York Minster to chime again with new team of bellringers

Jun 10, 2017 by

by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian:

Officials at 15th-century church hope chief campanologist Angela Mitchell’s team of volunteers will put previous controversy behind them.

The bells of York Minster will ring again from the autumn after the appointment of a new chief campanologist, nine months after the cathedral sacked its team of 30 bellringers amid safeguarding fears.

Angela Mitchell, a headteacher who has rung the minster’s bells for more than 20 years, has been appointed “head of bell tower” for an initial period of 12 months, the minster announced on Friday.

Her first task will be to help recruit a new team of volunteer bellringers from 42 applicants, three-quarters of whom are members of the previous team sacked suddenly last October.

The bellringers were initially told the dismissals were for health and safety reasons. But six days later, John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, issued a statement saying one member of the group was regarded as a safeguarding risk, and others had “consistently challenged” the authority of the minster’s governing body, the Chapter of York.

The dispute centred on David Potter, a leading figure in the team who was the subject of two police investigations following allegations made in 1999 and 2015. On neither occasion were charges brought. Potter was excluded from the minster last July.

Minster sources claimed the bellringing team was in the hands of a “fiefdom”.

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