As the lockdown grinds on, ringers are finding ways to fill the void, whilst meetings continue via Zoom. The February Executive Committee meeting is always busy as the Districts have held their ADMs and the new Exec meets for the first time. There were few changes this year, with the exception of Richard Pearce as Chertsey District Master and Jennifer Meade returning as the Chertsey Executive Committee member.
Ringers in several towers have taken the opportunity to get on with Bell Restoration projects, but the lockdown has had a severe financial impact on the Church of England as well as causing many ordinary people financial hardship. We understand that church authorities are questioning the need for their large, expensive buildings when on-line worship has become the norm over the last twelve months. Two bell restoration projects that have been offered very substantial grants from the Bell Restoration fund are currently in jeopardy due to the financial constraints of their parishes. Some authorities are suggesting that money-raising efforts for the bells will detract from other needs in the church and community and cannot be prioritised. Nevertheless, the BRF is still encouraging towers to apply for grants in relation to any projects that they would like to take forward.
Many towers are holding weekly ‘virtual pub’ sessions via Zoom. These seem to be greatly enjoyed. Others have taken up virtual ringing in the ‘Ringing Room’ app. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It does require a rather different approach compared with tower ringing or indeed handbell ringing, so someone with 20 years experience in the tower may not find themselves to be that much better than a novice – at least at first. But it is still fun with a friendly group, so give it a whirl. It is a really clever piece of software. It even has a virtual ringer called ‘Wheatley’ (although I think it is still a probationary learner!) that will ring any number of bells, leaving a gap for you. It is really very good and everyone needs to be brave enough to try it.
Returning to the more serious business of the meeting, the Safeguarding Policy has been revised in line with changes to the Guildford Diocese requirements. You will be relieved to know that it has somewhat relaxed the more onerous requirements for training. However, some further revisions are needed to ensure clarity prior to publishing it on the website.
The Guild’s Annual District Meeting will be held on 13th March as scheduled, but using Zoom. The present Guild Officers have all been nominated again. It is also hoped that it will be possible to run the 6-bell striking competition on ‘Ringing Room’ – the District Masters will each try to find two bands to participate, and the Guild Master will work out the format and rules.
However, there are still two vacancies for Central Council Representatives, which we would like to fill, especially as we are paying for them. Following the Council’s reorganisation, it is hoped that the representatives will take a pro-active role in one or more of the ‘Working Groups’ run by the Council that deal with issues of importance to ringers and ringing. To find out more about what is involved, please speak to the Guild Master, Jackie Roberts.
With the aim of preparing for the return to ringing as soon as the lockdown restrictions permit, the Central Council has set up a ‘Ringing Recovery’ programme. The aim is to get bands back together and fit for ringing. Nigel Smith has agreed to be the ‘Ringing Recovery Champion’ for the Guild and has already put some details into the news section of this website.
As far as ringing recruitment is concerned, we are trying to improve the way that enquiries from parents of youngsters are handled to ensure they get appropriate encouragement, during the present hiatus.
So with better weather, lighter evenings and the success of the country’s vaccination programme, the return to ringing is coming into view.