Probably the most significant work of the Guild is in relation to the Bell Restoration Fund. Many projects are live at the moment: Ewhurst, Guildford St Mary, West Clandon are assisted by the General BRF; Godalming, Bramley, Yorktown, Send, Byfleet and Chertsey are assisted by the Bridget Gordon Legacy. The committee discussed the progress of these projects, including the need for a number of the Bridget Gordon projects to submit more detailed proposals before the end of the year. It seems clear that for some churches at least, it is relatively easier to raise funding for bell projects than for fabric repairs or other work needed to bring churches up to modern expectations. This is creating problems as churches, quite understandably, often see these other projects as of higher priority.
Safeguarding is another area of significance to the Guild, especially in the light of events at York Minster, where the whole band was sacked by the Dean. The Guild Master had arranged some special Safeguarding Training for ringers, especially Tower Captains: she encouraged all members of the Exec to attend. This has now been held and it is understood that the rather legalistic approach being taken by the authorities caused dismay amongst some delegates. We await a formal report as we will need to update the information given on our website.
One of our Central Council Representatives, Anne Anthony, was resigning for personal reasons. Since the annual meeting of the Central Council was due fairly soon, it was agreed that the resulting vacancy should be left open until the Guild’s AGM next year, when a new representative could be formally appointed.
The Committee had asked John Couperthwaite to write a guidance note on the procedure to be used when generating proposals for the election of Vice Presidents of the Guild, as difficulties had been encountered last time. Some members of the committee felt that the paper did not go far enough in preventing a recurrence of the difficulties, but John felt that by setting out a number of stages, it would promote more ordered thought and that common sense would always be required. The guidance note was approved.
The Guild does not provide other means of recognition for members who have made significant contributions to its work, except, perhaps, listing past officers in the report. It was agreed that all such recognition was to some extent subjective and could lead to problems, however well intentioned. However, it might be possible to list long-serving members. John Young has a card index inherited from Pam Bird with membership details, which he has updated to a spreadsheet and he has agreed to look at how information on length of membership could be extracted.
It has previously been noted that the Guild Report is one of the biggest costs to the General Fund, yet it seems that quite a number of members do not take up their copy. It was agreed that prior to the next issue of the report, towers would be asked if they needed all their copies and if not, the number printed could be reduced, at a saving in the order of £1 per copy.
Archiving continues to be discussed. The Minute Book from 1928 to approximately 1971 has been digitised by the Cathedral: Malcolm Loveday has a copy. It occupies most of a DVD so we need to decide how this should be stored. There was discussion of exactly what other items should be stored this way. It was suggested that the Library catalogue already had a list of documents archived in paper form and that this information would be provided to the Master and PRO for consideration. [Post-meeting note: Malcolm Loveday told the PRO that the Cathedral Library still had the digitiser and would be happy for a volunteer to use it to digitise more Guild material.]
New Members: The Guild Secretary pointed out that Membership Certificates are available on request for new members, as was a leaflet describing membership activities and benefits. There was also a need to keep membership of the email groups up to date.
The Master had held a meeting to review the resources and services provided by the Guild and would report back on this.
The Young Ringers group continues to meet regularly and despite the inevitable rapid change-over resulting from age limitations, continues to be well-attended. They had been unable to form a band for the annual Ringing World competition, but they participated in the South-East England competition and were not discouraged by the result.
Roger Tompsett, PRO.