UK: Olympic Spirit Rings Out Across Royal Navy

Olympic Spirit Rings Out Across Royal Navy

As excitement grows ahead of the Olympic Games Royal Navy ships and establishments have rung their Ship’s Bells in a cultural event.

From naval bases across the UK to HMS Diamond in the Middle East, sailors took part in the ‘All the Bells’ Cultural Olympiad project by ringing them for three minutes exactly.

The event started at 8.12 am across Britain to mark the first day of the Games. The Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary took part with RFA Mounts Bay in Portland, HMS Bulwark in Weymouth Bay, HMS Ocean in Greenwich and the submarine HMS Vigilant in Scotland.

RFA Mounts Bay Communications rating Sophie Pickford, 21, from Lincoln was thrilled to be representing her Service, having joined only two years ago after many years supporting her local Sea cadet Unit in Lincoln. Sophie was selected from the volunteers by Captain Kevin Rimell, the Commanding Officer of RFA Mounts Bay.

“It feels great to be part of something so big,” said Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Dale Sleeman, who was asked to ring the bell in recognition of the contribution he has made to Royal Navy rugby.

“We’ve been in London for a few weeks now, and there’s a fantastic atmosphere, everyone’s getting really excited.”

Down in Dartmouth in Devon the event continued at Britannia Royal Navy training college (BRNC). Sub Lieutenant Nicola Williams rang the ship’s bell on the College parade ground, while Reverend Andrew Hillier and civilian staff member Paula Franklin rang the chapel bell.

The chapel bell rope was presented to the College in 2000 by Eddie Smale, a worker from Sandquay. He used the colours of the Olympic rings to represent the Sydney games that year.

Sub Lieutenant Williams said:

“With so many Naval Personnel committed to supporting the Olympics it was nice for me to play a small part here at BRNC – ding dong.”

In a break from tradition sailors from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset joined Somerset’s County Cricket Club Captain Marcus Trescothick at his home ground to join the national celebration. As HMS Somerset is currently undertaking a major planned maintenance package the ship was unable to ring her bell.

However Somerset County Cricket Club (closely affiliated to HMS Somerset) also have one of the Ship’s Bell in pride of place at their ground. Representatives from the Ship, alongside former England star Trescothick, rang the bell.

Meanwhile in the same county bells rang out at the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church in Yeovilton village, St Augustine’s the Air Station church, and HMS Heron ship’s bell were all rung non-stop for three minutes.

n Portsmouth HMS Edinburgh, HMS Illustrious, HMS Nelson and HMS Victory took part. Captain Martin Connell, HMS Illustrious’ Commanding Officer, said:

“I am very pleased that HMS Illustrious has been able to play a part in marking the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“All of us on board, along with the rest of the nation, have been looking forward to welcoming this great sporting event to Britain. I am sure that the next few weeks will produce many memorable moments of sporting history.”

Over in HMS Collingwood in Fareham Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineer) Jake Byford, 18, from Redditch was selected to ring the ship’s bell with Commanding Officer, Commodore Mike Mansergh as he is one of the youngest trainees an the establishment. He said:

“It was an honour to be selected to take part in the bell ringing ceremony, which heralded the beginning of the first day of the London 2012 Olympics.

“The hosting of the Olympics is a momentous occasion for our country and to be part of it, no matter how small, is an amazing and humbling experience.”

The All the Bells event is a London 2012 Festival commission project offered everyone in the country the opportunity to be part of a work by a Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed. Individuals, communities or organisations took part by ringing any kind of bell for three minutes – from tower bells to hand bells, bicycle bells and doorbells.

The ceremony of “All the Bells” echoes a long British tradition with bells being rung to celebrate historical events. Two examples of which were the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Naval Today Staff, August 2, 2012; Image: Royal Navy