The Guild’s primary objective is to support and encourage traditional bell ringing in the Diocese of Guildford, and business conducted at the October meeting evidenced the success that the Guild continues to achieve in that endeavour.
The very successful project to renew the eight bells at Godalming, partly funded by the Bridget Gordon Legacy, is now complete. Work on renewing the bells at Bramley is well under way and should be completed in the New Year. A major renewal project at Yorktown is being developed and should proceed in 2018. Proposals for a new ringing gallery at Chertsey are also in hand, with structural investigations being made. Proposals for a new ring of bells at Byfleet are also being supported by the Bridget Gordon Legacy. Separately from the Bridget Gordon Legacy, but supported by the Bell Restoration Fund, work on the restoration of Ewhurst bells is in hand.
Six new or greatly improved rings of bells in the Diocese – almost 10 % of our total ringing towers – is a major achievement by anyone’s standards. Who can seriously question what the Guild is for?
But that is not all. Another big issue of the moment is Safeguarding. The Church of England is working hard to raise its game in this area. It is no longer about a few DBS checks for leaders and trainers of ringers, but a whole new policy towards all volunteers. Jackie Roberts, our Guild Master, arranged for the Diocesan safeguarding team to present a special training course for tower captains and all leaders of ringing, and PCCs are now requiring all volunteer leaders to attend similar events. This is being supplemented by a ‘safer recruitment’ initiative by the church, which will require PCCs to implement a more formal recruitment and management process for the huge number of volunteers who work in the church. Jackie is working hard with our own safeguarding team to update our advice in this area, although as a members’ organisation we can’t undertake formal checks ourselves, we are taking steps to manage our responsibilities safely.
Of course, the main purpose of the Guild is to encourage ringing. Mike Bale, our training officer, ran a ‘train the trainer’ course at Aldershot in August and those trainers are now busy teaching new beginners. A ‘Raising and Lowering’ course is also being planned. The Young Ringers group is continuing to develop and has a schedule of future meetings. Some interesting outings had been organised by the districts, including a ‘Ringing Ramble’ organised by the Farnham District involving 13 ringers and four churches. October being Quarter Peal month, there had already been Quarter Peal days held in Leatherhead District where 44 members attempted 16 Quarters, and Farnham District where 9 out of 13 quarters were scored.
The Guild and its membership have been very active. There is plenty of ringing activity every day of the week – if you’re not involved, whatever your ability – it is certainly not through lack of opportunity. Some may say that all this would happen without the Guild, but of course this is not the case. The benefits of meeting people from a wider area, listening to ideas, getting help and encouraging each other just cannot be overestimated.