Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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The 250th FSG Mid-Week Tour occurred on August 19th and, rather appropriately, was run around 'Four Shires Heartland'. Four towers were visited, Mickleton and Willersey in the morning, and Saintbury and Chipping Campden in the afternoon. If it were intended as a delightful, easy and picturesque meander, then it managed this without difficulty. Not only that, the day was fine. All the necessary ingredients then! It only lacked Tony Brazier to witness this milestone (and he would have been delighted to have seen how far his idea had come), but Phyllis was there, along with other long-termers Frank Spiers and John Nicholls There must have been others on the tour who attended the first one, and I apologise for not identifying them here.

I believe the first tour, arranged by Tony, took place around North Worcs on 19th October 1989, visting Belbroughton, Stone, Areley Kings and Shrawley. If I recall correctly, the early tours were called the 'Vice-President's Tours'. The arrangements for this first tour and the general idea must have been acceptable to those attending, as the next tour was the following month: to Herefordshire, where Bosbury, Coddington, Mathon and Bishops Frome received a visit; and the next month (Dec), too, to South Warks: Snitterfield, Aston Cantlow, Hatton and (a quick dip into Worcs) Alvechurch. The formula was clearly right from the beginning, as 'The Geriatrics' Tour' as it was to be become known - due to it being convenient only for non-working, eg retired, people to attend - followed every month without fail, the 3rd Thursday of the month being the designated day. I say 'without fail', but this is not strictly true, as counting 250 months on from October 1989 makes July 2010 the 250th tour. So what happened? It appears the February 1991 never took place. I assume bad weather was the reason, but can anyone confirm that, or was there another reason? One month in 250 is quite remarkable, and this testifies to the clearly-amazing behind-the-scenes management that goes into getting tours organised and advertised well in advance. There is quite obviously a loyal following, too.

A goodly crowd from many counties met at Mickleton, where Triples and Major were rung. Willersey followed, where the narrow stairs were negotiated for touches of Doubles and Minor. Lunch was taken at The Bell Inn, a few yards from the Church, and afterwards it was up the hill to Saintbury, where the 8 bells were used to good effect. A trickle down the hill to Chipping Campden brought the party to the last tower, where the many steps provided late exercise in getting to the Ringing Room. John Nicholls had a light snack laid on in the Church at the end of the ringing for the participants, at which he said a few congratulatory words about the milestone that had been reached that day.