What can we do for you? – An informal report of the May Guild Exec Meeting

“What can we do for you?” could be regarded as the theme for Jackie Roberts’ inaugural Executive Committee meeting as Master on 3rd May 2016, although the heavy agenda covered a huge range of issues, some of which had been building up for some time.

The first significant issue was that of revising the ‘Honours system’ for the Guild. The current system is not very satisfactory: as a sticking-plaster, a rather ad-hoc rule change was made at the AGM to increase the number of Vice Presidents from six to eight, but this still leaves difficulties in giving due recognition to all those who have given exceptional service to the Guild. It was agreed that a small group should consider the matter and report back to the next Executive Meeting.

The Guild’s finances are an important item at each Executive meeting. The Treasurer thanked the District Treasurers for collecting 75 % of the expected subscription income for the year, and overall the financial status of the Guild remained good. The big news was that Godalming had very quickly submitted Stage Two of their Bridget Gordon Legacy application for a grant towards a new ring of eight bells. They had obtained major commitments for half of the required funding and had the support of their local parish and diocesan authorities, so Committee was delighted to approve a grant of £40,000 subject to conditions.

The committee also approved a grant of £750 from the Bell Restoration Fund towards work at Ockham, and were notified that proposals to install a false ceiling at West Clandon to reduce sound levels were moving forward.

The first ever South East Young Ringers Striking Competition was held at Epsom Common on 4th April 2016 and Matthew Pearson’s article appeared on the front page of the Ringing World at the end of the month. Our local young ringers came fifth, but the scores were all close. Thanks and congratulations were given to Matthew and his father David Pearson who had done most of the organisation.

Training events were held in Holy Week and these had been well attended. The Training Officer, Mike Bale, was asked to review and advise on the activities of the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART).

The thorny question of Safeguarding was again addressed by the committee. Quentin Armitage has spent some time studying the legislation and guidance documents, pointing out various issues. The bottom line seems to be that those involved in teaching children must be cleared through the Diocese’s safeguarding system by each Parish’s safeguarding officer. This will require tower captains/trainers to have a DBS check, but certificates should then be valid throughout the Diocese. Further feedback is being prepared.

A further thorny and possibly bureaucratic issue was that of Health and Safety Policy. As with safeguarding, the Guild is a members’ association, not a governing body, and can only give guidance. Most parishes will have some form of H&S policy and this should cover ringing. However, the Central Council has produced a suggested draft policy and this will be reviewed to see if there are benefits in adopting this or some other form of H&S policy.

The perennial question of what resources and services should be provided by the Guild was again considered and the Master asked each member of the Executive Committee to report on which two things they thought that the Guild should be doing that it was not currently doing. It was also agreed that District Masters should consider how to perform a survey of the state of ringing in their towers.

So was the meeting worthwhile and productive? Most members seemed to think so – the provision of BRF grants, training and especially the young ringers’ group arguably justify the Guild’s existence in themselves.

If you have any opinions on what the Guild should be doing, and how it should be doing it, it is a good time to let your District Master know: they will be reporting back to the Exec and we can expect initiatives to follow. We certainly do not want ringing in this area to fall into the desperate circumstances that some places seem to be facing and that means constantly working to make our efforts relevant to the needs of our existing and future members.

Roger Tompsett
17 May 2016