BBC Songs of Praise – 29 June

On 26 March, Otley bellringers welcomed BBC Songs of Praise to town.  The programme will be aired on Sunday 29 June (5.25pm), the weekend before Le Tour.

The ringers enjoyed a relaxed time filming with presenter Connie Fisher and a fine film crew.

The Wharfedale Observer and Ilkley Gazette have both published the story.

A big thank you to BBC Songs Of Praise,  the Wharfedale Observer and the Ilkley Gazette.

Otley 3 the new band

Otley 2 Connie on bike

Otley 4 Connie learns

Otley 1 Daffodils and Polka Dots

Pro-cycling dates from April to September

20 April                              Amstel Gold                                       Netherlands

23 April                              La Fleche Wallonne                         Belgium

27 April                              Liege – Bastogne – Liege              Belgium

29 April – 4 May              Tour de Romandie                           Switzerland

9 May – 1 June                Giro d’Italia                                         Italy

8 – 15 June                        Criterium du Dauphine                  France

14 – 22 June                     Tour de Suisse                                   Switzerland

5 – 27 July                         Tour de France                                  France

23 Aug – 14 Sept            Vuelta a Espana                                Spain

Kent 2007 – Gallery

Le Tour last came to the UK in 2007.  It began with a time trial in London on the Saturday followed by a long race stage to Canterbury on the Sunday.

Here are a few images to bring to life how it felt in Goudhurst, Kent on the Sunday.  The photos are taken from the churchyard at Goudhurst.  They show the church and its tower. They also show the crowds, the motorcade and the race.  The atmosphere was fantastic.  Roll on July 2014 in Yorkshire!

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Towers in France – Gallery

Change ringing is largely unique to the UK and to a very small number of other churches in places like Australia and the USA. It depends on having bells hung on wheels which can be rung full circle and rested mouth upwards. For most of the rest of the world bells hang down and swing or are chimed in static positions. Nevertheless there is a rich vein of bells in the cycling countries of Europe.  France has a most beautiful and diverse range of towers all along the various routes Le Tour has taken.  Here are just a few images from the 2013 Tour.

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There are lots of references to bells all along the race routes of the big cycle races. More to follow here. But for now just a taster from the wonderfully named Belleville, the finishing point for Stage 4 of the 2014 Paris Nice race.   Belleville is a typically beautiful French town, rich with the heritage of Beaujolais and blessed with the mighty fine church of Notre Dame de Belleville.

The splendid website below gives history and images of this wonderful church, including organ music from the church.

Further information can also be obtained via and and



Other exhibitions featuring bellringing

Bells can be stunning for their sound and for their imagery.  Brazilian artist Laura Belém took this to new levels with her dramatic work “1000 Bells” which was exhibited in York St Mary’s in 2012 as part of her work for the Liverpool Biennial.  Find out more on this great art work via the YouTube clip and weblinks below this photo from 2012.

York St Mary 1000 Bells

The temple of 1,000 bells.


Le Grand Departs

How hard can it be to play a single note? Well we were up for the challenge….

Most musicians learn pages and pages of complex pieces, with lots and lots of notes.

Our challenge (for five ringers) was to ring 1 2 4 3   1 2 4 3   8.  Or F E C D   F E C D   F.

This was to be the prelude to international concert pianist, Kathryn Stott, playing a piece specially composed by the brilliant Dave Nelson, while sat at a grand piano, on a “pianoporte” while being pulled by a line of cyclists up the 5 mile climb of Cragg Vale.

This was The Grand Departs – a ludicrously wonderful event at the heart of the Yorkshire Festival 2014. And we were part of the composition for this piano piece.  We were the warm up act, as it were.

We walked past the BBC One Show TV crew (well OK we did loiter with intent a bit) and we took stock of the fantastic stalls of local artists in the church hall, and then we opened the tower shortly after 10am. We were delighted to welcome several folk of all ages up the few short steps to the belfry.  We were equally delighted to shake hands with a new batch of potential ringers of the future as they set off, half an hour later, back down to the festivities around the pianoporte.

Here’s a sample of the photos of the day.  And the composition we rang…

It promised to be a good day as we passed through the village of Friendly….

01 Friendly sets the tone for the day

We were soon in the lens of the TV cameras.

02 Tower overlooks TV

Now for business.  The band was formed.  Let’s open the door to the world outside…03 Our band

Last minute change to the composition.  We were finding it hard to set 5,6,7,8.  Dave Nelson, seated, had composed the piece for Kathryn Stott today and was quickly able to see a way through it for us.  Aha instead of 1 2 4 3 5 7 6 8 lets get a real slow impactful composition with 1 2 4 3 1 2 4 3 8

04 Composing with Dave Nelson

Ah we have a visitor.  Come and have a go #bepartofit

05 Come and learn

Our official steward checked his phone.  When the speeches were done outside we would start ringing.  “Go” came the text message.  We reached for the ropes. “No” came the text message.  “aaagh what shall we do!”  Then came the phone call.  “Go”. And we did. Nice.

Here’s the link to our magnificent piece (with background roars from the crowd) on Derek’s website.

06 Our steward awaits the call to ring

It was a big crowd outside. The BBC One Show crew in the thick of the action. Everyone wanting to see the cyclists and to hear Kathryn Stott.

07 The Grand Departs

And here she was….

08 Kathryn Stott

Comfortably seated at her grand piano, with an aerodynamic rain shield, carried aloft on the pioneering “pianoporte”, with 18 cyclists at fixed pairs of bikes in front of her.  We were off.  (Confession, yes I did run up Cragg Vale shouting “allez allez allez” wearing my polka dot shirt just like those folk you see on Alpe d’Huez)

09 Peloton get going

Cameras everywhere

10 TV filming

A majestic peloton

11 Peloton close up

The obligatory “bells and bikes” photo of polka dots and tower…..

12 Polka Dots by Tower

And what better way to wrap up the day than Little Valley Brewery’s Cragg Vale Bitter.

13 Cragg Vale to conclude the day

The Grand Departs featured on the BBC One Show on Monday 8th April.

It’s on iPlayer !…/b040008f/The_One_Show_07_04_2014

Cheers.  Now what’s next?  Oh yes BBC Radio Leeds live on the Sunday morning show at 7.40am….