SHE has to stand on two boxes to reach the enormous bells towering above her.

But 10-year-old Tiggy Jones, who is the youngest member of St Nicholas Church bellringers group in Marston, Oxford, certainly makes up for height in strength.

The Dragon School pupil joined about a year ago after first starting to learn the skill with the help of her older sister Rebecca, at the age of seven, and now trains weekly with the band of 15 bellringers.

She said her older sister Rebecca taught her from a young age and added: “Some of my friends are quite surprised when they find out I am a bellringer but I think a lot of children would really enjoy it.

“I train once a week and would like to get better and better at it and of course stop needing the boxes!”

St Nicholas Church has had bells and a band to chime or ring them since the 19th century, when five bells were installed and a regular band began.

In 1972 a sixth bell was added under a band led by Tower Captain Roy Jones.

He had actually started bellringing in 1944, aged eight.

The St Nicholas bellringers are now well known across the county and the south of England, competing in contests and also travelling to other churches to help out with undermanned teams and to teach their skills.

But attracting new members can be difficult.

Mr Jones, 77 and from St Nicholas Park, said: “The number of bellringers at St Nicholas has varied quite a bit over the years.

“Our difficulty – and the same goes for many bands across the county – is keeping hold of youngsters when they reach their later teenage years, and also attracting younger adults.”

He added: “Bellringing seems to have a stereotype as being old-fashioned and a bit peculiar, but it is a talent you can develop to a high standard.”

St Nicholas would like to recruit two or more new, adult ringers to the band and younger ringers are also welcomed, but under-16s need parental permission.

Ringers do not need experience or to be a member of the Church of England, but will be asked to ring for a minimum of 12 services per year.

  • For further details contact Hugh Deam on 01865 247574.

A sport of the gentry

  • Campanology (or bellringing) is an old English tradition which flourished with the patronage of Elizabeth I and Charles II.
  • Bellringing became the sport of the gentry and later a way of life for common folk, especially those in villages where the church wardens’ squire paid them with ‘cake and ale’, and money to ring.
  • Church bells were the time signals before clocks were installed in towers and alarms before sirens.