quickly became popular among tower bell ringers for playing both simple tunes and practising change ringing. As the available range of handbells increased, the art of tune ringing was developed to such an extent that handbell teams or choirs were formed separately from tower bell ringing teams, playing more complicated musical scores using large numbers of bells.
I was fortunate to join Gresford Handbell Ringers in 1989, becoming musical director in 1990 when Norah Randles retired – since then the team has steadily increased from 8 to 17 ringers and the number of handbells now covers 5 octaves. We perform a wide range of musical genres, from classical to popular music, to a large variety of audiences. The team belongs to the National Society of Handbell Ringers of Great Britain, and meet together with other teams in the North West region for a rally twice a year. In addition to this we are always busy practising for and giving concerts at W.I. meetings, garden centres, weddings, garden parties, restaurants (many thanks to Alan at the Golden Lion in Rossett who gave us a generous donation when we played Christmas Carols there in December!) plus numerous charity performances in residential care homes, Nightingale House, church concerts and other fund raising events.
Although we’ll never become one of the 7 Wonders of Wales like All Saints’ Tower bells, we all thoroughly enjoy playing handbells together and sharing our love of music making with so many people around the Gresford and Wrexham area.