Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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By this time, with the shortest day, Christmas and the New Year festivities well behind us, and even with the Spring equinox now a week or two away, I was expecting to feel warm sunshine and see blue sky. Little did I think my heating system would still be going some 5 months after being switched on. Apparently Easter was the coldest on record; and March was the coldest since 1962. It is becoming increasingly unusual to see blue sky, fluffy white clouds and a big ball of fire that actually warms….

Obituaries: one obituary was one too many in the last Newsletter, so reports of three deaths now is extremely sad. Obituaries for Arthur Berry, and Juliet Reynolds appear later. An obituary for Jane Hammond will appear in the July Newsletter. Our sincere condolences go to their families.

Peal Secretary: you will see from the Committee Meeting notes that Sandra Parker of Bidford has offered to do this job. We are delighted to have you on board, Sandra!

Newsletter costs: the appearance of the Guild accounts caused me to undertake some calculations to identify production costs for the Newsletter. A rough estimate of ‘about 9p per double-sided sheet’ was given in my article in the July 2012 about how the Newsletter is produced. Although the printing of the new Guild Rules Handbook occurred in 2012, there was a reduction in the number of Newsletters printed for the April, July and December issues. The total double-sided sheets therefore remained much the same as 2011. In both years (2011 and 2012) the cost per double-sided sheet was just under 7p. The Newsletter is the largest single expenditure for the Guild. I am pleased it is being held steady at a very reasonable level. If anyone knows of a place that will print/copy double-sided in colour for less than 7p per sheet, please let the printing team know. They will happily hand over the job!

Newsletter articles: although issues seem to fill up without too much difficulty, I would be delighted if there were more contributors. I write much of each issue and I suspect many members must be fed up with seeing my name so often at the end of an article. Because of this I am grateful to have contributions to this issue from John Kinchin, Frank Spiers, John Nicholls, Michael Dane, Richard Lewis-Skeath, Michael Haynes and lastly (but far from being the least) Stella Southam. Stella's article on the Longborough ringers of a century ago is superb; well researched, well-written and very interesting indeed. An absolute delight! Can we have some more like that, please? Stella has done her bit (but if you have some more in that vein, Stella, please don’t be shy in sending them in!!). Others must have similarly interesting articles to compile. Grateful as I am to these contributors, and to others who have contributed in the past, I think the Newsletter needs more contributors and therefore a wider spread of styles and subjects to make it more interesting. I know many members will say, “I can’t write”, but most people can. It may not rival Charles Dickens, but it will be sufficient to get the message over. I am used to ‘cleaning up’ written English of various styles and sources, so don’t worry about it not ‘being right’. I can sort that problem. Neither does it need to be fancily printed; it can come handwritten on a scrappy bit of paper. I would rather clean up submitted articles than write the articles from scratch! A year or two back there were many letters on various subjects and this made interesting reading. Write a letter on any aspect of the Guild, whether complimentary, critical or just good-natured. I will publish all.

All power to John Kinchin for organising an event to raise money to purchase new ropes for Mickleton (See article). In my humble view, too many towers plonk the cost of new ropes onto their PCCs. These bodies are very clearly having a tough time financially at the moment, with many PCCs finding themselves unable to pay their quota. One new rope will be at least £120. PCCs may not find such items far up the priority list now. We ringers therefore have an increasing need either to look after/repair our ropes to lengthen their lives, or fund or find independent funding ourselves. As someone who looks after a number of ropes at his own and at two other towers, and has recently been repairing ropes in towers elsewhere, I find myself casting an inspecting eye over ropes in towers I visit without thinking. Some towers look after ropes quite well, whereas some seem not to care about them at all. I guess if somebody else pays, you don’t worry. Beware: this might not continue. We ringers must continue to look after, or in some cases start looking after, ‘our’ bell installations through funds of our own or funds collected as at Mickleton, otherwise we may find that the owners, the PCCs, will restrict payments or stop them altogether.

Thefts from Churches: such acts have been prevalent for some time – nothing is genuinely sacred any more, it seems – but, as far as ringers and bells are concerned, recent events have raised the bar. Along with similar incidents at St Nicholas, Warwick, and St Sampson’s, Cricklade, the tower door at Moreton-in-Marsh was forced and ‘a person unknown’ gained entry to the Ringing Chamber. The only loss was money from the collecting box, but an idiot in such a place in such circumstances could wreak much havoc. While he, she, or they may not get into the belfry, much damage could have been done to ropes, with attendant inconvenience and large cost. Please ensure everything is well-secured.

Chris Povey, (Caretaker) Editor

(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.)