We like to think that Hollybank is well known and regarded across Yorkshire for the work that we do. Now, thanks to one of our growing army of supporters, the community living in Vernet-les-Bains in France will know all about us too!

Although hailing from Yorkshire, Jeff Ladd and his late wife Catherine had a holiday home in France, and in 2014, they decided to set up a project to raise funds to install ten church bells at St George’s Church in Vernet-les-Bains, France. The church was built in 1912 when the village was popular with British visitors. 

Jeff and Catherine started bellringing when they were teenagers and felt there was an opportunity to introduce bells into the empty tower of the church and to take a piece of Britain to France. Sadly, Catherine passed away in 2014, just a short time before necessary renovations to the church were complete and installing the bells became a realistic possibility.

Nine of the ten bells are dedicated to lost family members - six of them are in memory of Catherine. Hollybank received half of all the money raised by Abbey Runners in Leeds, as we were their chosen charity of the year. We are extremely grateful to Jeff and everyone who donated towards the ‘Abbey’ bell.

Jeff Ladd, the founder of the project said: “We have made good progress in training enough ringers to ring for practices and services each week. We're particularly pleased that three of our ringers are French and see our bells as a great opportunity for local people to share in a fascinating English tradition.”

The bells were installed in 2019 in time for Easter. Jeff is currently teaching a band of bell ringers (British, French and Danish) who are all making good progress.

You can read more about Jeffs project and the bells here, https://vernetbells.com/en