Chagford bellringers bring home county shield in honour of their former tower captain

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Tuesday 26th March 2019 9:00 am
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The Chagford ringers taking a break during the contest

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NOVICE bellringers from Chagford triumphed in a county-wide competition recently, bringing home the winners’ shield donated in memory of the former Chagford tower captain for the first time ever.

The Chagford contingent came home with the Percy Rice Shield from the Devon Association of Ringers’ novices competition at St Mary’s Church in Ideford in the Teign Valley on Saturday, March 9.

The shield donated in memory of former Chagford tower captain Percy Rice is presented each year to the team which wins the changes section of the association’s annual contest.

Chagford tower captain Jon Bint, who collected the shield on behalf of his team, said: ‘The trophy was donated in memory of Percy by his widow Ethel 21 years ago.

‘Chagford has never won this trophy before so it meant a great deal to us actually and a great deal to Percy’s daughter Julia, who stood down earlier this year as tower captain after 41 years.

‘We have had a couple of runner-ups before and we have won the rounds section three times but this is the first time we have won the changes.

‘Among our three learners we had two youngsters and one adult and the one that won the changes was actually my youngest boy Gabriel who is 13 so I was quite pleased about that. And my sister-in-law Amanda Peirce was in the team that came second in the rounds, ringing is a bit like that, it tends to run in families!’

The other novice from Chagford taking part was 13-year-old Bertie Mesling.

‘He did very well because it was his first year in the rounds,’ said Jon. ‘We have now got quite a few learners since we had the bells rehung a couple of years ago.

‘We had three teams in the rounds section and two in the changes section.

‘We won the changes section and were joint runners up in the rounds so it was a good year all round for us.’

He added: ‘Percy taught me how to handle a rope in 1976 in his last year as captain and I have just taken over as tower captain from Julia.

‘Between them, Percy and Julia have had the captaincy for 81 years. I don’t foresee a similar length of service in the post!’

Winning the rounds section was a team from Kingsteignton, pipping one of the Chagford teams to the post, while with the changes section it was the reverse.‘We had winners from both ends of the River Teign!’ said Jon.

He explained that more experienced members of the team had joined with the novices to form the teams taking part in the contest.

Other communities taking part included Ideford, Bishops Tawton, Stoke Canon, Dartmouth and Berrynarbor.

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