Bells help Harry meet new friends

BELL ringing may not seem like the obvious first choice activity for a 12-year-old boy.But for autistic Harry Wilkinson learning the ropes of bell ringing has inspired him much more than train sets and football.

BELL ringing may not seem like the obvious first choice activity for a 12-year-old boy.

But for autistic Harry Wilkinson learning the ropes of bell ringing has inspired him much more than train sets and football.

Since he started bell ringing at St Mary's Church in Hadleigh he has developed the communication and social interaction skills that he has difficulty with, and has amazed his proud mum, Sue.

Mrs Wilkinson, of Woodthorpe Road, Hadleigh, said: “It has helped in so many different ways.

“Most boys like Thomas the Tank Engine sets but he likes this.

“It's been great for his social skills because he's been meeting new people and working with them - I can't believe how well he's done!

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“He's full of enthusiasm after every session. I think he likes the sound of the bells and he likes being in church. We're not a religious family but I think he finds it tranquil.”

Harry, who goes to Beacon Hill special school in Ipswich, has been supported at the bell ringing by Out & About, a Suffolk-based charity which helps youngsters with disabilities access mainstream leisure activities.

Every Saturday he goes to the church with his volunteer, Adrian Cooper, to tug the bells and hear them chime over Hadleigh.

Now he is ready to join the adult group on Wednesdays, and Mrs Wilkinson said she hoped he would continue to grow in confidence.

She added: “Adrian has been fantastic and Out & About have really supported him. He wouldn't have been able to do this on his own, but now he has gained so much in confidence.”

Have you taken up an unusual activity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Bell ringing

Bell ringing is also known as change ringing

It began in the sixteenth century when church bells began to be hung with a full wheel

This gave ringers control of their bell, which allowed sets of bells to be rung in a continuously changing pattern

Music is created by moving bells up and down the ringing order to a defined sequence of changes known as a method

SOURCE: The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers