It's been a busy quarter again and this is reflected in the size of this Newsletter. It's a bumper issue and I thank those who have contributed articles. In addition, there have been the AGM and Striking Competition, the Inter-Shires Competition, the Christmas Party - and of course the Mid-Week Tours. Oh, the events the FSG provides for your delectation and interest!
In addition there is a thought-provoking report by Keith Murphy on the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers' national seminar at Wellesbourne, which was advertised in the Notices section in the July Newsletter. This discussed the future of change-ringing. Keith's article is worth reading. One of the aspects discussed was the lack of an instantly-recognisable emblem for the CCCBR and how this lack of identity might be working against us in the public's eyes. The CCCBR does have a logo - apparently it isn't instantly-recognised by the majority of ringers let alone the public - so I've used it on this Newsletter's masthead to try to publicise it more.
The Striking Competitions and Guild AGM came and went. The Newing Shield competition was good - no 'issues' this time - and the AGM saw the retirement of Mike Rees as Hon Treasurer after lots of years (very many thanks, Mike, for all your loyalty and hard work in this capacity) and the election of Michael Dane to take over this essential post. Welcome Michael. The AGM was enlivened by the proposals to amend the Guild Rules and to raise the subscription. The proposal to amend the Rules caused little discussion, as most of the amendments were 'logical tidying' due to changes that have occurred since the last time the Rules were considered (1992). All the proposed amendments were accepted, along with additions to the existing rule governing election of members. The Rules will now be reprinted and issued to members.
Naturally, the proposal regarding subscriptions created some discussion: raise the sub by 66%! This was, of course, in the latter category of 'lies, damn lies and statistics'. As someone pointed out, 66% of little is very little, ie the proposed amount is very little more than little!! The proposal was accepted eventually, so now the sub from 1st January 2012 is £5 - which is currently a lot less than a gallon of petrol. I can't remember when the sub rose to £3, but I'll bet it was only just less than a gallon of fuel then! OK, you might ask, what do you get for a £5 sub? (Just for interest - and comparison - you can't even buy a dozen 1st class stamps for a fiver these days. Not even 11.)
For a start, you get four issues of the Newsletter, which are a cracking good read Well, I would say that, wouldn't I? However, as there are currently zilch offers to oust me from the Editor's chair, I can only conclude most people are happy with what they're getting. I like to think that way anyway.... Even at 75p a throw (a bargain, a bargain: the Ringing World's cover price is £1.85), that's £3. OK, what else is there? The Speaker at the 2011 Annual Dinner told us we are the only ringing organisation that has weekly practices. So, you have a regular opportunity to attend these if you want to (and there's a regular and excellent 'après ring', too, I understand...). That opportunity must be worth at least 50p (all of 1p/week) surely? What about the Ringing Tour that's organised for your delight? It's a wonderfully good time: another 50p at the very least! What about the opportunity to enter one of the best 6-bell Striking Competitions - a proper one, with rising and falling? Must be at least another 50p-worth. So what does that leave? Christmas Party, Walking Tour, Minimus competition and of course the Annual Dinner. Wrapping all those up together must be ... a quid's-worth of opportunities? To conclude then, at rock-bottom values that's £5.50's worth, ie 10% on the right side. Does any of this sound like major financial stuff....? But more than any of this, you get a Guild that has entirely local objects and entirely local management, the members of which you all know - and that must be worth a lot.
The augmentation at Temple Guiting is something in which Guild members can take much pride, as it was helped by a grant from the Guild's new Bell Restoration Fund. Go and ring on a 6 that was always meant to be a 6, even though it's taken 40 years to get there! I think you will enjoy them in their new form. Yes, they're still a bit loud, but... Read all about it on the front cover and the dedicated article. As you will have noticed, TG has a big belfry: lots or spare room in there. Get a 12 on one level, surely... (but it took 40 years to get 1 treble!).
It is rare to report a Guild peal in the Newsletter, but two are reported this time. This brings the total number of Guild peals this year to three. Congratulations to the bands who rang them. The peal at Offenham was particularly significant, as there were a large number of 'firsts' among the band. In addition it was the first by a local band for 20 years. I know it's been something of a slog getting this peal, as there have been a few attempts, but happily it all came together on October 30th. The second peal, at Moreton-in-Marsh, contained four local ringers, and a first in method.
Continuing this theme, congratulations to Joanna Murphy of Moreton-in-Marsh, who has been awarded MA in Modern History from King's College, London: see the quarter peal at Mickleton, rung 19th Dec.
The Guild Dinner will be upon us once more. The notice gives all the information about it. It's being held at the White Hart Royal Hotel in Moreton again. They did us well last year, so it's hoped the same conditions will apply once more. The Guild silverware is given out. Do come: it was most enjoyable last year.
As mentioned above nobody has come forward to take over as Editor of this august journal. I am in a dilemma. Having seen it rise to its present state (which people tell me they like: thank you), I am reluctant to see it fall from grace. On the other hand there are 'things' I want to do. Yes, the Newsletter does take time; and it might get in the way of what Helen and I want to do at various times in the future. I was rather 'bounced' into the job in 2009 after my predecessor's computer blew up and the Committee needed a Newsletter to advertise the Moreton Show stand. I volunteered to get something out, but was then left holding the baby when Steve announced his resignation during the compilation of that issue. I therefore offer to become a 'Caretaker' Editor. Continue sending the stuff to me and I will produce a Newsletter if I have sufficient time to do it. If not, that issue may have to be missed. Sorry, but this the only way I see to move forward. If this is thought to be unacceptable, please let me know.
(The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Four Shires Guild or its Committee. The Guild endorses no products or manufacturers advertised within the Newsletter - but would not allow such advertisements where the goods or services are knowingly questionable. Newsletter proof-read by Richard Lewis-Skeath)