The first meeting after the District ADMs is always interesting, with new members to meet and budgets to agree. It was good to welcome Claire Le Marie as the Farnham District Secretary and Brian Shacklady as Guildford District Executive Committee Member.
Regarding the budgets for the year, there was nothing out of the ordinary as the Guild remains in good financial health, helped by an increase in membership during the year. Since expenditure was not forecast to increase significantly, there was no need for any increase in subscriptions.
Bell restoration projects supported by the Bridget Gordon Legacy were moving ahead despite some hurdles still to be crossed. A date had been set with Taylor’s Bell-foundry for the casting of the Godalming bells, which is likely to be the first of the BGL projects to be completed. Bramley was actively involved in fundraising and work could commence in the autumn. The other three main projects (Byfleet, Chertsey and Yorktown) continued to progress, with engineering and architectural design and approvals work in hand. A grant for the work at Send, Bridget Gordon’s home tower, was approved.
There were some upcoming demands on the ordinary Bell Restoration Fund. Fundraising was continuing for projects at Ewhurst and St Mary’s Guildford, for which grants had already been approved. An application for funding was also received from West Clandon, but this has been referred back to the tower for further clarification.
Up until the end of the 2016, the BRF has handed out grants totalling the remarkable amount of £227,000 since it was formed as a charity in 1979, and this will be greatly increased by the BGL. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing need for refurbishment of bell installations but Parochial Church Council (PCC) donations to the BRF were noticeably lower last year. Members were urged to continue to engage with PCCs to remind them that the generosity of grants relies on their contributions as well as the fund-raising work of the ringing community.
The Guild’s Annual Report is a major undertaking, ably produced in recent years by John Couperthwaite and Martin Turner. Superficially, the report looks more or less the same every year, but there are constant changes to Guild, District and Tower officers/contacts, ringing times and, of course, all the peals and other statistics. Much has to be done between the completion of the District ADMs at the end of January and the Guild AGM in mid-March. The report is the formal document of record of the Guild, and important for that, but it seems that members don’t always take their personal copy, with the result that many are left to languish in towers. This raises the question whether fewer copies could be printed, which could save the Guild some money. The situation would be kept under review.
Maintenance of the Guild’s Library and Archives continues to occupy the Executive’s meetings. The Cathedral is currently digitising the Guild’s minute books, but this is a slow process which will not be finished by the time the professional’s contract terminates in July, so the work will be continued by volunteers. There is then an issue of storing of these valuable documents, and making them available to members. This has been addressed in a report by the PRO, which suggested that ‘Cloud’ storage with backup on a hard drive would potentially make the documentation available to all who needed access.
The Young Ringers continued to hold monthly practices and they were planning to participate in the Ringing World Young Ringers Competition in Birmingham in the summer.
The Guild’s own programme of striking competitions were well in hand, with the 6-bell competition to be held on the day of the Guild’s AGM (11th March), and the 8-bell and 10-bell competitions in May and July at Farnborough and Haslemere respectively.
The programme of training events continues with ‘Simple Conducting’ and ‘Advanced bell handling for method ringers’ to be held shortly. The Holy Week training is to be on the subject of ‘Planning and Running a Recruitment Open Day’.
This highly productive meeting shows that the Guild is working hard to meet its objectives of providing mutual support and encouragement in the promotion of Sunday Service ringing and of the art of change ringing. This is an ongoing and sustained effort in the context of the problems faced by ringers in some areas, but the Guild has reason to be glad of its achievements in this Diocese.
KRT – Guild PRO