BELLRINGERS are appealing for new recruits of any age to learn the ropes and keep a tradition alive in Marston.

St Nicholas Church in Old Marston is calling for volunteers to step forward after age restrictions preventing ringers under 10 or over 75 taking part were scrapped.

Now anyone can volunteer – as long as they are tall enough and strong enough to pull the ropes.

Tower captain Roy Jones, who has been a ringer since he was 10, wants anyone interested to come along and try it.

He said: “We’ve got about 12 ringers, but six of those are regular and the others are often at school, or away, and one of them lectures abroad on frequent occasions.

“I’m trying to make it so we’ve got 12 regular ringers, two ringers per bell so people feel they don’t have to come every Sunday to every service.

“At one time, due to the insurance, we couldn’t have a ringer under the age of 10 or over the age of 75.

“That’s now been removed and anyone fit enough or tall enough can ring. I reckon you need to be at least 4ft tall for our bells. Our youngest ringer is about 13, but any age group is welcome to come and try it.”

The 13th century church has six bells dating from 1823, the lightest weighing about 112lbs, the heaviest more than 500lbs.

Ringers practice on Friday evenings for an hour and a half.

They play on Sunday mornings for 45 minutes and on Sunday evenings for 35 minutes, with tunes including Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles, as well as at weddings and funerals.

Mr Jones said: “I enjoy the mental effort and companionship and friendship of the band and the knowledge I can go almost anywhere in the world where there are bell ringers and receive a warm welcome.

“It’s easy enough to pick up but anyone who is going to learn must commit themselves to a certain amount of practice. It’s not something you can pick up in five minutes.”

Robert Newton, master of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers, confirmed the age restrictions had been removed.

New recruits must be able to ring for a minimum of 12 services per year and under 16s need permission from their parents.

Anyone interested in becoming a bell ringer at St Nicholas Church can call Hugh Deam on 01865 247574.