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North American Peal Ringing 2013

by Don Morrison

Statistics about quarters and peals in North America always make interesting reading, as they present an objective picture of our activities, and our strength. Quarters appeal to a broader cross section of ringers than peals, and so are probably the more useful measure, but peals do well reflect the activities of some of our most enthusiastic ringers. Rick DuPuy produced a wonderful analysis of quarters rung in 2012, available on the NAGCR web site, and is planning to update it for 2013.

The NAGCR's Peal Secretary, Theresa Rice, produces a similar, annual analysis of peal ringing. That analysis concentrates on peals rung for the NAGCR; with only a light summary of other peals rung in North America, and no distinction therein made between peals rung by visiting bands from overseas, and those by North American bands. Unfortunately this does not give a wholly accurate view of the health of North American peal ringing, as the majority of peals rung by predominately North American bands in 2013 were not rung for the NAGCR.

This article summarizes all peals rung by North American bands in 2013: all peals where at least half the band were North American residents are included in this analysis. Because there are no previous reports of this kind to compare with, I have also gathered corresponding statistics from the preceding five years. And, for interest, I also include data from the first half of 2014, though these numbers are, of course, significantly smaller than full year numbers.

First, the total numbers of peals rung by North American bands, further broken down by whether in tower or hand, and by society. There were, of course, other peals rung in North America by visiting bands for some of these societies, and for others; these numbers are just for those where half or more of the band were North American residents. The figures in parentheses indicate those peals rung in (tower, hand).

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As can be seen the total number of peals rung by North American bands was exactly the same in 2013 as 2012, and is on track to be similar in 2014. While there was a small peak in 2011, the total has been roughly constant since 2009, but that year shows a precipitous decline from 2008.

Next, what are North American ringers ringing in peals? An interesting trend here is the apparent increase in interest in spliced surprise major. While not apparent from the summary, there has in recent years been a trend towards more, and more adventurous, methods in spliced, and 2013 saw the most different methods yet included in a peal of spliced by a North American band.

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Next, where are North American ringers ringing peals? The tables summarize the number of different towers or handbell venues where peals were rung by North American bands in the respective years; followed by the most prolific such towers and venues for those years, with the number of such peals rung there in parentheses. It is encouraging that 2013 was a record year for most different towers in which North American bands rang peals.

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Finally, how many ringers are taking part and conducting North American peals? The first line in each table is the number different ringers taking part or conducting, with how many in (tower, hand) appended. These are followed by the most prolific ringers or conductors, with (total, tower, hand) appended. Note that these are total different ringers or conductors in peals rung by predominately North American bands; while most are, they are not all North American ringers. An interesting detail discernible from these numbers is that, while hand bell peals these days constitute a relatively small portion of North American peal ringing, there are still some ringers who ring only hand bell peals not tower bell peals, continuing North America's long tradition in that domain.

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Posted Jun 30, 2014

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