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Eastern Branch AGM, 30rd January 2016

St. Mary's, Horncastle

We arrived at about 11:15 in Horncastle and the bells were ringing. We found somewhere to park the car and made our way over to the church. After having attempted to enter the tower from inside the church, we were directed to the outside door round the back of the tower.

We were greeted by a tower full of people, about 45 or so. It was therefore a bit cosy. We rang some St. Clement's Bob Minor plus Plain Bob, Grandsire and lots of rounds and call changes.

Ringing at St. Mary's
Ringing at St. Mary's

At 12:00 the ringing stopped and we went down into the church for the service, led by the Revd. Charles Patrick. The service used the green Guild Office booklet, but with some of the hymns taken from the local hymnbook instead. The reading was taken from Luke's Gospel, chapter 2, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, read by Edward Vear. The Rector preached a sermon based on the reading interspersed with some references to bellringing.

Assembling for the Service

The church gives us many occasions to ring the bells, Christmas, Easter and Patronal Festivals. There was a Confirmation Service last week at St. Mary's, led by the Bishop of Lincoln and attended by the new Bishop of Grantham and the bells were ringing out for the occasion. Tomorrow is the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and hence the reading today. Here we meet Simeon and hear the Nunc Dimittis. The festival gives us a last look back at the birth of Christ and points us forwards to the uncertainty of Lent and Easter. Times are uncertain in the world, what with current international affairs. There is uncertainty in bellringing too as it competes with people's interest in other activities. Sometimes we worry if were making too much noise. However the Lord is always with us as we travel the uncertain road ahead with the promise of victory over all life's ills. There is much to rejoice about.

We sang hymns "Be Thou My Vision" and "Give me Oil in my Lamp" as well as the set bellringers hymn "Oh God Who Madest Time and Space". The organ was played by Louis Watson from Boston, who played The March from Scipio by Handel after the service.

After the service we moved over to the Bull for Lunch, which was Steak and Ale Pie with Sausage Mash followed by either Apple Crumble and Custard or Chocolate Fudge Cake. This had been pre-booked at the pub some weeks in advance.

The Webmaster wears a silly hat!

We then moved over to the upstairs meeting room for the actual meeting. Edward Vear welcomed the members after which the apologies for absence were taken.

Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes of the last meeting had been circulated and were accepted as a true record.

Matters Arising


The members assemble for the meeting

Election of New Members

3 new members were elected from Trusthorpe, one from Coningsby, one from Tattershall and Lynda Patrick, tower unknown.

Secretary's Report

The secretary (Simon Pearson) was not present due to having to travel out to Japan. He is also standing down as secretary. He had however prepared a report. He will look upon 2015 as a year of handing on the "baton". Two key members have moved out of the area these being the Vice President John Collett and Aubrey Pepper. They have both made significant contributions to the branch over the years and they will be missed. 2015 was marked by many enjoyable events especially the outing, barbeque and the quarter peal week. Simon finished by wishing the members well.

The Secretary's Report was accepted by the members.

Treasurer's report

Val Wild gave her report. The balance looks healthy. Membership remains fairly static with 56 adult members and 11 junior members. The Sibsey Trader Mill fundraiser raised £689 for the branch BRF and just over £247 was collected at meetings. The race night at Surfleet raised £358.80 for the Guild BRF. Also £125 worth of calendars and £62 of Christmas cards had been sold also in aid of the Guild BRF. A grant request from Alford for £360 has been paid. More requests are likely. Also thanks to Rhoda Reynolds for inspecting the accounts.

Guild Matters

Alan Payne (the Guild Master) was coerced into addressing the members. The beginning of last year had been the closing stages of the rule amendments, especially changes to the Guild BRF rules. They were agreed at the AGM in April 2015. The Guild has nominated a Safeguarding Officer (Joy Lord of the Northern Branch) to be ratified at the 2016 AGM. Alan wants to leave this phase of rule changes behind now and concentrate on training and recruitment. As a result this year 10% (£1) of the subscriptions will be paid into a training fund. As of last year £3.50 was paid into the BRF. Now only £2.50 will be paid into the Guild BRF and the remaining £1 goes into the training fund. There is some concern about reducing the BRF contribution. However in general our towers are in good condition and little work is anticipated. However what we don't have is people to ring the bells. We are losing numbers all the time, so we are focusing on recruitment and training. A lack of good training is a key factor in not retaining learners. It will be at the tower level where the real successes will take place.

From left to right, Val Wild (Treasurer)
Edward Vear (President) & Helen Brotherton (Secretary)

Maintenance Team Report

Tony Barker reported that no requests for maintenance had been received. The tenor at Fishtoft is still out of action pending a faculty from the Diocese.


Phil Ford re-stated how well the race night had gone at Surfleet, raising nearly £360. We will probably go to Alford this year. The only issue is what sort of event to have. There has been a race night for the past two years. However it does seem popular. Someone suggested a barn dance and another pointed out that there could be more than one event in the year.

Grants, Repairs and Rehangs

Alford have just had 6 new ropes. It was agreed at the meeting that the Branch will pay for one of them.

Election of Officers

John Collett has moved away so the position of Vice President is vacant. Mick Smith suggested that the position be abolished and this was agreed. The secretary (Simon Pearson) has stood down. Helen Brotherton has been standing in at the AGM to take the minutes and it was proposed that she take up the post which she is willing to do. She was duly elected. Mick Smith made a heroic effort at standing down as the Ringing Master, but was ultimately thwarted so has agreed to do it for another year. The list of officers is therefore as follows

President: Edward Vear
Vice President: Position Removed
Secretary: Helen Brotherton
Treasurer: Val Wild
Inspector of accounts: Rhoda Reynolds
Ringing Master: Michael Smith
Asst Ringing Master: Joanne French
Maintenance Team Leader: Tony Barker
Branch Safeguarding Officer: Edward Vear
Branch Webmaster: Tess Rowland
Guild Fundraising: Phil Ford

Programme of Events

Unfortunately I had to leave just as this item was starting. However there is a list of the events on the Eastern Branch website and can be found here

I have two observations

  1. The meeting had already exceeded (but not by much) the 40 minute benchmark set by the Southern Branch, so Southern Branch, your record still stands for the shortest meeting. Come on Elloe!!
  2. The Eastern branch has just under 70 members. Not the largest branch by any means. However looking at the attendance, I would say that most of those 67 members were at the meeting and that I think bodes well for the Eastern Branch

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)