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Central Branch AGM, 11th January 2015

Rather unusually for the webmaster I arrived early at St. John's, Washingborough, but then I was opening up the tower.

There were already a group of people waiting in the porch, including the organist, who had arrived early to get familiar with the instrument.

The bells were already up apart from the tenor and ringing soon got underway with some Plain Bob Minor. More people turned up including the Branch Ringing Master, Richard Spencer who took over the proceedings. I had to get away to open up the Methodist Church and ensure that the ladies doing the catering could get into the kitchen there.

In the tower at St. John's

Eventually I made it back up to the church and managed a bit more ringing including some Lincolnshire Surprise Major, before we descended the tower into the church for the service at 4:30.

The service was conducted by the Revd Les Whitfield, a "retired" vicar (do vicars ever retire?) who lives in Washingborough and has been helping out during the interregnum there. Les preached a short sermon about the human factor in ringing the bells and their importance in making the church present in the community. The webmaster (Jonathan Clark) led the prayers. The service used the usual green bellringers service booklet. The organ was played by David Radwell who played Marche Triomphale by Karg Elert after the service.

The members get ready for the service

After the service the members made their way down to the Methodist Church Hall for a traditional bellringer's tea of sausage, mash and peas, followed by assorted crumble and custard. As usual there were copious amounts of tea and coffee consumed.

Once tea was over, Margaret Parker called the meeting to order.

The members enjoy tea in the Methodist Church Hall

The first item was a vote of thanks to Revd Les Whitfield for taking the service and to the organist, David Radwell, for standing in for Les Townsend who was unavailable to play this year. A really big thank-you went to all who helped make the lovely tea.

There was then a moment of silence for those ringers who had passed away in the last year, John Carr, Janice Bones, Walter Frogett, Martin Pearson, Helen Watt and Dennis Sutton.

After the apologies for absence had been taken, the Minutes of last meeting held at Navenby were read out. These were accepted by the members with no matters arising

Secretary's report

The year began in January at Navenby with the AGM. We have lost too many ringers this year, although 2 have left bequests in their will to the branch. Perhaps we could all consider doing something similar. The simulator at Wragby has been restored, thanks in no small part to the efforts of John Nicholson's efforts. This is a useful teaching aid. At the monthly branch meetings, the events with food were the most popular. It was pleasing to see the Rabbits competition well supported, although choosing the best pork pie was not an easy task. The Central Branch hosted both 6 and 8 bell competitions and one Central Branch band was placed 2nd in the Plate. One young member represented the branch in the National Youth Contest at Worcester. The midweek practices have continued this year with an extra 8 bell practice on a Saturday. These practices are open to all members and enable people to progress their ringing in a relaxed atmosphere Please support these activities. However it is always advisable to check first to make sure the practice is happening. Next year is the celebration of the Magna Carta. There are opportunities here for ringers to celebrate this in the usual manner.

Treasurer's Report

We have 130 senior and 9 junior members. We are 3 down on seniors from last year. However the number of junior members remains the same. The profit from teas is up this year because of hosting the 8 and 6 bell competitions. There is still some top end rope available. See Mick Stracey for details Cost of the AGM last year was £70. Concerning the Belfry Repair Fund, a grant of £500 was made to Bassingham, £75 to St. Mary-le-Wigford and £160 to Thorpe-on-the Hill. The donations from Martin Pearson's Funeral totalled £280 and this was placed in the Belfry Repair Fund as requested by Martin in his will. The raffle raised £405.10 and the surplus from the Magazine was £160. There had not been enough time to have the accounts audited.

The accounts were accepted by the members

Election of Officers

This was pretty much a re-election of the existing officers.

The representative to the Guild Committee meeting was Heather Blacklock, but she has stood down. The secretary will try and cover this post, but if she can't make it, she would like permission from the members to call upon either John Nicholson or Jonathan Clark to represent the branch, since they will be in attendance anyway.

The Branch committee reps are Mick Stracey, Sue Waterfall, John Nicholson and Chris Woodcock. Chris is not seeking re-election this year. Jean Kay was elected to the position.

The account auditors are Alan Haynes and John Carr. John Carr is no longer with us, so it was necessary to elect someone to take his place.

Geoff Wilkinson did it last year and may be willing to take on the role. It was agreed that the committee should co-opt him if he is willing.

The list of officers therefore stands 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: By Proxy (see above)
Committee members: Jean Kay, John Nicholson, Susan Waterfall & Mick Stracey
Account Examiners: Alan Haines & Geoff Wilkinson (to be co-opted)

The meeting in progress. From left to right:
Fiona Dawson (secretary), Margeret Parker (President)
Richard Spencer (Ringing Master)

Election of new members

3 adults and 1 junior were proposed from Heckington and 2 adults (1 a re-joiner) were proposed from Timberland. They were all voted in by the members.

Ringing Master's Report and Meetings for the year.

The meetings throughout the year have been reasonably well attended. The Branch striking competition was held at Wellingore. 6 teams entered the Rabbits at Thorpe-on-the-Hill. The ringing with the quiz and Pork Pie contest was very popular. The Sunday Evensong ringing in August at the Cathedral enabled members to enjoy ringing on higher numbers of bells. With the Guild 6 bell in September displacing the normal Branch meeting, the Branch arranged a joint meeting with the Northern Branch at Louth / Wragby on the 3rd Saturday. Attendance was not particularly good. The October meeting was similarly displaced to the 3rd Saturday due to the branch hosting the Guild 8 bell at Washingborough. The meeting was held at Waddington and was not particularly well attended due to the change of date.

Richard thanked all the Incumbents and Tower Captains who have welcomed the Central Branch and those members who have given their support in 2014.

Programme

Click Here for the Programme

Note there have been one or two changes. The Ruskington meeting in February is now Sleaford due to problems with the bells. Please also note the change of time.

The Rabbits meeting will be at Nocton. The tasting contest will be now be sausages. This can included foreign sausages like Bratwurst

The July meeting will be a joint with the Southern Branch

The September meeting is displaced by the 6 bell final, so the intention is to have a Branch outing the following weekend. There is no Branch 6 bell contest anymore, because the Guild 6 bell contest is now an open contest The Guild 6 bell is being hosted by the Northern Branch on the 12th of September and the Guild 8 bell is being hosted by the Southern Branch on the ??th of October The quiz has moved from Brant Broughton to St. Giles, Lincoln and we are also at St. Giles for the Carol Service in December. The AGM in January 2016 will be at Sleaford.

Any Other Business

The next 2 items accounted for the remaining half of the meeting

A training fund will be set up as of now, but will not be active until Jan 2016. Donations can be made into this fund as of now. Branches may wish to make a one off donation to this fund. There is a proposal that 10% (or £1) of the subcription fee go to the training fund and the BRF fund be reduced to 25%. Also we need to canvas what the branches want from a training fund. There was quite a lot of discussion on how such a training budget should be spent. Alan Payne kicked it off. Basically, before the AGM in April the branches need to decide how such a training budget should be spent. It's no good saying we want money from the members if we have no idea what we are going to use it for, so it is important that the branches give this some thought, otherwise the Guild committee will come up with ideas for the AGM. There was some concern that we would be cutting the BRF quota.

There was some talk of a Guild event in July that might be a fund raising event that could help fund the training budget. However Alan Payne stated that this was going to be more of a Guild festival / Young Ringers Day on the 25th July, but not necessarily a fund raiser. Alan is seeking thoughts and ideas from the branches, regarding how this training budget should be spent. Numbers are dropping, so we need to be recruiting and training. Ideas include but are not limited to equipment, facilities, dumb bells, simulators, costs of employing professional teachers, etc.. The maximum benefit may be obtained if we run one / two day courses or maybe even 3 day weekend courses within the Lincoln Guild Area.

The other half of what we are looking for is a PR officer, someone to do the advertising to the public at large, schools etc. The officer would not be expected to do all the work, but point us in the right direction. Someone pointed out that £1 per member is not going to go very far, and the BRF fund is pretty healthy at the moment, perhaps we should be paying more in subscriptions, or make towers pay for the Guild report. Alan Payne thought that putting the subscriptions up is probably not the right thing to do, at least not at the moment while we have no plan in place. Margaret Parker summarised the request to the members. Everyone should have a think and talk to the local committee members before the February committee meetings.

Margaret and Sandra have attempted in the past to organise some courses and only had one person show any interest. However when they cancelled they got a number of people saying "Oh! I was going to come to that." A lot of the problem is that people will not commit to these courses and it really needs someone to coordinate people coming. We need to advertising it and opening it up beyond the branch. We could have a morning session for simple methods and an afternoon session for more complex methods. Maybe make it a Guild event 4 times a year. Someone else suggested that it should be run like organising a Peal. Target individuals, get their names and get them to turn up. Maybe you just need 4 learners and 6 "experts" (one per rope) to really bring them along.

Someone else pointed out that if something is free then it's not worth anything. One of the best training courses was where the students were charged £25 each and that included lunch and evening meal as well as the training out of the tower, 2 or 3 towers for practicing and a ring at the Cathedral in the evening as a treat. The instructor would not have made any money on it. Basically if you have coughed up £25 for something, you are going to turn up.

Margaret Parker drew a halt to further discussion, asking the member to contact their local reps before the committee meeting.

Two very brief topics were how do fill the time between lunch and Evensong ringing at the Guild AGM in April. Also there is the Guild event in July. What do we want it to be? Please think about it and pass the information on.

There is a proposal to change to the name of the Guild to the "Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Change Ringers", as opposed to the current name which is the "Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers"

This became a quite hotly debated topic with many people arguing for and against.

The "For" camp argued that the Guild membership represents about 210 or so towers, but there are another 420 towers in the Guild with at least one bell and maybe as many as 3 bells and these bells get rung regularly for Sunday service by dedicated people, who would all call themselves Church bellringers, but who are not members of the Guild. It is change ringing (including rounds and call changes) that we specifically do, so why not change the name to reflect what it is that we do

In the "Against" camp there are a lot of members who have a strong feeling of connectivity with the church and consider themselves to be Church bellringers and consider that ringing for services and particularly Sunday services a primary part of what they do and if the other 400 plus people who only ring one or 2 bells want to join the Guild then so what?

The "For" contingency pointed out that if the 400+ non change ringers joined they could outvote the change ringers on certain issues. This has apparently happened in the past with non-peal ringers out voting peal ringers on some peal ringing issues.

Margaret Parker finished the meeting with a request that members give the secretary their up to date e-mail address and keep her informed if it changes.

The meeting was closed and the Raffle and the 100 club were drawn.

The members then proceeded back up the tower for some more ringing which continued until about 9:00pm

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)