The 2011 Annual Dinner returned to the Guild's spiritual home of Moreton-in-Marsh. The return was coincidental, as the decision to investigate a suitable venue in the town was made before the Old Minute Book was discovered and provided the relevant confirmation. The venue, The White Hart Royal Hotel, proved very acceptable, in accommodation, service and food, and may be a front-runner for next year's Dinner.
Some 50 members and partners attended. We not only had the President, John Nicholls, this year, but one of our Vice-Presidents, too, Rev Peter Newing. Unfortunately, the Guild Master, Peter Quinn, was unable to be with us, as he and Veronica had an appointment to chug up the Panama Canal. Chris Povey acted as MC. Chris explained that his beard had not truthfully been grown to combat the winter, but to disguise himself as Bill Nash, whom allegedly he'd agreed with Peter to contact about being MC. But he said he'd overlooked this action, so the growth was a desperate measure to make Peter think Bill was MC after all when the photos of the occasion were published. Few were convinced about this explanation, although Bill visibly paled when Chris apologised for depriving him of his moment of glory, but said there was always next year.
The President welcomed everyone to the Dinner, after which he invited Peter Newing to say Grace.
the meal was concluded, Chris introduced the Speaker, who this year was Jackie Roberts. Jackie is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Ringing World (RW), which publication - by the time you read this - will have celebrated 100 years of existence in March. Although living in Woking for some years now, Jackie spent time in our part of the world through her employment as a Human Resources Manager, and learnt to ring at Bishop's Cleeve. She is now an HR consultant and acts in this role with RW.
Jackie admitted that she had known little about the Guild until recently, and had sought to find out what it's about and how it ticks. She said she was truly amazed at what this comparatively small and rural organisation achieves on a regular basis. She said, 'You have weekly practices! I know of no other organisation that has weekly practices, other than the College Youths - but they're not a proper ringing association so don't matter!' (There were some shocked looks on the top table, and a hissed and horrified 'What did she say, John?' may have been heard at the adjoining tables! Jackie responded with a wide grin.) She continued by praising the quality and content of the Newsletter, saying that it continued a tradition that had been confirmed by it winning a RW-run competition for newsletter publications a few years ago. Her exclamation, 'What are you on here?!' clearly demonstrated her delight at discovering what the Guild is achieving. She said she'd looked up the Guild in RW, but could find nothing of note until 1979, when a history was published following the 1974 refounding. Since then, the Guild and its activities have become better and more-widely known, culminating in the Guild's successful application to affiliate to the Central Council last year, when it received an almost unanimous vote from the 200+ delegates. She said some Guild members were already playing prominent roles in the Central Council via other organisations, but the Guild could now fly its own flag through its new CC representatives. She wished the Guild well for the future, which, under the present mode of operation, would be assured.
Following the applause, Chris Povey said he had a presentation copy of the Newsletter to give her; and if Robert (Lewis: the RW Editor) ever had a problem, we would be happy to give advice....
After this, the 2010 Striking Competition trophies were given to the winners. First up was Mickleton for winning the competition and thus gaining the Newing Shield. Chris Righton accepted this on behalf of the team The second presentation was a miniature shield given permanently to the winners. This was presented to the 2009 winners (it had been unavailable at the 2009 Dinner), who were Ilmington, on whose behalf Bill Nash accepted it. The last presentation was the Spencer Jones Cup to the team that came second in the 2010 event, which was Ilmington, on whose behalf Andrew Gunn accepted it.
The last event of the evening was the raffle, run by the inimitable and irrepressible Jackie H (see photo). This was quite an event, as there were loads of prizes; it just went on and on, such was the generosity of those giving the prizes. The raffle raised £63 for the new Guild Bell Restoration Fund.
Was it a good evening? Yes, it certainly seemed to be! Thanks for this must go to Peter Q, who set it up with the hotel initially, to Sophia L-S in liaising with the hotel on the night and probably many other little things as well (the perils of living so close!), to Jackie H for running the raffle, to Andrew Gunn for collecting the Dinner money, and to all others who helped in some way and aren't mentioned individually here.
Photos of members at the AGM (courtesy of Charles Wilson):-