Executive Matters – an informal account of the July meeting

Once again the Executive Committee had to tackle a long list of sometimes tricky matters, and this blog is my attempt to summarise the discussions in a digestible form. This isn’t meant as a formal record, but an attempt to give some insight into the discussions that took place.

Two tricky items were Health and Safety, and Safeguarding. The committee has to bear in mind that it is a membership organisation and not a governing body, and so its role in these matters is largely to provide advice and information to members. Our current advice is shown in the Guild report and on the web-site. The officers are checking on this information and deciding if and how it should be updated.

In relation to Safeguarding, it was noted that the Diocese is offering training to Tower Captains and Trainers. The Master is keen for towers to avail themselves of this and she will circulate further details. Much of the training is about being aware of risks and avoiding risky situations. This can protect everyone. Legal approval of personnel, whilst necessary, is not sufficient on its own.

Some useful documents showing different approaches to Health and Safety policy were discussed. It was noted that these may not be appropriate for an organisation like the Guild, which does not have any mechanism for enforcement, but they could nevertheless be invaluable for training. The best way forward may be to provide Guidance papers and to offer training in health and safety in relation to ringing.

On an easier subject, Michael Bryant had submitted a paper outlining the Surrey Association’s ‘Fellowship Awards’ scheme under which monetary awards can be made to aid social interaction of ringers – such as making ringing chambers more inviting, ringing more visible to the public, supporting social events/outings and even for expenses in relation to national ringing events. The view was expressed that districts already had funds at their disposal that could be (and sometimes were) used for such things. It was agreed that further discussion should be postponed until Michael could present his ideas in detail, but meanwhile members were asked to provide feedback to Michael.

In relation to the Bridget Gordon Legacy, there had been an issue in relation to the Faculty for the Godalming project, which permitted the bells to be ‘recast’. The Diocesan authorities had understood this to mean that the old bells would be melted down and made into the new bells. However, bell founders don’t do this – they use new metal because they can then be certain of its quality and of getting good castings. Moreover, in the case of Godalming, the founders intended to retune and redeploy the old bells in a chime in New Zealand.  Whilst this is clearly an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective thing to do, the Diocesan authorities refuse to permit this under the existing faculty. Accordingly, a re-think is needed.

However, a grant of £12,500 from the ordinary BRF has been authorised, subject to conditions, for the Ewhurst project, which is a major refurbishment.

Our web-site is not only a means of communicating with members, but increasingly a repository of information and advice, as this is more convenient and immediate than keeping the information in the Library or printing it in the report. The Committee considered that it would be useful for the web-site to present a resumé of ‘Milestones’ in the Guild’s history, as this was apparently last published in the 1991 Guild report. The PRO is now updating the list, with help. The Committee also thought it would be useful to have biographies of Vice Presidents on the web-site. The PRO was also asked to find out how many ‘hits’ the web-site receives. The answer is that it is viewed about 20 times a day on average.

The Guild continues to be very active in Recruitment and Training. There have been various initiatives, including open days at Crondall and Merrow, which will require follow-up training. There will be a ‘Train the trainer’ course at Epsom on 26/27th August. The trainees at Leatherhead are doing very well, with one member participating in the Young Ringers competition and scoring her first quarter peal on her 13th birthday.

The Young Ringers did exceptionally well at the Ringing World National Youth Contest at the beginning of July, narrowly missing out on a place in the final. The Master noted that the Guild should be proud of them.

Roger Tompsett, PRO.