THE controversy at York Minster over the sacking of its entire band of bell-ringers in October 2016 has reached a resolution with the news, put out by the Minster this week, that a new band has now been recruited. Under the leadership of Angela Mitchell as Head of Bell Tower (News, 16 June), the bells, which have been virtually silent for nearly a year, will start ringing again next month.
Thirty-six members, who were scrutinised in interviews with Minster authorities, have been recruited to the new band, and the full complement of 40 is likely to be reached in the next few months. The York Minster statement said: “The Minster is delighted that several members of the former band will ring with newcomers, including some talented and experienced young ringers under the age of 18.” The Minster has set in place “a year-round recruitment process” to allow ringers moving to the area to apply at any time.
The York Minster bells are some of the finest in the UK, and there is relief among ringers that the dispute appears to have been settled. Robert Lewis, the editor of The Ringing World, on Wednesday described the dismissal of the original band as “badly handled by the Dean and Chapter”, but said: “I think the new band, and Angela Mitchell in particular, deserve all our support.”
The abrupt sacking of the band, at a few moments’ notice, in October, centred on safeguarding, particularly concerning one member of the band, David Potter, against whom allegations of child abuse had been made, though no charges were brought.
Mr Potter has been permanently excluded from ringing at York Minster. Everyone else was allowed to apply to join the new band. Three members were not shortlisted, and invited to a feedback meeting to hear the reasons.
York Minster said this week that the majority who had applied to join the new team of ringers had been successful. The recruitment process was carried out in line with the C of E’s safer recruitment policy.