Business as usual – for how much longer? An informal view of the July ’17 Exec Meeting

Changes are afoot in the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. They want to do more than change the name: they want to change the structure to be more like that of a business. Apparently this is how many charities are structured, but there again, it is pretty hard to distinguish some charities from a business anyway.

Our CC reps reported that the Central Council members received the proposals with enthusiasm. John Couperthwaite advised the Exec Committee to read the proposals very carefully – the main report on the proposals is about 80 pages long, but it has been summarised in the Ringing World. In essence, the management of the re-named Central Council would be by an Executive of eight people, who would initially be selected by the present CC officers. The present CC reps would be greatly reduced in number and would attend the annual meeting much as shareholders attend the AGM of a company. John suggested that in the long term there would be a profound impact on all Guilds and Societies.

Various issues were raised by the Exec members, including the possibility of less democracy and greater fees payable by Guilds, Societies and ringers in general. John advised that ringers should engage with the debates as radical changes are expected to be made at the Central Council meeting next May.

The Young Ringers practices are to become more structured, taking place on the fourth Saturday of each month. There are about 18 Young Ringers at present, with David Pearson in charge. In relation to Safeguarding, David Pearson advised that the leader has appropriate clearances, and parents or their representatives should be present during practices and asked to ensure they were happy with the way these are conducted.

Safeguarding continues to be a major subject of discussion. The Church of England’s approach continues to evolve and is likely to become more bureaucratic. The responsibility for safeguarding in towers lies with the PCC and incumbent of the church, so as a members’ organisation, the Guild’s remit is only to inform its members as to these responsibilities.

The Guild’s accident insurance, covering work on bell installations, has become more expensive and the Bell Restoration Adviser and Treasurer were asked to review this.

The new bells at Godalming were first rung in mid-July, to the acclaim of those present. This is the first of the Bridget Gordon Legacy projects to be completed. It was agreed to increase the grant for the overhaul of Send bells to £10,000, to cover the additional cost of replacing the wheels, following the committee’s recommendation.

The Committee also recommended that the BRA and Treasurer should discuss ways for the Guild to be more pro-active over the Byfleet project. It is understood that there was a proposal for new bells at that tower some years ago, but it fell through over funding problems. The Guild does have considerable experience in obtaining funding such projects which could help to move the project forward.

A Train the Trainer course is being arranged for 18th/19th August. Anyone interested should contact Mike Bale. The course is aimed at experienced ringers who wish to learn how to teach bell handling to beginners. If you can’t make these dates, it is worth letting Mike know of your interest in this or other courses, since more will be arranged in the future.

It was agreed that we should offer future Guild reports in pdf format as this is preferred over the paper copy by some members. It was agreed that a list of long-serving Guild members should be put together. This could be included in a future report or published in some other way.

A start will be made on assembling a digital archive of the Guild’s papers in the Autumn. Consideration will be given to properly cataloguing them.

The Guild was asked by the Central Council’s PR adviser (Sue Hall, formerly of Leatherhead tower) to advise on how it engaged with the public to raise awareness of ringing. In responding to our PRO, she suggested that his response could be the basis of an article in RW.