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Elloe Deaneries Branch AGM - 2nd February 2013

It was a clear but cold day as I approached Crowland on the A16. I arrived slightly early for the meeting and took the opportunity to warm up in the Abbey.

SS. Mary, Guthlac & Bartholomew, Crowland Abbey

Eventually more people arrived and we did some Rounds & Call Changes on the 6. The long draft at Crowland Abbey can make the bells somewhat challenging.

Ringing at Crowland Abbey
Ringing at Crowland Abbey
At about 4:15pm we stopped ringing and went down the nave for the service, led by the Revd. Jonathan Sibley, who is the incumbent at St. Mary's, Long Sutton and is also the President of the Elloe Deanieries Branch. Ordinarilly the service would be taken by the local incumbent, but the Revd Charles Brown is presently abroad.

It also being the feast of "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" (Candlemas), each member was given a candle for the service. The Revd. Sibley preached a sermon on Candlemas, nicely tying it in with bellringing. During the last hymn we lit our candles and after the hymn we said the Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimmitus). The hymns were all from the Green Service booklet The organ was played by Les Townsend (Cathedral Tower Captain) who played the March from Scipio by Handel after the service. Barbara Webster read the lesson.

The members after the service

After the service, hot soup and a cold buffet was served at the back of the Abbey along with tea & coffee. Before the meeting began in the Nave, two plates were handed round. One of these was a collection for the Belfry Repair Fund and the other was a collection for the cost of the tea.

The meeting was opened by the President, the Revd Jonathan Sibley. The apologies for absence were recorded and then the meeting turned to the obituaries. Two members had passed away in the previous year, these being Sam Smedley from Crowland and Roger Bailey from Holbeach. Short obituaries were read out for each of them after which we stood in silence for a minute as a show of respect.

The minutes of the previous meeting had been circulated previously and were accepted by the members as being a true and accurate record. There were no matters arising. The officers reports were then given.

The Secretary gave her report. It had been a busy and enjoyable year with ringing for the Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic Torch relay and hosting the interbranch 8 bell striking competition at Surfleet. The young ringers practice at Spalding in February had proved to be very successful as was the Fish and Chip supper at Sheddy's afterwards, with some 15 youngster haveing attended. The Bicker Open Tower event in May was also successful with 14 members turning up. Also there was the "Ringing Down the Welland Valley" event about the same time as the Jubilee celebrations. Nationally a total of 47 churches had been involved over 3 diocese and 7 Guild branches. 5 of these churches were in the Elloe Deaneries Branch. The Guild Jubilee Celebrations at Wragby had proved to be a huge success, although it was a pity that the earlier sunny weather had not persisted into the evening. So an indoor BBQ was held in the hall at Wragby with a variety of entertainment. Elloe Deaneries did well in the Guild 6 bell striking competition, coming 3rd in the Plate. The Three Church Ringing around Sutton in October eventually turned out to be 4 church ringing with Tydd, St Mary, being added to Holbeach, Lutton and Sutton St. James. The 8 bell striking competition held at Surfleet in October was less of a success from the Branch's point of view as Elloe was unable to enter a team capable of ringing the set method (Oxford Treble Bob Major). In fact only 4 teams entered out of the six branches, the Northern Branch also struggling to enter a team. Also the open ringing at Surfleet was not as successful as it could have been due to the lack of experienced ringers. This resulted in a lot of Rounds & Call Changes being rung instead of method ringing. So what is on the horizon for 2013. Well Elloe is hosting the Ridgman Trophy at Surfleet but there is no Jubilee this year and no Olympics, so it is up to the members to make a success of ringing events. One thing is clear and that is that events with ringing and food on the agenda seem to be a recipe for success. The other thing happening is the Guild Review and Questionnaire (Guild Master to give more details later). Finally the Secretary thanked all the Elloe ringer for keeping the bells ringing on a Sunday morning. Ringing at 3 towers on a Sunday was not unusual. Also she thanked the members for all their support throughout 2012.

The treasurer have her report. There was not a lot to say on the state of the finances. A comprehensive balance sheet had been circulated previously. Subscriptions are well down, but this is partly due to an administrative error. The Belfry Repair Fund balence has increased very slightly. No requests were made upon the Belfry Repair Fund last year. There are still some small amounts of top end rope and ash for stays available. The Treasurer thanked Sally Clifton for checking the accounts.

The Ringing Master started his report by stating how hard the Secretary (Barbara) has worked over the year as have Pauline and Sally. Barbara's report had been so comprehensive that there was little to add, other than the Sutton St James event had been very successful as was the open ringing at Bicker.

The Branch Representative gave his report. The February Guild Committee meeting was dominated by a number of routine items including the subscription charges for 2012 (unchanged) arangements for ringing for the Jubilee and the Ridgman Trophy. There was an update on safeguarding issues, particularly with a view to having CRBs that covered more than one tower. Also the first draft of the business planning was introduced by the Guild Master, Alan Payne.

At the next meeting the new membership form was issued and was subsequently put on the Guild website. Details of the entry fir the National Youth Competition at Birmingham were finalised and there was planning for a new ringing centre at Stow Minster. The Business plan was further developed and review groups were set up. The Central Council is very concerned about the reduced number of ringers. This is a National concern not limited to just Lincolnshire. The numbers are going down and the average age of ringers is increasing. The Council has questioned the Lincoln Guild as to what they had in mind to handle this.

At the November meeting the Business Plan and the Strategic Review dominated the meeting. In addition to this there was heavy involvement in the Lincolnshire Church Schools Festival at Lincoln Cathedral, where the Sixbel simulator was manned by some 38 members during the course of the week.

The President suggested that there may be a way to tap into the Church Schools Festival to encourage youngsters.

The meeting now turned to the Election of Officers. The main point of interest here is that Roy Norman is standing down as the Branch Representative and also the Fund Raising Representative. This includes his position as leader of the Guild Fundraising Team. Roy has led the Guild Fundraising Team team for 6 years. Two branches did not have any representatives on the Guild Fund Raising last year.They raised £1024 last year, which is down on the previous year. Since 2007 the Fundraising Committee have increased the fund by £ 11000. There were no Christmas cards last year, but Guild badges sold quite well. Roy feels it is time to step aside and let someone else take on the role. He thanked all those who has been involved over the past years.

Other than this the elections went smoothly and all officers were re-elected by the members. The positions of Guild Representative and Fund Raising Representative remain vacant and persons will be co-opted by the committee as required. The list of officers is therefore 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: In Abeyance
Ringing World Correspondence: Sally Clifton
Fund Raising Rep: In Abeyance

At this point, Les Townsend had to leave, so the members thanked him for playing the organ for the service. Two new members were elected to the Guild and afterwards, the Programme for 2013, which had been circulated previously, was discussed. To view the Programme for the year click here.

The meeting now turned to Any Other Business. The Guild Master, (Alan Payne) addressed the members about the Strategic Review There is a lot of concern about the future of the Guild. Numbers are in decline. The Guild Committee have agreed to untertake a review of 5 main areas. Further details are available on the website. This is important! We need to determine what we need to do as a Guild to bring about a sustainable future. A lot of other Associations and Guilds are already working on this. The report has been published and tells about the initial setting up of the review and what the 5 review groups are about. Just as important is the questionnaire. There are about 18 questions, which may seem a lot, but if there are only one or two you feel you can answer then that is fine. Also if somehthing needs to be discussed in confidence you can contact the Guild Master. The questionnaire can be completed as a group in the pub or as a tower. This review is not going to be a little job and it could take 2-3 years. There is likely to be more reports and maybe more questionnaires. The guild is us, the ringers. So tell us what you want it to look like and how should it operate. Please let us know. Good, bad or indifferent please let us know. The deadline is the middle of February.

After the Master's address there was no other business, so the President declared the meeting closed and The Grace was said. Philip Green thanked father Jonathan Sibley for leading the meeting.

Ringing at Crowland Abbey. The sound in the background is the organ playing

Further ringing took place on the bells until about 8:30.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)