History / The Bells
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03/08/07 At last!  Today the bell in Hilltown church was 'liberated' after its service in that tower since 1772. After sterling work by Peter Hayward,Tom, Eric and Simon, it finally returned to earth to become probably the most unique load Alistair has ever towed home!     Stage 1 has ended; the instrument has been procured. Now begins the preparation for service along with its erstwhile fellow travellers of the 18th century.   

07/08/07  Norman, the 'father' of our tower, passed away this morning in his 85th year. N.R.Johnston rang here 62 years ago to mark VE & VJ Days and throughout the years since and, despite failing health, he rang at the funeral last year of Canon John Barry. Enthusiasm for life and an incessant need to be 'doing something' meant he was well known in this village and the church he served all his life.

10/08/07 A visit from Lancs Association and a peal of Anglia Surprise Royal.

15/08/07 A quarter peal of Stedman, Grandsire & PB Doubles was rung tonight as a thanksgiving for the life and service to this tower over the last 69 years of the late Norman R.Johnston. The cover bell was rung by 13yr old Jonathan Houston; his first quarter peal since starting to ring at the end of last year.

12/10/07  A peal of Swindon Surprise Royal at the hands of a band of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths: One of the features which make this village unique in NI.

20/11/07  We rang the ten bells to mark the Diamond Wedding Anniversary of HM The Queen & Prince Philip. Call changes & Plain Hunt with three sessions of firing the bells.

11/12/07 Having arrived yesterday and been safely hoisted some 80ft up through the centre of the tower the Hilltown bell has today been installed along with its 18th century travel companions. At 5 minutes to 5pm she rang out her first notes to Hillsborough and broad smiles were the order of the day. The sighs of relief were masked by her song.

16/12/07  After much preparation 'the day' arrived. In her new place in Hillsborough tower the Hilltown bell was dedicated in thanksgiving for the life, ministry and witness of Canon John Barry in this parish. The Most Rev. Alan Harper OBE, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland, also dedicated a memorial plaque at the entrance to the bell tower in memory of Canon Barry; that all those who saw it may give thanks for his life and pause to consider the message of salvation that he so effectively preached. The prayer was made that all those who hear the bell peal out may have their minds and hearts drawn to worship God. The bell rang out immediately after the act of dedication; a glorious call from an old messenger on a cold wintry morning.

18/12/07  With fond memories we note the death of Sam Ross; an IACR Life member. A well known and popular sexton in Canon Barry's era; he was highly regarded for his dedication to encouraging young people to become bell ringers. Sam had a beguiling way with him as many discovered... and bells kept ringing.

26/12/07  Having seen the Hilltown bell securely installed in the tower it seems the RM has taken steps (or knelt) on Christmas Day to secure another bell(e). Our heartiest congratulations go out to Simon and Alison on their engagement. 

30/12/07  Our rector, the Very Rev. John Dinnen, preached his final sermon today prior to entering retirement after tomorrow's Watchnight Service. Our prayers and best wishes are offered to both him and Jane for the seasons and years ahead.

01/01/08  After the twelve strokes of the tenor at midnight we had no rector. We were visited by Bishop Harold Miller and, soon after, Rev.John Dinnen, retd!  On behalf of the ringers Alistair Jameson presented a gift to 'JD' in thanks and appreciation of his support. 'JD' stressed what he had said during his final service; "Keep the bells ringing out; pronouncing the good news and welcoming people to worship."    He had called on the congregation to be thrilled and excited when they heard the bells marking the new year as the bells marked the 'good news of Jesus Christ'.

15/03/08  To Holywood for the Cunningham Cup contest with two teams to our name. Yet another close result and this time the sun shone again on the St Donards team. For the first time, the McBride Cup for 'Best young ringer' has come to our tower in the hands of Jonathan Houston. A worthy award for his dedication and rapid progress.

16/04/08 A quarter peal of PB Doubles was rung tonight as a compliment to Edmund & Heather White on their Silver wedding anniversary and to Alistair & Daryl Jameson on their 35th anniversary.

23/04/08 Quarter peal of PB Doubles rung to mark the appointment of our curate, Rev Simon Richardson, as the new rector.

24/06/08  Milestones. This afternoon we rang for the wedding of a great grandson of a former rector of this parish, Canon Francis Matchett (1913-1949). During the last 59 yrs the parish has had only two rectors but tonight we rang for the Institution of a third one; Rev Simon Richardson.  We rang the ten beforehand with a short interval for the Hilltown bell to make a lone contribution then rang later as the congregation went for supper in the church hall. A remarkable night and certainly a memorable milestone.

31/07/08  Practice last night was preceded by an act of dedication by the rector of a bell mounted on the wall below the ringing room clock. It was provided by the family of our late colleague Norman Johnston to mark the 69 years service he gave as a ringer in this tower. Simon, our RM, paid tribute to 'NRJ', highlighting some occasions in history at which time he had been a ringer and noting the fact that he had also been steeplekeeper for many of those years. Simon, our rector, also paid tribute to his dedication; his friendliness and the welcome he offered to 'newcomers'.

13/08/08.  At last!  Yesterday Simon and Alison were married. Our RM finally got himself 'spliced'. May the happy couple learn to blend their talents, share their fun and never diminish in respect for the person who chose them as their companion for life's journey.   We may hope that Mrs Walker will let her husband come out to ring with us! 

14/08/08  Before the wedding on Tuesday a quarter peal of Grandsire Triples was rung in Hillsborough to mark the event. Daryl and Alistair Jameson were joined by Jean Jeffery, Michael Crockett, Gaurang Patel, and the men from Nottingham, Peter Hayward, Andrew Mills, & Tom Blyth. Just after the wedding Michael & the HM men rang a peal at Greyabbey to celebrate that 'the deed was done'; Simon was well and truly 'spliced'.  

28/09/08  Yesterday ten of our band - with fifteen others - made a flying visit to ring at five towers in the City of London. The weather was fabulous, the craic great and laughter plentiful. The combination of setting, events and experiences was very educational. By nightfall the entire party were exhausted; minds crammed with images and the hunger for 'away days' satisfied for another little while. Will London remember us the way we will remember it ?

23/10/08  We rang before and after the Service of Dedication today of the new weathervane and a memorial plaque in memory of the late Robin Hill, 8th Marquess of Downshire. In the presence of the 9th Marquess and his family, the service began and ended with the Hillsborough Guard sounding the bugle; poignant moments prompting vivid reminders of the long, benevolent, history of the Hill family in this country and the legacy bestowed on us which demands our best efforts of maintenance.  We especially value the support of the Marquess in maintaining the tradition of bellringing; sounding out the good news.

26/10/08  On the morning of 24th, a peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal was rung by the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths.

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