Alison Wood

Alison Elizabeth Wood was a founding member of the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers (ALGEHR) in 1983 and later became its President. Having played and directed handbells for many years, she and a few other forward-thinking Canadian handbell musicians realized that there needed to be a coordinated provincial presence in order for Canada to be recognized in the international handbell world and at the International Handbell Committee (IHC) table. A Tri-Guild meeting of the Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan Guilds of English Handbell Ringers (ALGEHR, SGEHR, and OGEHR respectively) was held in Edmonton in 1991 bringing together the provincial guilds into a collective, working together cooperatively on special projects. Alison hosted this meeting in her home. On September 25, 1994 the provincial guilds, now including the British Columbia Guild of English Handbell Ringers (BCGEHR), formally adopted the name Handbell Guilds of Canada (HGC). HGC continued in this fashion until September 2001 when a National Executive and Board of Directors was officially formed with representation from all provincial guilds, by then including the Manitoba Guild of English Handbell Ringers (MBGEHR). Alison was a driving force behind the formal establishment of the national handbell guild linking the provincial guilds across Canada and providing an avenue for communication and sharing. Alison became the inaugural Chair of HGC and held that position until August 2004. As ALGEHR President, Alison was invited to chair the IHC meeting during Canada’s first-ever and very successful hosting of the International Handbell Symposium (IHS) in Edmonton in August 1992. Alison was elected the official representative and voting member representing the Canadian guilds at the 1994 IHS held in Adelaide, South Australia. As Chair of HGC, Alison began serving on the International Handbell Committee (IHC) and was involved for 18 years. In 2004 she was elected the IHC Executive Director, a role she held for four years. Alison is recognized as a handbell leader not only in Alberta but across Canada and internationally. As well as providing organizational and musical leadership provincially and nationally, Alison represented Canada as a conductor and clinician at various handbell festivals within the international handbell community, including Great Britain and USA. When the IHS was hosted in Vancouver, BC in 2016, Alison was presented with the International Handbell Committee’s International Handbell Laureate Award in recognition of her leadership and guidance of handbell ringing around the world. That same year Dr. John Hooper wrote a handbell composition entitled “Circles and Smiles,” a work commissioned by ALGEHR in honour of Alison. Alison has shared her great passion for music-making and building community through handbell ringing in Alberta, Canada and internationally.