The February Exec meeting is always an important one, when new District Officers are welcomed and budgets are scrutinised. Jenny Heyworth and Stuart Aitken were welcomed as new Leatherhead and Farnham District Masters respectively.
Subscriptions will remain at their present level next year. The Exec has kept costs under control by cutting the Personal Accident Insurance and by reducing the number of copies of the Guild report being printed. It was felt that these measures would not have any significant effect on members. It will be possible to download copies of the 2017 report from the Guild’s website. Membership numbers have remained almost the same as last year. The question of a minimum standard for membership was raised during a later discussion, when it was agreed that should not be a requirement.
In respect of the Bell Restoration Fund, it is disappointing to note that there has been a drop in PCC and Tower donations. This is a pity considering the amount that the Guild gives out in grants, and perhaps towers should make sure that their members and PCCs are fully aware of the work of the Bell Restoration Fund. Bridget Gordon Legacy projects continue to progress, with an impressive submission from Yorktown which includes new teaching facilities for ringing.
In relation to projects supported by ordinary BRF funding, Ewhurst bells were expected to be re-installed on 9th March and a rededication service was planned for 11th March. The noise attenuation work at West Clandon had been completed and the bells were much quieter. A request for a grant towards external sound control at Guildford Holy Trinity had been received, but a decision was deferred to the next meeting pending further information. A crack had been found in a cast-iron frame side at Ewell. Advice on repair has been obtained; meanwhile it is safe for ringing to continue.
Government regulations are always there to keep us on our toes. The latest is the General Data Protection Regulation which is a new EU regulation that supersedes the Data Protection Act. The Regulation is intended to give people more control over their ‘on-line’ lives, and extends the obligations previously embodied in the Data Protection Act. As far as the Guild’s activities are concerned, one of the main changes will be the need to have parental permission to hold any information relating to children. The Exec agreed that it will be necessary to have a membership application form in future so that the correct information could be obtained and safely recorded.
The issue of Safeguarding was discussed. The Church of England has introduced a new ‘Safer Recruiting’ policy, which means that each Parochial Church Council has a responsibility to know all the volunteers in their church – including bell ringers. The concern is that as other organisations tighten up their volunteering policy, the church must not become an easier target for criminals. This policy is being implemented in the Guildford Diocese and it includes mandatory training for all leaders (including volunteers) within the church. The Exec recommends that all ringers should attend one of the courses being run by the Diocese.
The Young Ringers continue to thrive and would be entering bands for the South East Striking Competition and the Ringing World national competition. Jack Edwards and Matthew Pearson had recently participated in the youngest ever peal of Surprise Maximus, and the Committee extends its congratulations to them.
A national tribute to the Armed Forces of the First World War on the centenary of the armistice was planned for 11th November 2018. Called ‘The Battle’s Over’, all churches are being encouraged to ring their bells at 7.05 pm on that day. The Guild will leave this to the discretion of individual churches, who can register their participation with the national organiser.