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Southern Branch AGM, 23rd January 2016


St. Wulfrum's, Grantham

I arrived early at St. Wulfram's in Grantham and spent a few minutes wandering about the exterior of the building before I heard what sounded like the front 7 of the light 8 being rung up in peal.

I made my way in and up to the ringing chamber where work was starting on raising the back 4. I should have taken it a bit slower up the tower, because I got the job of raising the 11th.

Once the bells were up we rang rounds on 12 followed by some Grandsire Cinques. There was further ringing including lots of rounds and call changes before finishing with a service touch of splice Plain Bob and Little Bob Maximus.

Inside the Ringing Chamber

We made our way down into the church to St. Michael's Chapel in the North Aisle. The service was led by the highly appropriately named Revd Jacqueline Bell who is one of the curates at St. Wulfrum's. She assured the congregation that despite her name she was not well versed in the art of bellringing. She opened with an observation that for bellringers, ringing is their gift to God and to the church. The order of service was on a pre-printed sheet and the first hymn was "He who would Valiant Be". There was then a reading read by Brian Buttery, followed by an address.

The members assemble in St. Michael's Chapel

Jacqueline started by listing a few facts about Lincolnshire towers. St Botolph's Church, Boston (aka Boston Stump) is the highest un-spired church in the UK with a ring of bells and St. James, Louth is the highest spired church with a ring of bells. Jacqueline went on to preach a sermon based about London's Bow bells and Dick Whittington (the initial letters of the inscriptions on each of the Bow bells in order spells out "D WHITTINGTON"). She finished by saying that "we are all a gift to this church and every church, a gift to God indeed" We sang the Bellringers hymn "Unchanging God" to the usual tune and after some prayers we finished with "Immortal Invisible" and a blessing. The organ was played by local St. Wulfram's ringer David Braunton.

We made our way over to the church hall, which is apparently due to be demolished. It is a pre-fabricated building and I learnt that the land was being sold back to the adjacent school and a new church hall was to be built attached to the church. Tea was a choice of a beef casserole or a chicken & vegetable casserole or vegetable casserole, all served with lots of crusty french bread and butter. There was the usual tea and coffee and a vast array of cakes and other puddings for dessert.

The members enjoy tea in the church hall

Once we had eaten, Judith Rogers brought the meeting quickly to order at 6:05 promptly. She started by welcoming everyone, especially the visitors from other branches and thanked the committee for their support. She especially thanked Nigel Travis who is standing down as safeguarding officer and also Shelagh Dunning who is standing down as Assistant Ringing Master. She then gave a brief report. It was intended to vary the meeting schedule and arrangements over the next year to best accommodate the members. No nominations had been received for officers. Subscriptions are now due. The Beetle Drive was very successful and raised quite a bit of money. The branch website has developed over the last year. It is the place to go to for Southern Branch events. The Southern Branch entered 2 teams in the Guild 8 bell. The 6 bell was a different format last year. There were 5 teams competing for the Ted Colley Plate, but no Southern Branch team. Bourne entered a team in the Cup competition and came 3rd. The Ringing World is doing another survey. The Ringing World is in dire straits.

The secretary (Melissa Blanchard) then took note of any apologies for absence. There were no obituaries.

Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes of the last meeting at Stamford had been previously circulated. It was observed by several members that the names of the 2 vicars had been swapped round at the end. Once this correction has been made the minutes were accepted as a true record. There were no matters arising.

Treasurer's Report

Alison Jones commented on her report. The figures had been published previously. Membership had remained fairly static with 112 Adult members and 16 Junior members. Subs are now due at the end of March. The branch sponsored 8 young members to ring in the Ringing World National Youth Contest in Oxford last year. The raffle boosted the BRF funds as did a donation from the funeral of Mrs. Norris. The Beetle Drive raised £229.40. Barrowby have requested £225 from the BRF. The BRF stands at £1831. Subscriptions remain the same at £10 for adults and £3 for junior members.

Election of Officers

The branch committee has adopted the 3 year rotation of officers. As a result the post of Assistant Ringing Master is now vacant. There were no volunteers for the position, so it was agreed by the members that it would be left to the committee to appoint someone. Alison Jones has agreed to take on the role of Safeguarding Office, presumably in addition to her role as Treasurer. The list of officers therefore stands as follows:

Chairman: Judith Rogers
Ringing Master: Barry Jones
Assistant Ringing Master: Post currently vacant
Secretary: Melissa Blanchard
Treasurer: Alison Jones
Branch Safeguarding Rep: Alison Jones
Branch Website Administrator: Nick Faux
Honorary Accounts Inspector: James Benner
PR Officer: Post currently vacant
Guild Fund Raising Rep: Post currently vacant

Election of New Members

There was one new member proposed from Barrowby. However there have been a few members elected at Branch practices over the year and these were ratified at the meeting. There had been one member each from Grantham, Market Deeping, Thurlby? and an unattached member.

Firsts

There were no first Peals/Quarter Peals reported.

From left to right: Barry Jones (Ringing Master),
Alison Jones (Treasurer), Melissa Blanchard (Secretary) & Judith Rogers (Chairman)

Programme for 2016

A suggested programme of events has been produced, which can be viewed here. All towers are confirmed. Judith exhorted the members to attend the meetings.

Guild Report

The Guild Report was passed around amongst the members so that any details could be updated.

BRF applications

There is the request for a grant to Barrowby as mentioned earlier. There have been delays at Barrowby due to Taylors. The work is due to start on the 7th March and the bells will be out of action for 3 to 4 weeks. Braceborough have requested a grant for quite a substantial amount of work on the tower. However, only a very small proportion of this work falls within the requirements for BRF funding. This was mainly to do with painting the frame, although the wheels also require some attention. The rest is building work and cleaning out pigeon droppings, which are not covered. As a gesture of goodwill, it was suggested that a grant of 7.5% of the cost of painting the frame be considered, although there is a fear that this might set a precedent. However the bells are silent and work is needed and they should receive some support. Alan Payne suggested giving a nominal donation, rather than a percentage. Then it doesn't set a precedent.

Ringing World National Youth Contest

There were 19 teams last year in Oxford. It made for a long (if enjoyable) day but also a rather long day for the judges. The rules may change this year to ease the situation. This year the contest is returning to London. It is intended to put a team in and the branch will support the youngsters taking part again this year.

Any Other Business

There wasn't any!

Vote of Thanks

Kate Riley gave a vote of thanks to all those who had helped make the day so successful. Particular mentions went to the Revd Jacqueline Bell, for taking the service, David David Braunton for playing the organ and helping with the local arrangements and Diane and Shaun Power for the ringerís tea.

The meeting closed and beat the current West Lindsey record for the shortest meeting by being only 40 minutes long!

The raffle was drawn and raised £57.

St. Wulfram's at night!

There was further ringing afterwards, but I had an early start the following day and so decided to make my way home.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)