The 100th anniversary committee had been discussing how to mark the anniversary and one idea was to create a new trophy for the 6 bell contest. The six-bell striking contest is open to towers within the Guild and the bands can chose to ring methods or call changes. The Weaver Shield was presented by John & Barbara Weaver and has been awarded every year since 1986 to the winners of the contest.

Racking the memories of the longer standing members, the consensus was that the winning band had probably never been a call change band and the committee mused that this might be a disincentive for call change bands to enter. In which case what could we do about that? Well, a new trophy seemed a likely answer, changing the format slightly from a contest with a single winner to a contest with 2 winners, one in each category.

I said I’d get the trophy sorted. That was maybe a little easier said than done.

I don’t have the ability to translate visual ideas onto paper. My first move was to find someone get the random ideas in my head into a format that someone else could understand. A former colleague, Deborah Norris, is an excellent designer, admittedly one more used to plastic & metal and medical devices than wood and trophies, but she bravely undertook to turn my wittering and hand waving into something that could potentially be made. I met her and went armed with images of the Guild’s current trophies and several others that had elements I either liked or disliked. I wanted something that could hang and stand but that incorporated a three – dimensional turned bell element. Deborah worked wonders and made a series of design sketches. Some were based on what I thought I wanted; some were to explore other possibilities. All of them helped finetune what the finished item would look like. As anticipated, what we ended up with looked nothing like what I thought I wanted initially!

I took the designs to Jon Hunt, of JH Woodcraft, a woodworker who lives in Thrapston. We discussed the designs and the practicalities of making them in wood. There were some modifications for practical purposes, and he suggested a different means of mounting the trophy such that it could stand on a table or hang on the wall. This is a very neat solution to the problem of some towers having a central table or window ledge and others not having the level place to display a trophy. It can sit on a table or hang from a single mount.

Jon also asked what I wanted the trophy to be made out of. Very good question. He was keen to re-use timber removed from belfries in restoration work and so I asked towers that had and were undertaking work if they had any wood. Too many metal bell frames, it seems, or too many enthusiastic wood workers using it all up! Some offerings were not usable, such that part of the bell was made from reclaimed timber, the remainder of the trophy from new oak. The bell comprises 4 sections, the top and 3rd are oak from the frame at Beeston in Nottingham. That was where Richard and I met, and the frame section came from when we were involved in augmenting and rehanging the bells in 1998. The 2nd section from the top, the darker band, is a pully from Ashwell in Rutland. The final portion was a piece of oak that Jon already had in stock.

Either side of the bell are a pair of mini sallies (or as Deborah described them, “floofy bits”) that provide some visual interest and act as a space filler. Provided by Avon Ropes to a custom specification, the colour scheme reflects our 100th anniversary logo, with the red, while & blue sally passing through the letters.

The brass was provided by Rutherfords in Wellingborough. They also engraved the text, selecting a font that was decorative while still being clearly readable. The aim of the brass plates in the lower section was to give plenty of space for future winners, with the back being available to double the space for recording the trophy holders. Long may it be used.

When work started on assembling the trophy in January, I thought I’d allowed plenty of time – it all turned out a little tighter than anticipated. There were a few delays here and there that added up, and getting the trophy between different crafts people added time that hadn’t been factored in. This mean that I didn’t collect the trophy until the Monday with the competition on the Saturday. I used the time to have the trophy photographed professionally, for publicity and insurance purposes. That all meant that there was no time to show it to anyone ahead of the contest, such that the first time it was seen by more than those involved was when it was presented to the winning team in the church at Cold Ashby. The appreciative gasp when it was pulled out of its box was worth the wait.

The first winners were Pattishall, and Chris Bulleid can be seen receiving the trophy.

Thank you to all those involved, for offering their skills, materials and expertise to create something that I hope will still be in use at the Guild’s bicentenary.

 Supplier’s details

JH Woodcraft -

Avon Ropes -

Rutherfords -

Leigh Dedhar Photography -


Helen Allton