Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Central Council Meeting 2011 - First Impressions

On Bank Holiday Monday 2011, some 206 members of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers sat down in a suitably large conference room in the Three Counties Hotel, Hereford. The occasion was the 114th Annual Meeting of the Council and the first I attended, as representative of the Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers.

Fortunately Chris Povey, and many other friends from ringing in North Gloucestershire and Sussex were close at hand to help me through the early stages of the process. Signing in, finding a seat, working out who was who and what was going to happen during the day were my immediate concerns.

I really didn't have to wait very long before it was obvious that the other 205 reps were, as is the general rule with ringers, really welcoming. This particular session of the Council had more than 50 new members which was thought to be an all time record, so change could perhaps be in the air. The first part of the welcome is a roll call of the new boys and girls and a quick stand up and wave if you're brave to the assembled throng. Pretty much like the first day at a new school really.

Things began to get a little more serious when business matters began. Previous minutes, the annual report of the Council and the accounts for 2010 all passed through the appropriate processes and following this, the election for additional members and Officers took place. It's not my intention to replicate the minutes here so don't get worried. . . just some highlights such as the election of Kate Flavell (Surrey Association) as President from 2011-2014 and (almost our very own!) Chris Mew (Coventry Dio. Guild) as Vice President 20011-2014.

Item 13 at the meeting could indeed be viewed as somewhat unlucky. The guild subscriptions per representative member were to be raised from £20 to £25 from Jan 2012. The last rise was in 2007 so in considering escalating costs (VAT, postage, venue costs etc.) Council concluded that the time was right for a rise. How about that? First meeting and the subs have gone up! How am I to explain that back at FSG?

One of my aims for the day was to somehow get myself elected onto one of the 16 committees of the Council. New faces are enthusiastically encouraged to participate in this. I was told that occasionally in the past committee places had remained unfilled but this was not the case for the 2011 meeting perhaps because of the large new intake.

Prior to the Council meeting, I had identified that an appropriate committee would be Ringing Trends as my day job essentially involves analysis and presentation of data. So with a contact from the G&B to propose me, and a ringer from my Sussex past prepared to second, I was all set to put my name forward at the required moment.

Tension was building as I was proposed and seconded and my name went up on the screen as the first candidate for the one position available. But then. . . up went another name with the proposer waxing lyrical on his candidate's merits and I began to see my chances of election dwindling by the minute. However. . . riding to the rescue from the floor came the suggestion that surely no election was necessary if the Ringing Trends Committee took two instead of one. Hence without further ado, the two of us willing volunteers were in.

The length of the meeting with the associated AGMs of The Ringing World and the Ringing Foundation was not inconsiderable: a 10.00am start going through to just gone 6.30pm but there were breaks for lunch and the occasional coffee and tea. Council members were frequently to be heard trying to conclude if the format of the meeting and the time committed to the process was about right.

I guess there's not a right or wrong answer here but representing the views of thousands of ringers across the country is not easy and the process used, whichever you select, will likely have some deficiencies. Bit like our ringing really, there's always more to learn and perfection can be approached but perhaps never achieved. . .

I'm looking forward to representing the FSG at the Central Council and linking between your committee and the Council. Please don't hesitate to make use of myself or Chris if you need any further information on the CCCBR or would like to discuss related matters.

Keith Murphy (FSG CCCBR Rep)

(It was reported in the issue of The Ringing World following the meeting that all the posts in the committees were filled — the first time for many a long year, no doubt. I cannot remember this happening in the time I have been a CC rep: 17yrs. Even Bill Nash, CC Rep for the G&B, managed to find himself on a committee (the Bell Restoration Committee), his entry to this being in similar fashion to Keith's. Ed — and the other FSG CC Rep)