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Elloe Deaneries Branch AGM - 4th February 2012

It was another lovely afternoon, although chilly, when I arrived at All Saints, Holbeach. It was about 3:30pm and on entering the church I found several ringers already assembled in the Mary Bass Room under the tower, so we proceeded up to the platform above the room to ring the bells up. After dealing with a troublesome bell that had gone up wrong, there was ringing on the 8, ranging from Rounds and Call Changes to Plain Bob Major and Grandsire Triples.
Ringing at All Saint's Holbeach

At about 4:30pm we stopped ringing and went down into the church for the service, led by the Revd. David Sweeting. We were accompanied on the organ by Mr. Peter Graper.

After the service a cold buffet and hot tea & coffee was served in the Mary Bass Room, after which the meeting got underway

The Lay Chairman, Philip Green started the proceedings with a big thank you to the ladies who made the tea, the Vicar for taking the service and the organist. He then welcomed Revd. Jon Sibley the President and also Revd. Richard Morrison, who is one of several Vice Presidents of the Elloe Deaneries Branch.

A view down the church from the ringing platform
The members enjoy tea in the Mary Bass Room

Revd. Jon Sibley opened the meeting with a prayer, after which the apologies for absence were taken. The minutes of previous AGM had been circulated previously and were accepted by the members. There were no matters arising, although it was noted that two branch officers were omitted from the 2005 minutes and the archive of library books held by the branch would be updated in 2012.

The Secretary (Barbara Webster) gave her report. There had been no Guild events hosted by Elloe this year, but the 4 branch events had all been well attended. For the 2012 Jubilee, towers were asked to organise events. The branch is already involved in a Jubilee event, "Ringing down the Welland Valley". The open ringing and hot lunch event at Surfleet last year had been particularly popular and volunteers were requested to host a similar event this year. Finally Barbara thanked all the Elloe Deaneries ringers for making sure bells are rung at towers throughout the year and for the support given to the Secretary.

The Treasurer's report had also been circulated previously. There were no matters arising. Ros Knight noted that membership has remained fairly static and that they have ended with slightly more money than they started the year with. There have been no calls upon the belfry repair fund. The accounts were accepted and Sally Clifton was thanked for checking them.

The Ringing Master, John Pratt gave his report. Things were largely the same. They have lost a few practices this year and there is one place where practices are less frequent. The Surfleet event was well supported. The next branch event is a new event aimed at learners at Spalding and involves a Fish and Chip supper at Sheddy's Fish and Chip shop, which is owned and managed by one of the branch members. The Ringing Master announced he was standing down this year.

The Guild Committee Representative, Roy Norman, reported on the proceedings of the last Guild committee meeting. He then swapped hats and reported on the Guild fundraising. Some £2243 has been raised throughout the Guild in 2011 which is £540 more than the previous year. The AGM grand draw and the sale of Christmas cards has been very successful. New ideas and suggestions were welcomed. The Guild clothing also raised money and is advertised on web. It is encouraging that there is still a will and enthusiasm to support this work.

Matters arising from Roy's report were

The meeting turned to the election of officers. This was largely unchanged, apart from the fact that both the Ringing Master (John Pratt) and the Lay Chairman (Philip Green) were standing down. However it soon became obvious that the reason they were standing down was so they could effectively swap positions. The new list of officers is as follows:

President: Revd. Jonathan Sibley
Vice Presidents: See Below
Lay Chairman: John Pratt
Ringing Master: Philip Green
Secretary: Barbara Webster
Treasurer: Ros Knight
Account Checker: Sally Clifton
Branch Rep: Roy Norman
Ringing World Correspondence: Sally Clifton
Fund Raising Rep: Roy Norman

Vice Presidents - It is interesting to note that Elloe Deaneries invite the incumbents of their churches all to be Vice Presidents and they usually get one or two of them at every meeting. The list stands at 12 at present with two more to be hopefully added this year.

The Revd. Jonathan Sibley thanked the committee for the work that they do.

One new member was elected, this being a Junior member. The programme of events was circulated and accepted. Elloe Deaneries are hosting the Guild 8 bell this year at Surfleet and it would be nice if Elloe could enter a team. The Branch committee will sort out the details for the 2013 branch AGM which will be on the 2nd February.

Any Other Business - Roy Willingham asked how do we get more young people interested in ringing? This is a problem throughout the guild. Alan Payne (Guild Master) addressed the members. The guild is holding its own, but it is down from where it was 4-5 years ago. The ITTS scheme is an excellent scheme to subscribe to as it gives good training on how to teach ringing. Numbers are generally down; the average age of a ringer is 55. We need to make significant changes to the way we do things to bring people in. There are plenty of good things going on, but we will still need to make changes. Retention is the key and there is no short answer, there is no panacea! Like all these things, it requires a lot of work at the local level. Alan is trying to do work through the schools. It is much more difficult now, what with Health and Safety, CRB certification, etc, but it is possible. One of the more successful events is the Schools Church Festival. The Sixbel simulator was set up in the Cathedral and 200 children were involved. The simulators have also been taken into schools and churches. There is a portable mini ring in the Elloe Deaneries that is available.

The ringing platform above the Mary Bass room

The meeting closed with a prayer and there was some further ringing on the bells until about 8:00pm. It had been a lovely afternoon when I arrived. We now had a good layer of snow which made the journey home rather slow although thankfully reasonably uneventful.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)