Happy New Year to all members! May your ringing in 2015 — amongst many other things — be pleasurable.
The Guild AGM in October caused some changes to personnel. There were five vacancies, but all except two were, or have by now been, filled. I moved into the Hon Sec's chair, Richard Lewis-Skeath has become the Guild Ringing Master, and the Rev Dr Peter Newing is now the Guild Chaplain. Although John Carroll has filled one of the Committee vacancies, we still need another one. We also need a Guild Child Protection Officer. Can you help with either of these? The CPO is unlikely to need to attend Committee meetings, as it's largely a monitoring and updating post. Should there be a problem, a report on the incident to the Committee would be expected.
You will notice that our new Guild Chaplain has not let the grass grow under his feet and has provided us with 'The Chaplain's Thoughts', which hopefully will become a regular feature. Thank you, Peter.
The Guild's Annual Dinner is soon to occur. Saturday February 7th is the date, and it will be held at The White Hart Royal Hotel, Moreton-in-Marsh. See the Notices. A change of location was discussed in Committee, but the majority felt the Dinner should be in Moreton, it being the place in which the Guild was formed in 1909; but apart from that the Hotel has treated us well previously. This year the Speaker will be Michael Uphill. If you've heard Michael speak previously, you'll know we are in for a treat. He's an outstanding speaker, but he's also a very high profile ringer. He's seen a lot, done a lot, and has known and rung with many of the Greats (and characters) of ringing. And yes; he's very witty, too! If you've not heard him speak, I recommend that you come to the Dinner to do just that.
There are reports this time of two rehanging and augmenting schemes. One, Leek Wootton near Warwick, is outside our operating area, but a number of Guild members have made significant contributions to the scheme there. It is clear the work will make an extremely good 6. The other, Stanway, is inside our area of operation, but in this case the initiative, drive and on-site help has come from members of the Gloucester & Bristol DA, principally Simon Ridley from Cheltenham. The only time I rang there was for the Guild's Minimus Striking Competition in 1996. After that — and they were dreadful - I had no wish to repeat the experience, although various bits of work by Simon did, I believe, improve them a little. It seems likely these two schemes will be joined sometime later this year by Adlestrop, which, hopefully will become a delightful and delightfully-light ring of 6.
The Mid-week Tours have knocked up a tercentenary (there's one for the X-words, El Pres!). The 300th such tour took place in October and visited those towers visited on the first tour. One person who attended that first tour was there, Frank Spiers. Good for you Frank! Three hundred tours are equivalent to 25 years. I believe there has been only one month when a tour did not take place during that time. This is surely one of the most amazing records concerning ringing tours. Not only that, they are very well attended (I liked a recent report that said a particular tour was down on numbers at 14!) The recent re-jigging of the tour reports now brings us a veritable cornucopia of details and writing styles. Marvellous! Keep it up — both the tours and the reports. All thanks, of course, to Isobel for the overall management of this successful enterprise! The article on the Guild's Bell Restoration Fund reminds us it was money amassed by the Mid-week Tours that initiated the BRF in 2010.
'Roger de Flaedenburg' gives us another of his 'Tales from a tower near you', which describe the nitty gritty aspects of major bell maintenance. These are extremely fascinating, particularly the Tale in this issue, which is all about tubular bells (no, no, not Mike Oldfield's version…!). I wasn't aware that Icomb had a set of these, although such is listed in Dove 3rd Edition (but not later editions); and of course in 'Church Bells of Glos' (Bliss/Sharpe). Please keep these Tales coming, 'R de F'!
There have been many Quarters and similar ringing this time; 19 are reported (including what I believe is probably the Guild's first 12-bell Q — unless someone knows otherwise).
Lastly: please read the article I've written about Newsletter no 25. After you've read it, and if you have old Newsletters, please sift through them to help answer the question: did it/does it exist?
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.)