IHS Planning Committee

Nikki Attwell, Co-Chair

Nikki began ringing in 1977, and since then has been a member of four choirs in three provinces. She was a charter member of the Bellissima Ringers handbell quartet in London, Ontario and rang with them for seven years (1997-2004) before returning to British Columbia. Highlights of those years were the quartet’s appearance in concert with the semi-professional brass ensemble, BRASSROOTS, performances at Guelph Fest and at the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and playing the handbell part in a Toronto production, broadcast nationally on CBC-TV, of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. Now living in the Okanagan Valley, Nikki directs the Alleluia Ringers handbell choir in Kelowna, gets her summer ringing “fix” at the Bay View Week of Handbells in Michigan, and is a past president of BCGEHR, as well as its newsletter editor.

“Having been born and raised in Vancouver, I am excited and proud to welcome ringers from around the world to my fantastic hometown! There’s no place on earth like Vancouver in the summer, and you will love it!”

Cara Beirnes, Equipment Coordinator

Cara first learned to ring under the direction of John Nelson, Jr. while attending Baptist Leadership Training School in Calgary, Alberta. She has been directing JuBELLation Handbell Choir at First Baptist Church in Nanaimo, BC since 1988. Cara also started solo ringing in 1996 as well as some duet ringing with other bell ringers as well as her blind accompanist. Cara is an Office Manager for a physiotherapy clinic, enjoys quilting, card making, riding with her husband on their motorbike and spending time with her grandchildren. She has attended two previous international symposia, 2004 in Toronto and 2012 in Liverpool.

“Ringing together as one united group of people was awe inspiring, exciting, a learning curve, moving and fun.”


Peggy Bensler, Financial Coordinator

Peggy started ringing in Toronto in 1999, moved to Edmonton in 2003 where she rang under Alison Wood, then to Kelowna in 2008 where she is a member of the Alleluia Ringers, a frequent sub in other local choirs, started a small ensemble in 2010, and since 2012 has been directing the Angelus Ringers in Penticton. She sits on the BCGEHR Board as Treasurer. Retired from a career with the Royal Bank, Peggy now enjoys curling, golfing, and quilting as well as all her handbell activities.

“Greetings from BC’s Sunny Okanagan!”



Fran Hawker, Programs Coordinator

Fran has been a member of JuBellation Handbell Choir in Nanaimo, BC since 1988 and BCBronze since 2005. She has long been involved with BCGEHR as an area director and organizer for various workshops and festivals, and attended the 15th IHS in Liverpool. Fran is a child care worker with preschool children who require additional support, and is an active member of First Baptist Church in Nanaimo.

“I eagerly look forward to welcoming handbell ringers from all over the world to the 17th International Handbell Symposium, SOUNDINGS: Music of Our Lands and Our Lives. May the depth and fullness of your participation in Vancouver in July 2016 resonate through your life and community!”


Annie Hergott, Registrar

Annie was first introduced to bells during her teaching practicum (1990), and has been convinced of their educational value ever since. Throughout her elementary music teaching career, she has always enjoyed using bells in the classroom as well as conducting extra-curricular groups. Annie started playing bells herself when she joined Acclamation choir in Calgary (2007). She has held the Secretary, VP South and Peal Newsletter Editor positions with the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers over the last five years.

“I’m so excited about IHS 2016! This is such a fantastic opportunity to learn more about our instrument and to meet visitors with similar passions; making beautiful music with these incredible bells! Welcome everyone to beautiful Vancouver, and to what will be a great event!”


Anne Hill, Co-Chair

Anne Hill has been playing, teaching and conducting handbells for 29 years beginning as an elementary school music teacher in Saskatoon, Saskatchwan. Anne has the pleasure of being the conductor/director of BCBronze, an ensemble of ringers from a number of regions of BC, and has been a workshop clinician and massed ringing conductor at provincial and national conferences, and as the Canadian conductor at the 2004 International Handbell Symposium in Toronto. Anne has provided leadership on the Saskatchewan and British Columbia handbell guild boards as area director, vice-president and president as well as BC provincial representative and later Chair of Handbell Guilds of Canada.

“I am thrilled to be part of the preparations for IHS2016 Vancouver and to invite the handbell musicians of the world to come and share your passion and expertise for this artform with other like-minded musicians. It will be an honour to host you on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples and to share our First Peoples history and knowledge. See you in 2016!”

Grace Lau, Marketplace & Revenue Coordinator

Grace is a retired chartered accountant and chartered business valuator. She worked for many years in public accounting, securities regulation and business valuation. She’s been an avid handbell ringer since 2007. Currently she is president of Brock House Kerrisdale Handbell Ringers (a Vancouver community group), and rings with BCBronze. She served as membership secretary of BCGEHR from 2012-2014, and is a volunteer Qi Gong instructor.

“I look forward to welcoming all of you to sunny Vancouver in July 2016. It will be a memorable experience to ring with the rest of the world under the sails on the waterfront of Vancouver.”


Ellen Ramsay, Promotions Coordinator

Ellen, who lives in Penticton, BC, first began ringing handbells in 1996 with the Kamloops Bells of Note and has been gleefully addicted to the magnificent art form since moment she rang her first bell. She has played with many church, community and special events choirs over the years, and has been involved with the administration of the BC Guild of English Handbell Ringers in various capacities beginning in 2001. Ellen currently serves as that organization’s president. She has yet to miss one of Canada’s national handbell festivals (Ringing Link) or any of the BCGEHR’s provincial events.

“After attending the 2004 and 2012 International Handbell Symposia, I am elated to be able to welcome the handbell world to Vancouver in 2016!”


Irvin Rubincam, Music Coordinator

Irvin has been directing the bell choir at Christ Church United in Mississauga, Ontario for 18 years. Active with the Ontario Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Irvin served as president of OGEHR from 2009–2011 and past president from 2011–2013. As well as his involvement with handbells, Irvin is an avid gardener and photographer.

“I’m looking forward to seeing you in beautiful Vancouver in July, 2016!”



Ron Vert, Secretary

Ron has been involved with handbells for 22 years, first learning the art form at the International Music Camp. An ordained and rostered minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, he has been serving Trinity Lutheran Church in Starbuck, Manitoba for 20 years. The founding chair of the Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers, Ron has served on the board of Handbell Guilds of Canada and as a representative to Area VII of Handbell Musicians of America.

“We as gathered handbell ringers, in national and international events, stand and ring for peace and cooperation regardless of race, colour, or creed. We model to the world our common unity — music.”


Kathie Zalasky, Social Coordinator

Kathie lives in St. Albert, Alberta with her husband, Percy, surrounded by children and eight grandchildren. She has rung handbells for 18 years at her church and is a founding member of Jubiloso! Bells of Concordia. Since having fun is a key component of her life, overseeing the social components of the 2016 Symposium is a great fit!

“I wish all participants a wonderful time in Vancouver!!”