A successful year – informal summary of Feb 2019 Exec Meeting

The big event of 2018 had been the ‘Ringing Remembers’ commemorations for the centenary of the armistice ending the Great War. Along with this had been the recruitment of many new ringers – the most successful national recruitment campaign since the Millennium. The Winchester and Portsmouth Guild (the successor to the Winchester Guild, to which a large proportion of Guild towers belonged in 1918) had created a Book of Remembrance that recorded every piece of Remembrance ringing in former Winchester Guild towers since 1918. Copies were being presented to Winchester Cathedral and Portsmouth Cathedral.

The Guild’s website had been temporarily suspended following concerns raised at the November Exec Meeting regarding compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). After the Guild Officers consulted the Information Commissioner’s Office and other authorities, it was agreed to reinstate the website after some changes had been made and certain permissions had been obtained. This had not entirely allayed all concerns of the committee, as the GDPR, being a wide-ranging but generalised set of requirements, was open to various interpretations. Showing publicly-posed photographs, names of officers, participants in ringing events and other similar ‘personal information’ are part of the purpose of the Guild and its website, but should anyone complain about their details being shown, they would be immediately removed.

The Guild’s financial position remains healthy, with the general admin fund remaining in surplus, helped by savings made by not renewing the Personal Accident Insurance and reducing the number of printed copies of the Guild report. It was therefore proposed that some of the surplus should be transferred to the Bell Restoration Fund (BRF). Grants totalling over £54,000 had been paid to six projects by the BRF in 2018, the most in any year since the foundation of the fund. However, interest from investments is declining as the Bridget Gordon Legacy is spent, and it was agreed that Tower Captains should be asked to present a letter requesting donations directly to PCC Treasurers this year, because donations had declined significantly.

The Yorktown (Camberley) bell restoration project was progressing rapidly with the installation of the new frame expected in March, followed by the installation of the new bells in early April. More ambitious and costly ideas for the new ringing gallery at Chertsey were emerging from the detailed design work. The committee agreed to extend the timescale for the grant that had been proposed under the Bridget Gordon Legacy, but would defer consideration of any increase in the amount of the grant until more details were available.

It was agreed that Crondall should be offered a grant towards new adjustable crown staple units intended to make it easier to correct odd-struckness of the bells. This is an interesting concept for older bells where normal remedies for odd-struckness have not been successful.

The Guild’s Library received very few visitors during 2018. However, the Chertsey District Bookstall now had new volunteers to look after it and to take it to relevant meetings within the various Districts.

Training courses had been arranged for Holy Week and the preceding week. These would include Raising and Lowering; Belfry Maintenance; Bob Calling for Beginners; and Listening Skills. Mike Bale, Training Officer, presented a discussion document on Guild Training with the idea of developing a structured training programme. He asked for members to provide feedback on this.

The Young Ringers Group was being well-attended, with up to 14 at each of the monthly practices and new young ringers coming forward. They would be entering the South-East Young Ringers competition in April, but had been unable to enter the Ringing World competition in Liverpool this year, owing to its timing and the distance involved.

The Guild Secretary, Margaret Bale, was not standing for re-election, and the meeting recorded its gratitude for her dedication and hard work.