Although the main business of the Guild was routine, it appears that there are changes ahead for the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers, and these could affect all Guilds and Associations.
At the Central Council Executive Meeting held at the end of September, the President of the Council, Simon Linford, spoke about a project tentatively called ‘Ringing 2030’ which is intended to plan for the future of ringing and to progress the plan. Part of the plan is to start a proper marketing campaign aimed at youngsters and to this end the Central Council has appointed a marketing agency called Yellowyoyo. Apparently, one of the their first observations was that ringing is ‘very disjointed’ – by that I suppose they mean it is all based on local districts and towers. It will be expensive to undertake this campaign and one probable change will be to make the Central Council a ‘Direct Membership Organisation’ (DMO) to which ringers would make direct individual subscriptions, rather than the present financing by precept from Guilds and Associations. This would seem to be a deliberate effort to bypass the traditional ringing associations with the objective of centralising both organisation and funding. The President is asking ringers to join ‘Ringing Forums’ in order to participate in these discussions.
Simon Linford has been the prime mover of many of the reforms to modernise the Council, but he is intending to step down next year when his term of office comes to an end. There is concern that this could lead to a loss of momentum in many of the initiatives that he has been involved with. This also includes the design and build of a Mobile Belfry, which has now achieved the required funding and is nearing completion.
Despite the real concerns for the future, the Guild and its Districts are still very active. A typical snapshot of events showed that Chertsey District had a Quarter Peal week from 1st to 8th October and an outing to the Chichester Diocese was due later in the month. Farnham District held a Ringing Ramble during August and instead of a quarter peal weekend, planned to hold a ‘Firsts Fortnight’ with the aim of encouraging all ringers to try something (anything) new for the first time. Guildford District had held a very successful Quarter Peal weekend in which 12 Quarters were scored. Leatherhead District held an outing to five towers around Berkshire, which was very well attended, and continue to hold their popular ‘Relaxed Ringing and Lunch’ meetings. The Guild’s Young Ringers held a joint practice with the Surrey Young Ringers at Epsom recently, and it is hoped to arrange further joint events. For more advanced ringers, Jenny Heyworth is re-starting monthly 10-bell Surprise Practices at St Nicolas, Guildford, with the first event planned for 25th November.
The Guild’s AGM will be held on Saturday 11th March in the Chertsey District, with the Guild 6-bell Striking Competition earlier in the same day.