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Elloe Deaneries Branch AGM, 6th February 2016

St. Laurence’s, Surfleet

We arrived early at Surfleet for the Elloe Deaneries Branch AGM. As we walked towards the church, the back 8 bells were just being rung up in peal. Once inside the church we got the front 4 bells up and then when a few more people had arrived we did some rounds and call changes on the 12.

Ringing in progress
Members waiting to ring

Other ringing included Cambridge Royal, which crashed out just after the first lead. This happened again, until on the third attempt it was identified that one of our number was in fact ringing Yorkshire Royal. After a quick bit of re-calibration, we went on to successfully complete half a course. A bob course of Grandsire Cinques was not quite so successful.

Les Townsend warms up the instrument

Les Townsend arrived and acquainted himself with the organ and eventually we settled down for the service, which was led by the Revd David Sweeting. The lesson was read by Barbara Webster, who read from Matthew's Gospel. The Rector then preached a sermon on change.

The members assemble for the service

We all quite often suffer from "future shock" due to all the change that happens. It is not unusual now for youngsters to be facing 6 different careers in one lifetime. Some retreat into the church, where things are not meant to change, but this is in fact not true. Cardinal John Henry Newman said "To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often". Authentic faith means being caught up in the life of God, whose Kingdom has at its centre teaming change.

Bellringing is a tradition, but the work of living ringers. For humans, change and renewal are vital to life. Bellringers have experienced change. Indeed the Victorian reformers put a lot of effort into curbing the unruliness of bellringers at that time. Ringing matters to people, even those who do not come to church. "I don't go to church, but I like to hear the bells" is an often heard statement. Ringing makes people feel safe. German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz said "Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting". Ringing is also mathematical. Ringing gives us the opportunity to connect to the logic, pattern and heart of things. Ringing takes us into the heart of things that are changing. Also ringing requires extraordinary unity. It is a model of what the church should be. It is more than the sum of the parts. The Rector finished by thanking the ringers for what they do.

Annette Rhodes led the intercessions and after the final blessing, Les Townsend played the Trumpet Voluntary by John Bennett. We then went into the Fraiser Rooms next to the church for tea. The Revd Sibley said Grace after which we tucked into a cold buffet with assorted cakes for dessert and the usual tea and coffee. The 100 club was drawn, and also the raffle was drawn, which raised £65. Once everyone had eaten, the meeting began.

Tea is served in the Fraiser Rooms

The Revd Sibley thanked the ladies for their work in providing the tea. He also commented on how good it was to see some young faces. There was a short silence in memory of those members who had passed away during the last year. Philip then thanked the Revd Sibley for taking the service and also thanked Les Townsend for playing the organ. After the apologies for absence, there was a short tribute to Philip Green who is stepping down as Ringing Master. Philip first became a member of the Guild in 1985 and became a Branch committee member in 1988 and since then has held many posts. Barbara Webster presented Philip with a token of appreciation from the Branch.

Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes had been circulated previously and were accepted as a true record.

Matters Arising

Some members had been elected at tower elections and ratified at the AGM, but not included in the Annual Report. This will be corrected this year.

Secretary's Report

Barbara gave her 6th Secretary's report. She has been very busy, not just at the Branch level but also with changes at the Guild level. Several members have passed away in the last year, including the Vice President. Not all events had worked out as planned. Some had to be cancelled or go ahead with low numbers. This is not a new problem. There have been 3 requests made on the BRF fund and also from the Guild BRF fund, which it was pointed out are not the same fund. 2 of the 3 churches have been paid the money and the all clear has been received to pay the last church. There are some rule changes (to follow later) concerning the Branch BRF. Membership is up so perhaps there can be a New Year's resolution to enter a team in the striking competitions. Adult membership has seen a 10% increase, but junior membership remains low at 4 person. Nearly all the membership details are complete now, with just a few members’ details remaining to be documented. Less money has been raised for the BRF this year partly due to some of the events not being as well attended as might have been hoped. Hopefully membership will continue to rise. Sunday Service ringing is very active and it is hoped that Elloe will be able to participate more in the Guild events. Barbara finished by thanking friends, members and her family for their support over the last year.

Treasurer's Report

The General account looks pretty healthy. The BRF is down a bit though. There are 71 adult members, 4 junior members and one associate member.

From left to right, Philip Green (Ringing Master)
Barbara Webster (Secretary), Revd Jonathan Sibley (President)
& Carrie Staley (Treasurer)

Ringing Master's Report

Tydd, St. Mary has been completely overhauled and a very good job has been made of it by Taylors. Also Moulton have had a major overhaul of the bearings, gudgeons and clappers. Fulney tower is still unringable as is Donington. Fish and Chips have been a bit of a theme for the ringing this year. The BBQ had to be cancelled due to lack of bookings. Philip thanked John Bennett for organising the ringing outing to Norfolk. The December meeting at Quadring was cancelled due to the lack of a Vicar. Elloe were unable to enter a team in either striking competition last year. Hopefully they will be able to enter a team in both this year.

Election of Officers

The Vicar of Gedney was added to the list of Vice Presidents. His name is Adrian Mason and apparently he is a ringer. John Bennett was elected as Ringing Master. He has had a 30 year ringing hiatus and observed that on his recent return he was struck by how much peal ringing had increased, but also by how much Sunday service ringing had generally declined. This is something he intends to address. Barbara Webster will remain as secretary for this year, but gave notice of her intention to step down next year. Carrie Staley was re-elected as Treasurer. Paul Barrett was elected as Safeguarding Officer. He is a school governor and has some knowledge on the subject. The Safeguarding Officer's job is to communicate current Branch/Guild/Diocesan practice to the members/towers as is relevant. We are not police and if there are any issues they should be referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. Guidelines for safeguarding are on the website.

The list of officers after the elections was as follows:

President: Revd. Jonathan Sibley
Vice Presidents: Various
Ringing Master: John Bennett
Secretary: Barbara Webster
Treasurer: Carrie Staley
Account Checker: Sally Clifton
Fund Raising Rep: Carrie Staley
Safeguarding Officer: Paul Barrett

Election of New Members

There were 3 members elected from Gedney and 2 junior members elected from Deeping, St. Nicholas

Branch BRF Rule changes

Someone asked why there are both Branch and Guild BRFs. Alan Payne (Guild Master) stated that this was because the funds can (and in fact are) used for different purposes. For instance, the Guild BRF will not pay money towards new ropes, but the Branch BRF may (and do) this if they feel it is appropriate. Also the Guild BRF is a registered charity and has to follow strict guidelines. The Branch BRFs are not charities and thus have more flexibility. Also it gives the Branches a certain degree of autonomy, a local say on how money is used. It was asked if a faculty is required to grant funds. It is usual, but not always necessary to have a faculty in place. "Minor works" (what used to be known as "De Minimis") covers a lot of the routine maintenance, but should still have the approval of the PCC. Any large or expensive work will require a faculty which requires an application to the DAC. The rules should read that appropriate authorisation has been received before any grant is paid. The BRF committee require an extra member to help on the committee. Philip Green agreed to join the committee.

2016 Programme

The 2016 programme was outlined (see here). Since there was a good representation from other Branches present, it was asked what sort of events other Branches find popular. Dot Mason from the Central Branch mentioned their "Rabbits" competition, a not ever so serious striking competition where everyone’s name goes in a hat and teams are drawn at random. Also the "Ring for your Supper" event was quite popular. This is where you ring at one tower and get your starter, go and ring at another tower and get your main course and then ring at the final tower and get your just desserts! The schools festival at the Cathedral is also a very worthwhile event to support. Elloe are hosting the Guild Six Bell competition this year. The suggested towers for the Six Bell are Moulton and Whaplode, but this still has to be confirmed.


John Bennett has the remains of a reel of pre-stretched polyester rope, used for top end rope. Some more is required. Philip Green knows where to get some (Marlow Ropes?) and will sort something out.

Date of Next AGM.

The next AGM will be on Saturday 4th February. There was a brief discussion on the venue, which came down to either Long Sutton or Spalding. The AGM was at Long Sutton in 2014, and there is a sort of "rota" of AGM towers and Spalding is next on the list. It was agreed that Spalding would host the next AGM, with perhaps a Fish and Chip tea from Sheddy’s Fish and Chip shop.

Further ringing
St. Laurence's at night

The meeting closed and we went back over to the church to ring. John Bennett got stuck in straight away as Ringing Master and got things organised very quickly. We even managed to get the bob course of Grandsire Cinques that eluded us earlier.

We didn't stay to the end, but got away shortly after 8:00pm.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)