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Central Branch AGM, 11th January 2014

Ringing started at St. Chads, Welbourn at 3:00pm. Ringing ranged from Rounds & Call Changes to Grandsire and Stedman Triples and half a course of Cambridge.

Ringing at St. Chads
Assembling for the service

Just before 4:00pm we made our way into the church and sat in the pews for the service, led by the Reverend Alison Healy. The service followed the familiar format from the green book. Alison preached a short sermon on the bells calling us to an abundant life. The organ was played by Les Townsend who treated us to a burst of "Joy to the World" after the service.

Tea at "The Venue", Navenby

After the service we left the church and made our way to "The Venue" at Navenby for the tea. This consisted of sandwiches and sausage rolls with cake, tea and coffee. Before the meeting began the 100 club was drawn.

The President, Margaret Parker, opened the meeting by welcoming the members of which there were about 50, including some from other branches. She thanked the Revd. Alison Healy for taking the service, Les Townsend for playing the organ and the local band for organising the use of the bells. Also people for bringing the cake and sandwiches. There was then a minutes silence in memory of Central Branch members who had passed away in the previous year, these being Gill Bland (Heckington) and Gerald Audis (Martin).

After the apologies for absence the meeting moved onto the minutes of the previous AGM. These were approved by the members. The secretary (Fiona Dawson) then gave her report

Secretary's Report

7 new members had been elected at the previous AGM held at Heckington and there had been one transfer from another branch. Congratulations were extended to Hannah Watts (Welton) for ringing her 1st 1/4 and for being a member of the National Youth team that competed at York last year. Congratulations were also extended to James Northway for ringing his 1st Peal in celebration of the 60th anniversary Queen's Coronation. The Central branch events had been quite varied and different from previous years. This included the Mablethorpe outing with a paddle in the sea and a joint meeting and a walk with the Northern Branch. The Loughborough Bell Foundry visit was unfortunately not very well attended, but had been very much enjoyed by those who had gone along. There was a training day in April at Blankney where members were instructed in some basic conducting skills and were then able to practice the skills on the bells afterwards. The traditional BBQ was replaced with another walk and ring and some fun and games and the Quiz Night had a new venue at Brant Broughton. Only 3 teams competed in the branch 6 bell striking competition and turn out was similarly poor at the Rabbits. The Guild is currently undergoing a review. Members are invited to make comments and contributions.

After the secretary had given her report, it was pointed out that 2 transfers from other branches had occured the previous year and not one. The Guild Webmaster pointed out that he had not received any information about the Loughborough Bell Foundry visit to put on the web and perhaps a lack of information had contributed to the poor attendance. The Treasurer (Dot Mason) then gave her report.

Treasurer's Report

Dot Mason had distributed a balance sheet showing the state of the accounts. Some rope had been bought from Tower Essentials. Some of this has already been sold on to towers requiring new top end rope. If anyone needs some rope contact Mick Stracey. There was a BRF Grant of £50 to St. GIles to help pay for the repairs to the 5th. Also it has been agreed to give Thorpe £160 towards the cost of their ropes. This year we have been able to sell both Christmas Cards and Calendars. £544 has been raised from the Christmas Cards and £350 from the Calendars.

Roy Chapman thanked the committee on behalf of Thorpe-on-the-Hill for the contribution towards the new ropes. John Underwood raised a concern that the grants from the BRF were decided solely by the committee. It had been his experience that when he was a member of the West Lindsey Branch, the Grants were decided by the members at the AGM (or other branch meeting). This prompted a lengthy debate with views ranging from "the members contribute to the BRF, so we should have a say" to "what do we have a Branch Committee for if not to handle these situations". It was eventually agreed that members should discuss this amongst themselves and this issue will be raised as an agenda item at the next meeting.

The meeting now turned to the election of officers. The situation remains largely unchanged. Stan Underwood was not seeking re-election to the Branch committee. Chris Woodcock agreed to take his place as a committee member. The new list officers is therefore as follows.

President: Margaret Parker
Treasurer: Dot Mason
Secretary: Fiona Dawson
Ringing Master: Richard Spencer
Safeguarding Officer: Jonathan Clark
Guild Fund Raising Rep: Christine Jackson
Guild Committee Rep: Heather Blacklock
Committee members: Chris Woodcock, John Nicholson, Susan Waterfall & Mick Stracey
Account Examiners: Alan Haines & John Carr

John Carr is not very well at the moment but it was felt he should remain as an Account Examiner until such time as he indicated otherwise.

The meeting turned to the voting in of New Members. Heckington led the way here, with two transfers from the Southern Branch and 6 new members. Chris Woodcock proposed 3 new members from Metheringham, Nocton and St. Botolphs in the City. There was one new member from Nettleham. There was a brief discussion on whether a member could be a member of two branches and vote in both branches, but it was discovered that the question was academic as this situation did not currently exist as far as the committee were aware. The Ringing Master then gave his report and outlined the events list for the coming year.

Ringing Master's Report

Richard Spencer reported a quieter year after the 2012 celebrations. There were 3 out of branch meetings as well as our regular meetings which were enjoyed by those who attended. The Sunday Service ringing at the Cathedral enabled members to gain some experience on higher numbers of bells. Only 2 towers entered teams into the Branch 6 bell. It would be nice to have a real Branch Striking contest, so can towers please consider making an effort in 2014. The proposed Meeting Programme for 2014 is published and hopefully will appeal to members of all abilities. Richard finished by thanking the Incumbents, Tower Captains and members who have given their support in 2013 and he hopes 2014 will be a successful year for the Branch.

Richard pointed out that due to the way the rotations had worked out, the Central Branch will be hosting both the 6 and 8 Bell Guild Finals. This means our September meeting will get displaced, so we are therefore having another joint meeting later in September with the Northern Branch. Due to the lack of teams that turned out for the Branch 6 Bell Contest, the meeting at Wellingore will just be a regular meeting, but if sufficient interest is shown it will become the 6 Bell Branch Contest instead. Please write to the Branch Secretary at least a month in advance if you are intending to enter a team. The rules for both 6 and 8 bell competitions are in the Guild Report.

The President (Margaret Parker) pointed out that although there was no Training Day as such in the programme, she and Sandra Underwood would be willing to run a seminar based on the training they had received as part of the ITTS training scheme that they have both been involved in. However they would have to have an indication of numbers before they will arrange such a seminar. The Ringing Master's Report was accepted by the members.

The Guild Committee Member's report is to be published in the newsletter and it was agreed that the members would wait for the publication of the Newsletter rather than have the report at the AGM.

The meeting was paused briefly, while the raffle was drawn.

Guild Review

The Guild Master (Alan Payne) then addressed the members. This was concerning the Guild Review. We are heading for a lot of changes. The decisions on what changes are made to the Guild will happen at the AGMs, so it is important that members attend. Attendance at the Guild AGM in April is down to about 10% of the membership. This is not good from a democracy point of view and more people need to give feedback on the proposed changes. 4 white papers have already been published and circulated round the members for discussion. There will be more white papers to follow. There is a single page summary document of the 4 white papers available to the members. Will members please give any feedback on the white papers by the end of February.

Guild AGM Format

As part of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild review, one of the working groups has been considering arrangements for the Guild AGM. Attendance at the main decision making forum for the Guild has declined considerably over the last 10 years and a change in format is suggested in order to make the day more attractive and include more members. Members were asked to select one of the options below by ballot at their Branch AGMs in January 2014. The intention is that the change of format will be effective from April 2015.

Option 1

AGM is held in each Branch in rotation. Branches will be responsible for selecting a venue for the meeting, arranging lunch and organising and running towers.

Option 2

AGM is held in Lincoln, with a Communion Service at the beginning of the day in the Ringersí Chapel at the Cathedral. Lunch is held out of Lincoln in each Branch in rotation (near to Lincoln) organised by the Branch, which would also organise and run ringing at towers in the Branch.

Option 3

AGM continues as up to 2014: Communion Service at the beginning of the day, AGM and lunch in Lincoln. Ringing at Lincoln towers. Ring for Evensong at the Cathedral. Attend Evensong at the Cathedral.

Members unable to choose any of the above three options were asked to comment on what their preferred Guild AGM arrangements would be.

This prompted some lively discussion. Option 3 is what we have now. Option 2 was felt to be a non-starter as it involved a lot of travelling. Option 1 is better, but could potentially represent a lot of travelling for some members if the meeting is located at some geographical extreme. Alan Payne is of the opinion that the Guild AGM day is far too long. There is a considerable drop off throughout the day. Maybe a different arrangement is necessary. John Underwood asked for clarification as to what was meant by "Lincoln towers"? Was it just the High Street towers and St. Giles. Alan felt that it meant towers in a 5 mile (or so) radius of the Cathedral and could include towers at say Nettleham and Washingborough. Chris Woodcock pointed out that the 3 options focused mainly on the location of the AGM and perhaps location isn't the problem, but rather the format of the AGM is the problem. Lincoln is a good location for the AGM. It is central and while some of the road networks around Lincolnshire are not ideal, the roads into Lincoln itself from other parts of the county are pretty reasonable. Lincoln is relatively easy for all members to get to. If we want a guild event that travels about the county, perhaps we could have a half year meeting or make more use of the Guild 6 and 8 bell competitions which already move round the county.

It was therefore decided to put forward our own Branch proposal that the AGM remain in Lincoln, but the format be addressed to make the day more appealing to members, probably making it shorter.

Any Other Business

Jim Sutherland pointed out that the vicar of Wragby is having a Burns Supper on the 25th at 7:30pm in the Town Hall. It would be nice if some of the ringers can attend and support this as the vicar is very supportive of the Wragby tower.

The President declared the meeting closed. Dot Mason proceeded to collect subscriptions from the members.

After having cleared the hall, the members reassembled in the ringing room at Navenby until about 9:00pm

All in all a very successful meeting with a good attendance. Many thanks to the local ringers and all the others who worked hard to make it an enjoyable evening.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)