Sitemap info

Central Branch AGM, 9th January 2016

St. Deny's, Sleaford

I was chauffeur driven to Sleaford for the Central Branch AGM. We managed to find a parking space on the north side of the church and made our way up to the ringing room.

Sleaford originally were a ground floor ring and quite a long draft. I remember ringing a peal on these bells back when they were a ground floor ring. They were not the easiest of bells to say the least.

In the Ringing Room

However they are now an upstairs ring and all the better for it. We found a very pleasant ring of 8 with Richard Spencer (Branch Ringing Master) looking after the ringing. We rang a variety of methods from Plain Hunt through Grandsire and Stedman and Bob Triples, to Little Bob, Cambridge and Yorkshire Surprise.

View down into the Church

Just before 4:30pm we went down into the church. We all crammed into the Choir for the service, which was led by the Reverend Philip Johnson. We followed the form of service laid down in the Ringers Guild Office with hymns from the green booklet. The organ was played by David Prescott and local ringer Dawn Howells read the lesson, which was 2 Chronicles 5 verses 1 to 5 and 10 to 14. The Reverend Johnson preached a sermon on this reading.

View back up to the Ringing Chamber
from the Church
Assembling for the service

From verse 12 "All the Levites who were musicians - Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives - stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets." He saw the cymbals in this passage as a sort of prototype bell and thought it was very significant that the musicians were named, but not the priests. Bellringers contribute significantly to the life of the church. The bells can be heard all across the town signalling that "something significant is happening" in the church.

Tea and Coffee prior to the meal

After the service, we went next door to the Parish Rooms, for tea. This was Fish and Chips (or Sausage and Chips), pre ordered from the local chippy. There was plenty of bread and butter and cups of tea and coffee not to mention mushy peas. Those members not wishing Fish and Chips were catered for with cold meat salads. There was a choice of plum or apple crumble with either cream or custard for dessert.

Once everyone had eaten, the meeting was opened by Margaret Parker. She thanked the vicar and organist and then apologies for absence were received. After this the secretary (Fiona Dawson) gave her report.

Secretary's Report

It had been an exciting year with the bells at North Scarle becoming ringable again and the new ring of bells at Carlton-le-Moorland (they have been augmented from a 3 to a 4). Also the bells at Aubourne have been restored and are now ringable. The Central Branch had been able to enter 2 teams in the 8 bell striking competition and had supported 2 youngsters who has competed in the National Youth Striking Competition in Oxford. Also the Wombel had been used to good effect at Leadenham. It would be nice to see more members at meetings. She concluded the report by thanking her fellow officers and members for their support over the last year.

From left to right: Fiona Dawson (Secretary)
Margaret Parker (Chairman) & Richard Spencer (Ringing Master)

Treasurer's Report

Dot Mason gave her treasurer's report. The bank balance looks reasonably healthy. The Bell Repair Fund has decreased somewhat, with grants totalling £2150 last year to Blankney, Carlton-le-Moorland and North Scarle. Adult membership is down from 130 members to 121. However the junior membership has increased from 9 to 11.

Election of Officers

It was pretty much business as usual, with all officers being re-elected. The only change is that Susan Waterfall has come off the Branch Committee. Claire Howard of Washingborough tower was elected in her place.

The list of Branch Officers is as follows

President: Margaret Parker
Treasurer: Dot Mason
Secretary: Fiona Dawson
Ringing Master: Richard Spencer
Safeguarding Officer: Jonathan Clark
Guild Fund Raising Rep: Christine Jackson
Guild Committee Rep: By Proxy (see above)
Committee members: Jean Kay, John Nicholson, Claire Howard & Mick Stracey
Account Examiners: Alan Haines & Geoff Wilkinson (to be co-opted)

Election of new members

There were about half a dozen new members elected and a couple of transfers from other towers.

The Ringing Master Richard Spencer gave his report

Ringing Master's Report

There was no striking competition last year, but that will change this year. Last year the Rabbits was held at Bardney which presented something of a challenge due to the bells being particularly loud. The quiz and the sausage contest was popular. July saw a joint meeting with the Southern Branch at Claypole and Hough-on-the-Hill. It was not particularly well attended by either branch. The Cathedral Evensong ringing was well attended. He thanked Mick and Betty for their efforts in organising the Quiz night and the Carol Service. He then presented the programme for next year.

The meeting in progress

There were some comments that the half hour ringing before the Carol Service was too short and it needed to be longer. We are bellringers after all and it's what we do. Richard said that past experience had revealed that there was a lack of enthusiasm for ringing at such events as the Quiz and the Carol Service. It was suggested that there should be more ringing on 8 bells in the programme. However there are only eight 8 bell towers in the branch and some of those have restricted ringing. The programme for 2016 does feature four 8 bell towers. Jim Sutherland expressed some disappointment that the Wragby 8 bell simulator was not getting used, especially after the work done on it by John Nicolson to get it working properly. Most of the ringers at Wragby are too elderly to get up to the bells to put the clapper ties on.

The local (Central Branch) rules for 6 bell striking competitions were published. This is a new Competition for all towers and ringers within the Central Branch of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild. Entry into this competition does not preclude towers from entering the Guild Six Bell Competition.


  1. The Competition is open to all towers and ringers within the Central Branch of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild.
  2. A tower may enter as many teams as it likes, but each team should have at least two thirds of the band who are members of the Central Branch. Towers are requested to notify the Branch Secretary that they are entering the competition together with the number of teams at least two weeks before the date of the competition.
  3. No one shall ring for more than one team. In the interests of fair play, any violation of this rule will result in both teams being eliminated.
  4. The contest shall be on six bells with each team ringing a minimum of 240 changes of either
    • Rounds and Call Changes
    • A Doubles Method
    • A Minor Method
  5. A practice time of three minutes shall be permitted in order for the band to acclimatise to the bells. The bells will then be stood and the Treble rung for a few strokes as a signal to the judge that the band are about to start their competition piece.
  6. A timekeeper may be present to help with timing
  7. The judge's decision is final.

Guild Committee

The secretary reported on the Guild Committee meetings. There are no longer specific Guild Committee representatives. Rather the Branch Secretary (or another nominated individual) will represent the local Branch Committee at Guild Committee meetings. There are the usual Guild events taking place, such as the AGM and the 6 and 8 bell striking competitions. Also it is hoped to have a young ringers event in July. Joy Lord (of the Northern Branch) is now the Guild Safeguarding Officer.

Any Other Business

Jim Sutherland raised 2 points. One was to extol the members to read last week's Ringing World and the other was that since we had not said "Grace" prior to the meal, perhaps the Vicar could do it after the event.

Alan Bird raised concerns about the administration of the Belfry Repair Fund. Several attempts to secure some funds from the BRF for work at Sleaford had not been successful. However Alan Payne pointed out that work had to have a faculty in order to secure funds and no faculty had been obtained. The BRF is a charity and had to work within the rules. This particular issue occupied a substantial part of Any Other Business.

John Ketteringham's Funeral is on the 18th January, at St. Giles, Lincoln at 10:15, with open ringing before and after.

A single copy of the Central Branch newsletter will be sent to every tower with an active band. If individuals want their own copy the cost will be £2 per year.

Alan Payne explained that the Central Council wanted to conduct another survey. Apparently everyone in bellringing circles is struggling to know what to do to keep the exercise going. The Central Council are expecting the individual Guilds to send them their member e-mail list so they can canvass bellringers nationally. Alan assured the members that the e-mail addresses would not be released to the Central Council. There is a general feeling that everyone has had enough of surveys and it's time for some action. The Guild's stance is that they will not support the survey. However if individual members wish to partake in the survey then that is their prerogative.

Also the Ringing World as a publication is in dire straits. There is yet another survey to determine what the members want from the Ringing World as a publication. There is an online survey on the Ringing World website and also accessible from BellBoard.

The raffle was drawn, the author winning 4 candles!

The vicar (Reverend Philip Johnson) said a post meeting "Grace"

The meeting concluded at 8:00pm and we made our way home.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)