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Bells to ring for cancer campaign

27 May 2016


Raising awareness: the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Richard Jackson, and the Rector of Brede, the Revd Martin Harper, with Julie McDonnell, at St George’s, Brede, in East Sussex, where Ms McDonnell rings

Raising awareness: the Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Revd Richard Jackson, and the Rector of Brede, the Revd Martin Harper, with Julie McDonnell, at St Geor...

CATHEDRALS around the world have responded to the plea of a churchgoer in East Sussex to ring their bells on 25 June, to raise awareness of the blood cancers from which she and others suffer.

Julie McDonnell, a bell-ringer and a member of the congregation at St George’s, Brede, has chronic myeloid leukaemia; but underwent successful stem-cell treatment, after a donor was found for her on the Anthony Nolan Register.

To raise awareness of the 137 types of blood cancers and of research charities such as Anthony Nolan, and Bloodwise, Mrs McDonnell approached cathedrals around the world, asking them to ring on 25 June. From as far afield as Sydney, Cape Town, Miami, and Hawaii, as well in the UK, from Inverness to Chichester, they are joining in.

Smaller towers with bells have now also signed up, and Mrs McDonnell is taking part in a sponsored walk from Wye, in Kent, to Canterbury Cathedral, with ringing from towers all along the way. “I want more people to know about blood cancers, and other sufferers to have the same chance of finding a stem-cell donor as I had,” she said, hoping that the sound of bells will stimulate public interest.

Bells have been requested next month for other, more celebratory reasons. On 3 June, the BBC is promoting Music Day throughout the UK, and has invited ringers — players on the largest and most public of musical instruments — to take part. It has asked that bells ring out at 7 p.m. from “cities, towns, and villages”, as part of the web of music covering the country.

The Queen’s (official) 90th birthday is marked next month, and ringing will focus on the Patron’s Lunch on Sunday 12 June, when tables will be set out down The Mall. Buckingham Palace has asked for ringing across the country between 12 noon and 2 p.m. “However, there is likely to be ringing at many other times also during the whole celebratory weekend,” the public relations officer for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR), Kate Flavell, said.

Last month, Heritage Open Days announced that this year it has joined forces with the CCCBR to open bell-towers on 8 September, along with other “hidden” places of interest, and to organise collective ringing at 6 p.m. It is hoped that ringers at 500 or more bell towers will take part.

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