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Eastern Branch AGM - 26th January 2013

Ringing in the tower at Sibsey

We arrived quite late at about 11:45am. The roads were still bad and it had taken longer than expected to get over to St. Margaret's Sibsey, from Lincoln. The bells were ringing and we managed to get up the tower and ring some Grandsire Triples as a service touch before the service at 12:00. We then made our way down for the service. The webmaster descended a little bit quicker than intended and was found in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs. No damage done fortunately.

Once we had figured out how to get the organ switched on, the service commenced and was led by the Revd Rosemary E. Taylor, the Priest-in-Charge. Tom Freeston read the lesson about the pomegranates and bells on Aaron's robe. The priest then preached a sermon on the subject, complete with props of pomegranates and bells which Tom Freeston was called upon to hold, the priest having damaged her hand earlier in the year by falling in the snow and ice. The hymns were "O Worship the Lord" & "Joy to the World" from Mission Praise and "Glad Bells" from the green book which was used for the service. The organ was played by Louis Watson from Boston who played the March from Scipio by Handel after the service.

The members assemble for the service
Tom Freeston assists The Revd Taylor with her pomegranates

After the service the members assembled at the back of the church for lunch, which was hot soup and a roll and assorted cold buffet, with desserts of Apple crumble, Apple pie and Trifle afterwards and the inevitable Tea and Coffee.

Tom Freeston opened the meeting with a prayer, remembering those who had passed away in the previous year, including Paul Bennett from Coningsby who had passed away the day before (25th Jan). This was followed by apologies for absence

The minutes of the previous AGM had been circulated already and after a query regarding permission to ring at Bennington the minutes were approved. There were no other matters arising.

The meeting then moved on to the election of new members and then the secretary (Simon Pearson) gave his report. He has now been in the job 1 year having taken over from Julia Limage last year. 2012 had been a year of celebration, with the Jubilee and the Olympic Torch Relay. Even the secretary's knees had appeared on the BBC during some ringing at Boston Stump. There was good progress in helping new starters. There had been some losses however due to people retiring from ringing and also people moving away to university. He hoped that the Guild Master's Review would help to address these problems. Lastly he announced that after many years, Tom Freeston was standing down as both Branch President and the Tower Captain at Boston Stump. The secretary's report was approved by the members.

The Treasurer (Val Wild) gave her report, which had been previously circulated to the members. She thanked Rhoda Reynolds for examining the accounts and also for standing in as Treasurer during her convalescence. Membership levels are virtually static at the moment. The BBQ at Sibsey Trader Mill was the biggest fund raiser of the year. This has been running for 10 years now and in that time has raised £5200. There have been some grants for the bells at Freeston and for new ropes at Butterwick. Ingoldmells has requested a grant for new ropes. The "Race Night" at Alford has raised £225.25. The accounts and the Treasurer's Report were accepted.

The Guild President (Alan Payne) then reported on Guild matters. This largely concerned the Review, and Alan urged the members to fill out the questionnaire that had been circulated, even if people didn't answer all the questions. Also if people wished to collectively (i.e. as a tower) fill out the questionnaire then that also was acceptable. Edward Vear commented that he had found that the only way to get new ringers was to go up to people, even if you didn't know them and ask them if they would like to try ringing. That is how he has recruited most of his band.

There were no issues that needed to be raised by the Maintenance Team, so discussions moved on to Guild fundraising. Phil Ford is intending to repeat the "Race Night" again on the 26th October, possibly at Alford, but this has yet to be confirmed. There will be a Guild Grand Draw again this year and Sandra Underwood (The Guild Secretary) has brought tickets with her.

There being no other grants to be processed the meeting turned to the election of officers. The notable change here is that Tom Freeston is standing down as president. The Vice President (John Collett) took the chair while a new President was elected. The new President will be Edward Vear. Caitlin Meyer will remain as Ringing Master but with extra pressures to deal with will have to rely more heavily on the Assistant Ringing Master Joanne French. Val Wild will remain as Branch Webmaster, but would gladly step aside for someone with more experience in web matters. All other positions remain the same and are as follows.

President: Edward Vear
Vice President: John Collett
Secretary: Simon Pearson
Treasurer: Val Wild
Inspector of accounts: Rhoda Reynolds
Ringing Master: Caitlin Meyer
Asst Ringing Master: Joanne French
Maintenance Team Leader: Mick Smith
Branch Safeguarding Officer: Edward Vear
Branch Webmaster: Val Wild
Guild Fundraising: Phil Ford
Guild Committee Rep: Mick Smith

The Programme for 2013 was outlined. All venues are confirmed apart from Burgh-le-Marsh, Alford and the AGM at Friskney. Ian Ansel is organising another outing this year on the 5th October and it was commented that his outing from last year would be a hard act to follow. The Vice President pointed out that the date for Evensong ringing at Lincoln Cathedral was not in the Programme. The Guild Secretary confirmed that the date was the 4th August. The programme for 2013 can be viewed here.

The meeting turned to Any Other Business. The passing of Paul Bennett was again mentioned and how much he would be missed. Mick Smith asked if John Norman could be made an Honorary Life Member. He had move from Coningsby to Norfolk and had transferred under Guild Rule 2c.

Val Wild made a presentation to Tom Freeston for his years as President. He received a silver blotter from the branch. Tom thanked the branch for their support over the years. The raffle was drawn and raised £50.50. There was then a vote of thanks to the ladies who had provided lunch, the Revd Taylor for taking the service and Louis Watson for playing the organ.

The meeting was then closed. There were opportunities for further ringing afterwards, but we had to make our apologies and make our way to Grimsby for the Northern Branch AGM.

A very enjoyable afternoon. It was a pity we couldn't stay longer.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)