This was the first in-person Exec Committee meeting since Covid restrictions were introduced in spring 2020. There was still considerable uncertainty about what ringing was allowed, now and for the foreseeable future, although ringing has resumed in most towers, albeit with some restrictions, such as mask wearing, Covid testing and limiting numbers, depending on local circumstances.
Amongst the issues raised by the Covid restrictions was tower ventilation. This is poor in many ringing chambers and there has been a tendency to overlook ringing in general in some churches where alterations have been made to permit wider use of the building. It was suggested that ringers should be among the consultees when churches apply for a faculty for introducing changes. This can even apply to relatively simple things such as rewiring, for example where light switches have been placed so that they can be easily turned off accidentally by someone leaning on the wall of a crowded ringing chamber. In another case, where ventilation was considered, the builders were intending to cut a hole for a fan through the ringing chamber ceiling directly into the bell chamber!
Ringing Recovery was being actively pursued by our Ringing Recovery Champion, Nigel Smith. It is widely recognised that the Exercise is short of ringers and that greater efforts are needed to boost both recruitment and training. Indeed, the Guild is short of experienced trainers, especially younger ones, and needs to give this some attention.
Nevertheless, two Leatherhead ringers had achieved their first peal, Bob Major, on these heavy bells, with a District band supported by Richard Burton as conductor.
The big event being planned for the New Year is the Guild Open Towers Day, as part of fund-raising activities for the National 12-Bell Striking Competition to be held at Guildford Cathedral in June 2022. [This was subsequently postponed owing the Omicron variant of Covid causing a vast rise in infections.]
The next big event is the Guild AGM to be held on Saturday 12th March in the Leatherhead District, along with the Guild 6-bell striking competition. This is likely to be in the Merrow/ West Clandon area.
Finally, in an important update on Bell Restoration, the bells at Frensham are to be removed for a major overhaul early in the New Year.