Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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The Guild Rules: Details of Proposal to Amend

This article gives the details of the proposal that is advertised in the Notices regarding amendments to the Guild Rules.

The existing Guild Rules (as last amended 1992 and currently contained within a yellow booklet) are shown below in black. The part that is to be amended is shown struck through, with the proposed wording to replace it shown in blue. The reasons for the proposed change are shown in italics. The proposed amendments generally arise because of various changes that have occurred since 1992.


(Reason for change: there were two variations of the name in use. The Committee decided this version should be used)

The Guild shall be called THE FOUR SHIRES GUILD OF BELLRINGERS BELL RINGERS. (Reason: as above)
  1. To encourage the regular ringing of Church Bells for Church Services and as otherwise directed, requested or approved of by the incumbent of the Parish;
  2. To concentrate the activities of the Guild within the boundaries of an area agreed from time to time by its Members*;
  3. To encourage the training of ringers, instructors and conductors, and generally cultivate the art of change ringing;
  4. To promote fellowship amongst ringers.
Membership shall be divided into the following classes:-
  1. Ringing Members: a Ringing Member shall be an active church bell ringer, shall normally reside and ring in the area covered by the Guild, and shall be elected on the proposition of a Ringing Member and seconded by an Officer of the Guild. Such election shall be formally noted to the next Annual General Meeting of the Guild;
  2. Associate Members: persons other than active members who wish to support the work of the Guild may be so elected at an Annual General Meeting; (Reason: has become redundant.)
  3. Honorary Life Members: ringers who have reached the age of 65 years and have (a) taken part in the activities of the Guild prior to 1940, or (b) have been a paid-up member of the Guild under (1) or (iv) for the previous five years, are entitled to become Honorary Life members without payment of subscription, upon application to the Secretary in the opinion of the Committee have rendered exceptional service to the Guild. Confirmation of this is by a recommendation to the membership at an Annual General Meeting, which must gain support from at least 75% of those present and able to vote. Honorary Life Members are granted membership without payment of subscription; (Reasons: the Guild would be bankrupt in a short time if this clause remains, as a large proportion of members are now eligible to pay nothing! Additionally, the Guild wishes to recognise exceptional service through the amendment.)
  4. Extra-Territorial Members: ringers normally residing and ringing outside the area covered by the Guild shall be elected upon the proposition of a Ringing Member and seconded by an Officer of the Guild. Such election shall be formally be noted to the next Annual General Meeting. The number of members elected in this class shall not exceed one quarter of the current members in class (i) and shall be elected annually. (Reason: this category is now considered unnecessary.)
shall be due and payable on the first day of January in each year. A new member joining in November or December shall be deemed to have paid for the following year also. Membership shall cease if subscription is more than one year in arrears, but may recommence upon payment of all arrears. The amount of the annual subscription shall be approved at an AGM.
President & Vice-President(s):
Persons elected annually at an Annual General Meeting A President and a Vice-President, or Vice-Presidents, shall be elected at an Annual General Meeting. Such appointments shall stand for three years, after which these persons may be eligible for re-election if so desired. Any person appointed to these offices may resign the position within the period if they wish, at which point an election to appoint a successor will be for the outstanding term of office. (Reasons: need to recognise the validity of two VPs as at present; also, the extended duration of office provides more stability and reflects Central Council practice.)
The Officers of the Guild shall be:
  1. a Guild Master — whose duties shall be to control the activities of the Guild at meetings and other occasions as may be provided for in these Rules, or as directed by the Committee;
  2. a Ringing Master mdash; whose duties shall be to co-ordinate ringing activities by members of the Guild at meetings and other occasions as may be provided for in the Rules, or as directed by the Committee. The Ringing Master may if so desired devolve to suitable Guild members the responsibilities of controlling ringing activities at meetings, without reference to the Committee; (Reason: to reflect the recent agreements by the Committee for managing Saturday and other ringing meetings.)
  3. an General Honorary Secretary — who shall keep the minutes of all meetings of the Guild, maintain a complete register of all members, issue notices of all business and similar meetings, and carry out other such duties as may be required for the advancement of the Guild; (Reasons: name change to reflect more common usage. Excludes ringing practice meetings.)
  4. an Honorary Treasurer — who shall receive all monies on behalf of the Guild, paying them into the Guild's banking account. He/she shall keep such accounts as the Guild desires, and pay all official expenses connected with the Guild's activities. He/she shall invest Guild funds on instructions from the Committee. At the AGM of the Committee He/she shall present an audited statement of accounts made up to the previous 31st December. All cheques shall be signed by the Honorary Treasurer and the General Honorary Secretary, or other such persons as shall be authorised by the Committee. (Reason: name change to reflect more common usage; no male exclusivity.)
AuditorsIndependent Examiners:
There shall be two Auditors Independent Examiners, elected annually at the AGM on the recommendation of the Committee. They shall examine and audit all accounts of the Guild and report on the same to the Committee. They need not be members of the Guild. (Reason: Independent Examiners more relevant; to comply with the decision made at the 2010 AGM.)
The affairs of the Guild shall be managed by a Committee. Such Committee, which shall consist of the Officers of the Guild together with six other elected members, not more than two of which shall be Associate Members. The Central Council representative(s) shall also be deemed members of the Committee. The Committee shall meet annually in advance of the AGM to consider reports submitted by the Officers, and the Guild accounts, together with and other relevant business. Other meetings of the Committee meetings shall be called by the General Honorary Secretary after consultation with the Guild Master and the Treasurer. The Chairman at such meetings shall be the Guild Master, or, if he/she shall not be present, the members attending shall elect a chairman for that meeting. There shall be at least two committee meetings in any calendar year. (Reasons: simpler wording, no male exclusivity, inclusion of CCCBR reps.)
Central Council Representatives:
The Guild is, for the time being, able to send two representatives to attend the annual meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. Two such representatives are to be elected at the Guild AGM prior to the start of the CCCBR Triennium, the three-year period of each Council, their appointments being for that three-year term. (Reason: to include these new positions.)
Elections to posts:
where there are more nominations for a post than the number of people required to fill it, an election will be held. This will be by secret ballot. Each candidate and their proposer will be invited to give a short speech as to why the candidate is best fitted to the duties of the post. Where a candidate's proposer is not present, the Chairman will, with the candidate's approval, invite anyone else present to speak on the candidate's behalf. (Reason: to formalise the election process.)
Co-option to posts:
where a holder of a post wishes to resign from that post mid-term, the committee may fill the vacancy by co-option, such cooption remaining valid until the next AGM. The Committee may co-opt any Ringing Member to the committee on a temporary basis when there is a specific reason to do so. (Reason: to allow the committee to fill midterm vacancies without an election and to allow flexibility.)
Annual General Meeting:
The AGM of the Guild shall be held in April October each year. The business to be transacted at such an AGM shall consist of the election of the President, Vice-President(s), Officers of the Guild, Auditors Independent Examiners, Committee members, CCCBR Representatives, Ringing Members and Associate Ringing, Associate and HLF Members, and other such business appropriate to an AGM. All nominations for Officers, signed by the nominee and the proposer, shall be received by the General Honorary Secretary in writing and signed by the nominee not later than two weeks before the date of the AGM. Only fully Fully paid-up members only shall be entitled to vote at any meeting of the Guild. The Chairman of the Annual or other General Meeting of the Guild shall be the President, or in his absence a Vice-President; or if there is no Vice-President who is prepared to take the Chair, the Guild Master. Should none of the foregoing be present then the members attending shall elect one of their number to act as Chairman for that meeting, providing those voting to elect are eligible to do so and the person elected is a fully paid-up member of the Guild. (Reason: need to correct AGM date; clearer wording; also need to ensure a substitute chairman is fully eligible.)
Alteration to the Rules:
No alteration, deletion or addition to the Rules shall be made except at an AGM or Special Meeting of the Guild, of which not less than four weeks shall have been given.

* Currently agreed as the four counties, viz. Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire area commonly known as the North Cotswolds and its immediate surrounding area, which encompasses parts of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. This area of operation is shown by the tower map that appears at the front of the Rules booklet. (Reason: the area as previously defined is too widespread and greater definition is required. This map is shown below:-)