THINKING AHEAD – An informal report of the October ’16 Exec Meeting

Helping to keep the bells of the Diocese in good working order is perhaps one of the most important functions of the Guild. This is about more than routine ‘steeple keeping’. Bell installations are heavy-duty, complex mechanisms that need skill and money to maintain. Our Bell Restoration Fund receives and spends a great deal of time and money in this effort.

£90,000 has been committed to projects in this year alone! Of course, this would not have been possible without the Bridget Gordon Legacy, but there was already a substantial reserve available. At this month’s meeting alone, £35,000 was allocated – £25,000 to the Bramley project and £10,000 to St Mary’s Guildford. This is on top of the £3,500 awarded to Aldershot, £40,000 to Godalming and £12,500 to Ewhurst. We can be proud of the success of the Guild and its members in this effort. Perhaps we should do more to communicate this to our parishes and congregations?

One of the other special functions of the Guild is to maintain the Library, which is reputed to be one of the best specialist ringing libraries in the country. However, people are now getting their information in a completely different way – via the Internet. No longer do you need buy or borrow a printed book, an activity now viewed as being inconvenient and expensive, not only for borrowers but for lenders too.

So how should the Guild manage its library and archives in the future? Should it continue to buy books on ringing, in order to keep the library up-to-date in this rapidly changing world? If so, it would need a substantial budget, more storage and better borrowing or reading facilities.

As it happens, the Cathedral is going through the same exercise, and has engaged a volunteer to digitise its own archives, and they have kindly offered the services of the volunteer to digitise some of our archives, starting with the Executive Committee’s minute books. Of course, then we must find a way of making the records available to people. Now that most minutes and other ringing material is being produced digitally, some thought needs to be given to how this should be captured.

This brings us onto the website. At the last Exec there was a question as to how much the website is used. The answer is that it is viewed about 20 times a day. We made a decision some time ago that we would not run it as a ‘forum’ or ‘blog’ site allowing all members to post freely, because this had previously allowed hackers to get into the site and damage it. However, it should be possible to use it as an information resource, as it already is – with information on Districts, Towers, Rules, the BRF, Library, History and hopefully shortly on distinguished members. The PRO has been asked to work on updating these aspects of the website.

Training is another major activity of the Guild, especially at District and Tower level with recent ‘Train the Trainer’ courses being run by our Training Officer. This is our own very popular scheme, independent of the ART scheme, and worth attending if you wish to hone your skills in teaching basic bell handling.

Health and Safety policy was again addressed and a short Guidance Note on this was approved by the meeting.

A paper on safeguarding had been issued prior to the meeting, but it was felt that this needed further study and members were invited to submit their comments to the master.

The Young Ringers’ monthly practices were continuing and an outing to London was planned for half-term week. (This has already been reported on this website.)

The Guild is genuinely thriving and although it is easy to regard the Exec as a talking shop, there is a huge amount of valuable work being done. I hope this ‘Blog’ will encourage all members to value the Guild and support their officers in their endeavours.

Roger Tompsett, PRO