York & North Yorkshire

York Minster bells rung for first time since sackings

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Media captionYork Minster bells rung for first time since mass sacking of ringers

York Minster's main bells have rung out for the first time since its entire 30-strong team of bell-ringers were dismissed more than 10 weeks ago.

The bells were rung ahead of the Minster's Service of Nine Lessons and Carols on Thursday.

The Minster dismissed its bell-ringers in October, for "safeguarding issues".

Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said the bells were rung by a team of experienced volunteers from across Yorkshire.

"We are grateful to the ringers of Yorkshire for kindly providing such a wonderful festive welcome for worshippers to the cathedral tonight," she said.

'Intimidation' claim

The sacking had raised fears the bells would remain silent on Christmas Day for what is thought would be the first time since the 14th Century.

Earlier this week the Chapter of York, the Minster's governing body, said the bell-ringing team was sacked due to a row over one of its members being accused of indecent assault.

It also claimed attempts to recruit replacements ringers had been hampered by "intimidation on social media and in the local press."

It was alleged one member of the clergy who had volunteered to help had been "threatened with legal action".

The York Minster Society of Change Ringers (YMSCR) released a statement in the wake of the Chapter's comments stating that none of its members had engaged in intimidation and that no member had been found guilty of any crime relating to safeguarding.

It also said its members were willing to ring the Minster bells for all Christmas services if asked to do so.

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