THE bells are ringing out this month as a Ryedale club celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Levisham and Lockton Handbell Ringers group - known as LL’s Bells - is marking its birthday with a special concert.

The group formed in 1998 when founding member Anne Deebank was given 15 bells - an octave-and-a-half set - by her stepfather.

She put up notices around the twin villages of Levisham and Lockton with an idea that others might wish to learn to ring a few carols for Christmas.

Anne said: “Little did I think that, asking if anyone from the two villages would like to try ringing a few carols on handbells in November 1998, we would still be going strong 25 years on."

Anne said that even after the initial curiosity had abated, there were still more ringers than handbells, so the team set about raising money for a 2-octave set, including applying to the National Lottery’s ‘Awards for All’ fund, which subsequently granted all the money.

"The excess raised by their own efforts funded an equivalent set of hand chimes, music stands, uniforms and other accessories.

"Since then the team has not only enjoyed making music for themselves but has also entertained the wider community, including WI meetings, Pickering and Levisham stations for the North Yorks Moors Railway Santa Specials, fetes and the local churches’ Carol Services.

"We played on the morning of the opening of the London Olympics on Levisham village green, which was recorded by Radio York, and appeared in February this year on Georgey Spanswick’s Breakfast Show being interviewed by Julia Lewis."

There are currently 13 members of the team, including four of the original volunteers.

The group’s repertoire spans all genres from nursery rhymes to film and musical scores, Beatles to Beethoven.

Anne handed the reins over to Sue Pearson after 20 years as music director and they continue to meet every Tuesday in Levisham Village Hall from February to June and September to December.

New members are always very welcome.

Sue said: “Handbells are a unique musical instrument in that you need several people to produce a tune.

"Handling a bell is very easy and quickly learned. We ring from a number system, so anyone who can count up to six - usually three or four - can contribute to the music – musicians and non-musicians alike.”

The Anniversary Concert will be held in Lockton Village Hall and starts at 7pm. LLs Bells will be joined by their friends from the Thornton le Dale Ukuleles. There will be refreshments and a raffle. Admission is free.

For more details about joining the team or the concert, call Sue on 01751 460043 or Anne on 07789565045.