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Husband and wife's shared love of bell ringing has seen her ring up 50 years

PUBLISHED: 11:04 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:42 19 June 2019

Julie Websdell has celebrated 50 years of bellringing having been first taught by her husband Herbert in 1969 when she was 21. Picture: Antony Kelly

Julie Websdell has celebrated 50 years of bellringing having been first taught by her husband Herbert in 1969 when she was 21. Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2016

It is a passion she has shared with her husband since he passed on his love of bell ringing and now Julie Websdell has rung up 50 years.

Herbert and Julie Websdell have been members of Starston Ringers at St Margaret’s Church since the 1970s. Picture: Simon ParkinHerbert and Julie Websdell have been members of Starston Ringers at St Margaret’s Church since the 1970s. Picture: Simon Parkin

Having pulled her first bell rope in 1969 aged 21 under the tuition of husband Herbert, five decades later they both remain as dedicated to ringing as ever.

Between them the husband and wife team, from Harleston, have been ringing bells in churches on the Norfolk and Suffolk border for 123 years.

Herbert and Julie Websdell who between them have been ringing bells for 123 years. Picture: Sonya DuncanHerbert and Julie Websdell who between them have been ringing bells for 123 years. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Despite reaching the landmark of 50 years at the end of bell ropes, Mrs Websdell, 71, remains a relative novice compared to her 86-year-old husband who was just 13 when he first tried the activity, in the Pulham cluster of villages, near Diss, in October 1946.

She said: "It is my husband who brought me into it. He had always rung and I said I wanted to learn so we left the baby with his mother and went into Pulham St Mary church and two hours later I could handle a bell. I fell in love with it straight away and it has become very addictive."

Julie and Herbert Websdell have rung the bells at Starston church to mark many memorable events, including celebration the Queen becoming the longest serving monach in 2015. Picture: Simon ParkinJulie and Herbert Websdell have rung the bells at Starston church to mark many memorable events, including celebration the Queen becoming the longest serving monach in 2015. Picture: Simon Parkin

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Together their love of ringing has, over the decades, seen them pull the ropes at churches in Redenhall, Fressingfield, Wingfield and Stradbroke.

Herbert and Julie Websdell who between them have been ringing bells for 123 years. Picture: Sonya DuncanHerbert and Julie Websdell who between them have been ringing bells for 123 years. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Their home tower is Starston's St Margaret's Church where they have been members of the Starston Ringers, who take turns to ring the church's six bells, since the early 1970s.

To mark her 50 years, a special service was held at the church together with a Festival of Bells that included ringing of the tower bells and hand bells, as well as an exhibition by a technician who worked at the White Chapel bell foundry.

A Festival of Bells held in Starston to mark Julie Websdell 50 years of bellringing included demonstrations of handbells on the Glebe in the village. Picture: Simon ParkinA Festival of Bells held in Starston to mark Julie Websdell 50 years of bellringing included demonstrations of handbells on the Glebe in the village. Picture: Simon Parkin

Mrs Websdell said: "We have been ringing here for 15 or 16 years but ringers will ring at any tower they are wanted and asked to ring at. Before we came here permanently we used to ring at five churches in Norfolk and Suffolk."

The couple also pass on their knowledge by teaching new ringers the technique and patterns, which can include complicated method ringing.

"Herbert has taught many people and I put my penny's worth in every so often," said Mrs Websdell. "But new ringers are very hard to come by. You get youngsters coming who are full of the joys of spring about it then they go off to university and you lose them."

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