York Minster has dismissed its 30-strong volunteer team of bell ringers
Some members of the 30-strong volunteer team responsible for ringing the Minister’s 56 bells burst into tears after being told the unexpected decision which they say “lacks Christian compassion”.
Volunteers say the locks to the tower doors have all been changed and they have not been given a reason as to why they had all been axed.
The decision means the Minster’s 56 bells will not be pealing this Christmas – for the first time since 1361.
York Minster said a new team of volunteers is to be recruited headed by a paid bell-ringer known as the ‘Head of Tower’.
But it will take three months before the recruitment, induction and training process has been completed and the new team can sound out the bells.
Ringing master Peter Sanderson, 46, has been removed from his position but is demanding crunch talks with the Dean Rev Vivienne Faull.
Volunteers say the locks to the tower doors have all been changed
He is fuming that his team of bellringers have been dismissed and told they must re-apply for their volunteering jobs.
The Dean Reverend Vivienne Faull has lost it I think and is trying to control us
He said: “Basically, they are suspending me and bringing someone in to do my volunteer job – but paying someone to do it.”
Mr Sanderson, who has led the group since 2006, says the bell ringers have never met Rev Faull since her appointment in 2012 despite offering numerous invitations and he has no idea why they can’t keep ringing the bells until the new Head of Tower is appointed.
He added: “In the past we have just got on with the task, but now as a result of this, the historic bells won’t be chiming over the city of York.”
The Dean Reverend Vivienne Faull dismissed the bell ringers without reason, say volunteers
Retired priest Giles Galley, 84, who worked as an honorary bell ringer at York Minster since 1980, described the sacking as “scandalous”.
He said: “The Dean Reverend Vivienne Faull has lost it I think and is trying to control us.
“She [Rev Vivienne Paul] is going to go down in history as the dean who sacked her bellringers.”
He added: “The Minster don’t have a clue what they are doing.”
Another bell ringer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The Minster has increasingly taken a corporate managerial approach – rather than one of Christian compassion.”
The decision means the Minster’s 56 bells will not be pealing this Christmas
Speaking about the Minster peal, which is the fourth heaviest in the country and reputed to be one of the best in the world, he said: “It’s just awful that they will be silent until sometime next year.
“But you cannot just import people as bellringers – the Minster bells are not like your average parish church bells.”
A York Minster spokesman said it had been an “emotional process” removing the current team.
Confirming a new team of volunteers are to be recruited to work under a paid head she added: “All the former bell ringers are entitled to apply to join the new team and go through a new training and induction process.
“Some have indicated they would be interested in doing that.
“The Minster hopes the process would open up the bell ringing to new people who have not been involved before.”