Nene Valley Challenge

Thrapston Branch 9th March 2024


On 9th March, a group of intrepid new bell ringers took on the Nene Valley challenge. Each participant had set themselves a personal challenge to ring at 4 different towers within the Nene Valley. There were a good mix of challenges including ringing rounds, call changes, Plain Hunt and more. Of course, this would not have been possible without the help and support of some brave and dedicated experienced ringers to help us learners and do the all-important task of signing off our cards as we completed our challenges at each tower.

The day started with an early morning registration at Thrapston before heading to St John's Church in Cranford for the first challenge. Being the first tower, we were all excited and ready to go, the bells were lighter and vastly different to what most of us were used to. This was a big learning curve in bell control, all managed to complete their respective challenge and got the all-important first signature on the challenge cards.

We then moved onto St James' Grafton Underwood, a very pretty church with a beautiful stained-glass window commemorating the men of the United States Air Force who were stationed at a nearby airbase and lost their lives in WWII (it's well worth a visit). This was another church with different bells, lighter again and another learning opportunity for all the challengers. Everyone got several attempts at their respective challenges, and all got their cards signed.

Church number 3 was St Nicholas in Twywell, another lovely church with some interesting carvings and history. We all completed our challenges and were appreciating how much of a challenge the day was and how it was helping our ringing skills. We were all beginning to set our sights on returning to St James in Thrapston for our final ring of the day on the eight bells. There was a lot of nervous excitement at the prospect of ringing on the eight bells, with some in our group having to ring Plain Hunt on seven for the first time as their challenge. Our 2 groups came together at Thrapston and the ringing challenges were organised with precision to make sure everyone got a chance to ring and get their final signature, which also meant we could relax and begin to breath again.

After the ringing we were treated to a lovely lunch and cake. Most importantly though, was the awarding of certificates to all the challengers for completing their challenges. A fantastic day was had by all, new ringers’ confidence increased and we all felt like we had learned a lot in one day. We all appreciated the opportunity to ring at several towers and to have the opportunity to significantly improve our skills. The helpers were very patient and did an exceptional job of calming nerves and helping with our ringing, we really cannot thank them enough for helping us achieve our respective goals.

A lovely and challenging day was had by all, and we are very much looking forward to next year and another Nene Valley Challenge.


Hannah Conlon