The meeting was keenly awaiting the removal of most Covid restrictions due on 19th July (one week after the meeting). Currently there has been some resumption of Sunday service ringing at many towers (with suitable social distancing and hygiene precautions) but with very limited practices – often by invitation only.
Ventilation is seen as an important factor in reducing cross-infection, but it was noted that ventilation in some towers was being compromised when church buildings were repurposed as community spaces without considering the environment for the ringers.
It was suggested that ringers should be consulted before such works were undertaken and that advice should be sought from our Diocesan Advisory Committee representative. At present our DAC representative was only involved with work on bells, but the Guild Master would discuss with our representative as to whether impact on ringers was a matter that the DAC should consider.
One extreme example of the impact on ringers was a tower (not in this Diocese) where one of the bells had to be rung from inside a toilet cubicle! However, there have been many other examples where doors have been fitted at the foot of towers, clock-weight shafts removed following electrification, ringing rooms moved to an upper floor, and so on, resulting in restriction of ventilation.
Our Ringing Recovery Champion, Nigel Smith, reported that his survey showed that members would like support on recruitment, training and maintenance. It was proposed that a small group should be convened to consider how best the Guild can provide this support. A particular issue is whether more training facilities are required. The Guild covers a large area and a Ringing Centre set up some years ago in central Guildford was little-used and eventually dismantled.
The next major Guild event is to be the Towers Open Day on Monday 3rd January 2022, mainly in the Leatherhead and Chertsey Districts. An organising sub-committee is preparing publicity and planning a route. The event will raise funds towards the National 12-Bell competition to be held at Guildford Cathedral on 25th June 2022, with a proportion also going to the BRF. Volunteers will be required for stewarding the visitors and for providing lunch, provisionally at Merrow Church Hall.