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Northern Branch AGM, 26th January 2013

We arrived rather late at St. James, Grimsby having driven up from Sibsey after the Eastern Branch AGM. We arrived at about 16:00 and expected that the service might still have been in progress, but we found that it was already over, mainly because it had been conducted without any hymns.

Tea was served at the back of the church and consisted of a cold buffet and assorted desserts, plus tea and coffee. Once tea was over the Branch Officers set up a table in the Nave of the church to conduct the meeting.

The President (Linda Bromfield) opened the meeting with a prayer. She then welcomed the members and also visitors from neighbouring branches. She thanked the Revd Jan Vasey, the Assistant Curate for taking the service.

After the Apologies for Absence had been taken the meeting moved on to remembering those members who had passed away in the last year. There was only one, this being Michael Scott. The members stood while a prayer was said for Michael.

The Minutes of the Last AGM had been circulated previously and other than a small query on Guild Fundraising, there were no matters arising. The minutes were therefore approved as a true and accurate record.

The Ringing Master (Matthew Jeffery) stood to give his report. Matthew thanked those towers who had hosted the various Branch events over the last year. However not enough people are turning up. The Laceby practice had been particularly disappointing. On a more positive note the 6 bell striking competition had been a tremendous success, with the Northern Branch entering 4 teams. This was made even better by the Northern Branch winning the Ted Colley Plate, which is very appropriate, Ted Colley having been an active member for the Northern Branch for many years. The 8 bell inter-branch striking competition however was not a success and the Northern Branch did not enter a team because it was difficult to find enough ringers to ring the test piece (Oxford Treble Bob Major). Matthew thanked Andrew Lord (the Deputy Ringing Master) for all his help over the past year especially the organising of the outing. The August Evensong ringing at Lincoln Cathedral had proved to be very fruitful allowing members to get some familiarity with ringing on 12 bells. There had been a lot of ringing for the Jubilee and the Olympic Torch Relay. The Hewitt shield was this year presented to All Saints, Goxhill. Finally Matthew thanked the members for their support over the past few months as life had been pretty hectic with the arrival of a new baby.

The meeting in progress

The Treasurer (Roger Lord) gave his report. The membership for 2012 has been 116 members, with 8 new members elected and a loss of 5 members for various reasons. Some members have asked if it is possible to pay their Guild subscriptions by Direct Debit. Roger said that certainly a Standing Order would be viable and any members wishing to make use of such a facility should see him afterwards. There is a new Membership Form plus an Update form available to make it easy for the Guild to manage issues like covenanting and other issues with the Charity Commission. He thanked David Hibbert for auditing the accounts, which were subsequently adopted by the members.

The Guild Committee Branch Rep. (Joy Lord) gave her report. She attends 3 meetings a year of the Guild Committee which discusses wider ranging issues that have an impact on all the branches. Safeguarding of children remains a very heavily discussed issue, particularly the use of CRB forms. The Guild Committee are in continuous liaison with Simon Payne who is the Child Protection and Vulnerable Adults Adviser for the Diocese. There is a move towards having CRBs that are applicable to more than one tower. There were no Christmas cards or Guild quiz this year, but there was a Grand Draw. The subscription charges and peal fees are to remain the same in 2013. The new Membership and Update forms are available on the web and should be used by the members. Publicity of the Guild is being handled by both the website and the newsletter that is produced by Sue Faull. This includes records of the Jubilee and Olympic Torch ringing which on the website under the News2012 page. The National Youth Competition in Birmingham was a success and was well supported and our team did very well. This year it will be held in York on the 6th July. Lincolnshire are hosting the Ridgeman Trophy this year at Surfleet. The format of the Guild AGM in April will be the same as in previous years with one small change. The hire of the Bailgate Methodist Church Hall will be taken out of Guild funds and not out of the cost of the lunch. Afternoon ringing will be at Stow and Saxilby. The 6 bell striking competition went very well, but the 8 bell inter-branch was less successful. The Southern Branch are hosting the 6 bell competition this year and the West Lindsey Branch are hosting the 8 bell.

The meeting now turned to correspondence received. Two pieces of correspondence had been received, both on the same subject, involving an incident that had taken place. This was a difficult subject handled extremely well by the President. It would be inappropriate to comment further, other than to say that it is unlikely that there will be any further occurrences and members concerns have been at least partly assuaged.

The meeting then moved on to the Election of Officers. Matthew Jeffery no longer wished to continue as Ringing Master. Andrew Lord has therefore been elected the new Ringing Master. Andrew was formally the Deputy Ringing Master and thanked Matthew Jeffery for his help and guidance over the years he has held this position. No one could be found to take the post of Deputy Ringing Master. The President pointed out that not all branches have a Deputy Ringing Master and therefore the appointment of a Deputy Ringing Master will be held in abeyance until a suitable candidate can be found. The list of officers therefore stands as follows.

President: Linda Bromfield
Ringing Master: Andrew Lord
Asst. Ringing Master: In Abeyance
Secretary: Lorraine Jeffery
Treasurer: Roger Lord
Newsletter Editor: Joy Lord
Guild Committee Rep: Joy Lord
Accounts Examiner: David Hibbert
Committee Members: Charles Kay, Neil Mangan & Colin Disney

The meeting now turned to new members. 4 new members have been proposed. The Secretary reminded members that Membership forms are required. There was no report to be made on the Bell repair fund, so the forthcoming events were discussed. The Programme of Events for the coming year can be found here

Jenny Bennett then addressed the members in her capacity as a member of one of the working groups of the Guild Review. Both Andrew and Jenny Bennett are on the Guild and Branch Organisation team, headed by Alistair Donaldson. Membership is falling and the average age of Guild membership is increasing, currently at about 55 year old. There is an opportunity here to start from scratch. It's going to take time, perhaps 2 to 3 years. Changes will need approving by the Guild committee and some may require ratification by the members at the AGM. Jenny urged members to fill in the questionnaire. Suggestions can be as radical as you like. The questionnaire is on the website, but paper forms are available for those without internet access. The Guild Secretary (Sandra Underwood) pointed out that there are a lot of questions, so fill in what you can. If you just want to fill in 1 or 2 questions that's fine. The Guild Webmaster (Jonathan Clark) also pointed out that the questionnaire can be filled in collectively (i.e. on behalf of a tower). Just as long as the Guild get some sort of feedback.

The raffle was then drawn and members began to drift away before the President, with very effective use of her gavel, pointed out that the meeting was not yet concluded. The Grace was said after which the President declared the meeting ended.

There being no evening ringing, the members made their way home.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)