STRING QUARTET: Robert Weatherby, Wes McVeigh, Margaret Weatherby and Geoff Cawley make music at St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Lismore.
STRING QUARTET: Robert Weatherby, Wes McVeigh, Margaret Weatherby and Geoff Cawley make music at St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Lismore. Doug Eaton

Pastime rings in couple’s passion

BELL ringing runs in the family for Robert and Margaret Weatherby.

The couple, who make up two of the 13 members of St Andrew's Society of Bell Ringers, started ringing church bells together after their son wanted to learn the craft 11 years ago.

But what started as camaraderie for their son has become a passion for the pair who now ring the bells at St Andrew's Anglican Church every Sunday.

"Our son was the first one who became interested, but there was no bell tower in Lismore then so we had to drive him all the way to Armidale to learn," Mr Weatherby said.

"Everyone said to me 'come on, have a go' and so I did.

"Now we do it every Sunday and it's an integral part of the church service."

Mr Weatherby is a researcher at Southern Cross University in the area of drugs in sport, so bell ringing is something that is completely outside his field of work.

"If you've had a bad day, you can't afford to think of something else when you're bell ringing as it really takes up your concentration, so it's a great way to switch off," he said.

Mr Weatherby also said ringing bells was a very social pastime.

"There are whole families who ring together and it's a great way to get to know other people," he said.

When asked whether bell ringing might be a dying art, Mr Weatherby said he couldn't see that happening.

"There are quite a number of efforts to make it appealing to young people and there are more and more people becoming bell ringers in the UK," he said.

It takes about three months to learn the basics of bell ringing, but this isn't a hard and fast rule.

"Some people pick it up easily, but nobody gets competent with everything because there is always something new or a new method to learn," Mr Weatherby said.

Bell ringing is a mainly voluntary activity and there is no requirement to attend church.

Those interested in joining the St Andrew's Society of Bell Ringers should phone Margaret Weatherby on 0406 756 007.



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