The Moreton-in-Marsh Show, 5th September: M/M Show 60, FSG 100!

This was the big one – a stand at the Moreton-in-Marsh Show to advertise the Art of Church Bell Ringing to the public at large! Was the Guild up to performing like this in public?

Andrew Gunn (Hon Sec) had this high-flying idea some two years ago that a stand at the Moreton Show would be an excellent way to celebrate our Centenary and to promote bell ringing at the same time. He explored the idea with the Show’s hierarchy and they thought it had much merit. It was seen as something quite different for their 60th anniversary. They kindly offered a greatly-discounted fee for a stand. Also, Andrew approached George Dawson, the owner of the Willoughby Campanile, a transportable and easily-erectable ring of bells in miniature (a mini-ring), who agreed to the Guild borrowing it for this occasion. The basic seeds were sown! As ever, of course, turning ideas into reality can take up huge amounts of time and resources. If the Todenham Centenary Party went awry through poor organisation, then only the FSG members would see it. If the Moreton Show stand went pear-shaped, the public would see it and the credibility of the Guild would plummet. It was essential this one was absolutely right. Unfortunately, it followed hard on the heels of the Centenary Party (just two months after), and to be fair, there was a near-fatal lull in the organising effort, probably due to a sigh of relief that the Party had happened largely as expected. Nobody twigged there were only 2 months in which to put much flesh on some bare bones. At the 5-weeks-to-go mark, a ‘crunch’ meeting was called to decide whether there was sufficient time and effort available to get the event up and running – or not. Opinion was equally divided between the ‘go-aheads’ and those that said we shouldn’t; not because the latter didn’t want to, but because they considered it could flop. A subcommittee was formed from the ‘go-ahead’ brigade and a meeting was arranged for a week ahead, to hear what was proposed. Happily, much was discussed in the interim and subsequently presented at that meeting, making the worriers less worried at the end of it, and with everyone agreeing to put their backs into making it all happen. Peter Kenealy, who had put much effort into the proposal, agreed to be the project manager for the stand. Please don’t think your committee were deficient in not getting onto the project earlier. Never forget all committee members are volunteers, i.e. not paid, and everything is done out of the goodness of their hearts and spare time.

It had been agreed the mini-ring would be collected from Leicestershire on the Wednesday or Thursday before the Show, and be erected in Richard and Sophia Lewis-Skeath’s lock-up shed for a dry-run, to avoid time delays on Show Day caused by wondering where the hell this bit goes, etc. This also allowed a little play with the bells by the dedicated band of erectors. Everything went together correctly; and yes, a little play was had by all!

Show Day arrived with some promise of a sunny day ahead. The mini-ring framework had been erected the day before, so this left just the bells and wheels to be fitted – which happened without fuss. Peter had arranged to borrow a large, unfoldable, gazebo thingy, to give some shelter to the display in case of rain. This went up perfectly and did just as hoped. Miraculously, everything came together in time for the start of the Show. And do you know? From a hazy idea of what it might look like, there emerged a stand that looked extremely professional! It really hit the eye. Three members of the Coventry Diocesan Guild came along to help, both with display material and man (and woman) power. Their assistance was greatly appreciated. Chris Povey brought along some Worcs & Districts Association display material. There was some from the Glos & Bristol DA and from the Oxford Guild. Arthur Berry of Berry & Co very kindly supplied some bell gear to display, including a bell wheel. We did well!

The star of the display was, of course, the mini-ring. There had been some concern from the organisers and our near neighbours that it would produce a lot of noise and that some control would be required. As it turned out, we used the mini-ring in some form or other continuously from start to finish. Our neighbours didn’t find it as bad as they feared. The ring caused huge interest, and it was rare to have a lull in that interest. Many people, old and young, had a go at ringing. Some lapsed ringers emerged, as well as active ringers visiting the Show. All had a go. Occasionally, there was some proper ringing on the bells and up to Cambridge S Major was rung. Mention must be made of another ringing bell. This was Bourton-on-the-Water’s model bell, which had been mounted on a wooden frame. So many little boys and girls pulled this to sound it. It was probably the most-used bell on the stand!

The stand was undoubtedly a great success. Everybody associated with it felt it had satisfied the original intentions; and probably exceeded them. Andrew Gunn, whose idea it was, and Peter Kenealy, stand project manager, are to be congratulated on achieving such a superb display. Thanks are due to the dedicated band of erectors, and of course to George Dawson for allowing the FSG the mini-ring.

The ring was subsequently erected in the lock-up again, where it was used to ring some quarters (see page 11)


Pre-Show mini-ring erection

Perplexed President

Seeking Divine guidance…?

The day dawned.

Butter wouldn't melt…

The Stand internally

Interest hots up…

… and continues all day

Lollipop, lollipop…

The fancy ringers

Real ringing

The Stand project manager

The look-after-everyone manager

Hon Treas: argh, we've spent money!

Final dismantling: note girl power