Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Phew! Back to a Newsletter of 14 pages again. January's, at 18 sides, was something of a marathon, but it seemed to go down well, as I received a number of congratulatory remarks about it. Thank you for all those comments (particularly the note from HDB); they are appreciated.

We have some significant events coming up, but some significant events have happened recently. I refer to some significant birthdays for three well-known Guild members. First up was a 40th for Richard Lewis-Skeath on 17th January, followed by a 50th for Andrew Gunn on 24th January, and then last but by no means least was a 50th for Jackie Hands on 23rd February (I am allowed to give Jackie's age, as it is specified in the footnote of the quarter rung to celebrate it). Congratulations to all three — and please have many more of them. There is a very significant birthday (the numbers include 8 and 0) coming up on Monday April 30th for El Presidente. Let's ring something to mark this auspicious occasion. Of course, any birthday for Rob Harvey is always a significant one. June 19th is the day for him.

The significant events coming up: there are two national ones. The first is of course the Queen's Diamond Jubilee over the long weekend June 2nd - 5th. Bells are to play a big part in these celebrations, particularly on the Sunday (the 3rd) with the river pageant, which is due to occur down the Thames. I give more information about this and what is expected of church bell ringers in the article. While I recommend ringers obtain permission from incumbents to ring for the Olympics (see below), I doubt there will be objections from incumbents for Jubilee ringing!

The second significant event is the London Olympics, and bells have been brought into this. It's not just church bells in this case, but all sorts of bells. The idea of the organiser of this part of the event is that bells (of all sorts) will be sounded as loud and as fast as possible at 8.00am in the morning of the opening day. I have mentioned previously that there have been some differences of opinion between the CCCBR and the event organisers as far as church bells are concerned, but some sort of agreement has been reached. It has been said the CCCBR were reluctant to embrace this initiative in the beginning, because the event organisers made no contact to discuss how church bells could be used in this way. It is clear to me, though, the organisers' intentions, while laudable, displayed a profound ignorance of the way in which church bells are rung in this country, such that their requirements were mostly unworkable. Unfortunately, the organisers had gone too far down the road to alter those requirements. I think the CCCBR's recommendations are the best that can be done in the circumstances and I commend them to you. See the article.

The Guild is running a Summer BBQ on Saturday June 9th. Robert Hall of Evesham suggested it at last year's AGM, and he and Sophia L-S have arranged it. All the details are on the notice. It promises to be a pleasant event.

This year's Guild Ringing Tour has a major difference: it is to be a weekend event. We have to thank Richard and Sophia L-S for this inspiration and Richard in particular for its organisation. The tour will start on the Friday evening, run through the Saturday and finish with a tower on Sunday morning. It has been cleverly located, too, such that it's convenient for members to attend just on the Saturday as normal. An elegant arrangement! See the notice.

I hope the conductors among us enjoy the article about 240s of Grandsire Doubles. It is clear this simple little method is well able to provide touches ranging from the delightfully easy through to the mighty complex. Plain Bob Doubles can't get anywhere near; and the best you can get with Stedman Doubles is four Singles per 120. There is of course one other 'method' on a par: Original Doubles..., but it's fiendishly complex obtaining just a 120 of that stuff! (I heard talk of Grandsire Surprise being rung at Mickleton. John Kinchin will happily supply the details.)

Lastly, I hope readers will permit me to share my thoughts on Stuart Cummings' comments at the FSG Committee Meeting regarding some towers charging the Guild to practice on Saturdays. I am well aware that towers are fully able to take such decisions in this respect and that no criticism of any actions in this way is intended. However, I manage what is probably the most expensive tower to run in the Guild's area, and have done so for a long time, so my thoughts probably have some substance. The Evesham ringers try to cover the maintenance costs of the bells. We spend an average of about £400 annually on ropes alone. Other items increase this. A clapper repair (the large ones break occasionally) can be £500; and clapper rebushings, too. We have a rope fund, into which donations, peal fees and a proportion of wedding fees go. We make no charges for visitors. The only time money is demanded is when a peal has been rung. When asked if we have a charge for visitors I say donations aren't mandatory, but are welcomed. I believe we get more in the box that way than making a charge. Neither the Worcs & Dists CRA nor the FSG are charged for their practices, and I would not consider doing so. I believe we (ie, ringers local to this area) are here to help our neighbours in this respect. The W&D have helped out in the past with donations from their Belfry Repairs Fund, and the FSG's Bell Restoration Fund is also there when required. Please consider applying for a Guild BRF grant when work is required and there's no money in your pot to pay for it, rather than charging for practices. Perhaps this subject might encourage some letters to this august publication on the pros and cons of charging. I shall be delighted to include any that reach me.

Chris Povey

(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.)