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“Bell-a-thon” seeks funds to refurbish handbells

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KENT—A “bell-a-thon” is being conducted to raise funds to refurbish the handbells that have been put back in play by St. Andrew’s Church.

Anne Everett and Bonnie Rosborough waited their turn to sound notes as they practiced for the Easter morning service at St. Andrew’s Church. With the bells now back in use by the church, funds are being raised to refurbish them. Photo by Kathryn Boughton

The bells, which originally belonged to Harlem Valley State Hospital in Wingdale, NY, have been owned by the parish since that facility was closed in the early 1990s. They were used by Marty Holcombe with the Junior Choir some years ago, but then were set aside until this spring when Music Director Susan Guse was inspired to create a bell choir for the Easter Service. 

The three-octave set were rung at Easter for the prelude and four ringers accompanied the choir on one of the Easter anthems. They have also been used to intone the psalms sung at the 10:30 service.

The bells were a significant gift from Harlem Valley and Guse estimates they would cost $15,000 to $20,000 to replace today. “They range from the C below middle C, all the way up to the C two octaves above middle C for a total of 37 bells,” she said. 

Typically, handbells are sent back to the factory for refurbishment every five to 10 years. St. Andrew’s bells, the oldest of which were manufactured between 1962-1964, are long overdue for refurbishment and their ringing mechanism is outdated. Guse says the bells have lost their luster and tone quality and need to be refurbished. One of the bells is entirely broken and needs to be replaced. 

It will cost about $165 to refurbish each bell, a process that can take place over a period of months. The church is hoping that parishioners will take part in the refurbishment campaign by sending donations to St. Andrew’s Parish, PO Box 309, Kent, CT 06757 (write “handbell” in the memo portion of your check).

Kathryn Boughton
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