A very select group of Guild members attended the Annual Dinner on Saturday 4th February. The selection process was simple and had nothing whatsoever to do with ringing ability. In fact, it had nothing to do with ringing at all. It was merely whether you could reach the White Hart Royal Hotel in Moreton-in-Marsh that evening, as the forecasted snow came exactly on time (as predicted by our very own local weatherman, John Hammond, on the BBC). Helen and I pressed our old Range Rover into service to get there; and I'm glad we had it, as the snow 'over the top' and particularly the road down through Bourton-on-the-Hill seemed entirely to have escaped the attention of a gritter or snowplough. Moreton's High Street was fully white and had only the very occasional vehicle along it. If the R-R was very desirable down Bourton's hill, it was essential up it. A number of members booked for the Dinner phoned in to say they had decided not to tackle the journey, or had tried but discretion overcame valour. It was unfortunate, of course, but if accidents were avoided, then this was by far the best outcome.
Luckily the President and Pat were transported by 4WD. The Guild Master, Peter Quinn, successfully negotiated his route from Wellesbourne, as did the new Guild Treasurer, Michael Dane, with his wife Linda. The Hon Sec, Andrew Gunn, arrived from a similar direction (perhaps north of Moreton wasn't quite so bad?), so, with the Ringing Master, Sophia L-S, living literally 'just round the corner', the Guild Officers were all present. Luckily, too, our Speaker, Guild Vice-President Rev Peter Newing, had arrived earlier in the day, as he was staying overnight, and had therefore avoided the transport chaos. The final tally of those attending was 26.
The White Hart again looked after us. Moreton is an excellent venue: central to the Guild's area of operation; and of course the Guild was founded in the town.
John Nicholls formally introduced us to our Speaker, Peter Newing, but of course this was only a courtesy, as he is well known to the Guild. Yes, he is one of our Vice-Presidents, but more than that he lived and rang in the area when he was a curate at Blockley. Beyond that, he has been very generous to the Guild, having donated the Newing Shield to replace the 'old' Shield that has never been found.
Peter regaled us with a potted history of his 'bell-broking' exploits. This is a charitable pursuit, which, he says, it is to prevent at least some part of his Estate going to the tax-man. Peter said he's generally been lucky in not losing any money over the deals he'd done, and this success had allowed him to donate many bells. The most exciting tale was about the time he went to the London area in his Morris 1000 pick-up to collect a bell he'd just purchased. This equalled the vehicle's carrying capacity and was loaded with all the weight was over the rear wheels. When chugging along, everything appeared OK, except that the steering was a little lighter than normal. Unfortunately he turned onto the motorway to expedite his return, but the necessary speed increase had a marked and terrifying effect. It caused the slightly light steering to become horribly light, such that the vehicle weaved around alarmingly! Happily Peter eventually reached his destination without major mishap.
The President asked Peter to present the silverware to the intended recipients. First on the list was the Newing Shield presented to the winners of the Striking Competition, Moreton-in-Marsh, for which band Sophia L-S received it. The Spencer Jones Cup is traditionally presented to the team that came second in this competition, which was Wellesbourne, and Peter Quinn collected this trophy on behalf of that band. The last item awarded was for the Minimus (Mini-Mouse) competition held at Temple Guiting. 'The Committee' team were victorious in this. Andrew Gunn received the trophy from the President on behalf of his team.
A raffle for various donated prizes was drawn after the trophy presentations, and this raised £43.75 for the Guild's Bell Restoration Fund. After this, because of the weather, most thought it prudent to return home without delay.