THE annual general meeting was held at Portsmouth on Saturday, July 1st, and was attended by nearly 80 ringers from all districts of the Guild and many visitors from Sussex, Surrey and Dorset. The gathering was welcomed by the Vicar of Portsea (Canon W. J. Smith), who expressed his great pleasure at being invited to join them and assured them that he was grateful to his own ringers and the Guild in general for the work they did on behalf of the Church. The meeting, over which the Master (Mr. G. Pullinger) presided, received the welcome with acclamation. Supporting the Master were the hon. general secretary, hon. treasurer and Mr. V. P. A. G. Scardifield (nephew of the late Master, Mr. George Williams).
Mr. Pullinger, on behalf of the meeting, expressed their delight in welcoming Mr. Scardifield, who in his early life had such intimate connections with the late Master. In reply, he thanked the meeting for their kind welcome and recalled many incidents in the life of Mr. Williams, when such personalities as John Carter, Henry Dains and John Goldsmith were regular visitors to his home. He had brought with him a set of 16 handbells, twelve of which were presented to Mrs. Williams by Harvey Reeves, editor of "The Bell News," the other four being purchased by Mr. Williams in order to make a light eight. It gave him the greatest pleasure to present them to the Guild, they had been a great treasure to him and, not being a ringer himself, he thought they should find a resting place with the Guild, although he handed them over with a feeling of regret.
The Master, after accepting them on behalf of the Guild, thanked Mr. Scardifield for this magnificent gift and expressed the wish that they would find a suitable centre to place them, together with the books of the late Master, which had already been received by the Guild. He hoped that after a custodian had been appointed bands would take the opportunity to seek the loan of these bells so that they could be fully used.
In opening the business of the meeting, the Master reviewed the events of the past year, which had given much cause for satisfaction.
The joint report of the hon. secretary and hon. treasurer stated that it gave them great pleasure to report that in nearly every district the respective secretaries had reported a great increase in ringing activities and a greater interest taken by members in the affairs of their districts. "We cannot stress too deeply the part that members can play in order to keep the districts in a flourishing condition, which ultimately determines the strength of the whole Guild and thereby eases the great work put in by the district secretaries."
Bell restorations were reported in many areas of the Guild. Hawkley bells had been augmented to eight, and restoration work was reported from Froxfield (6), Tangley (5), Arreton, I. of W. (5), and Twyford (8).
The financial position had much improved compared with the previous year, due to the increased subscription of ringing members. Compared with a deficit on the year 1948 of £29 17s. 2d., there was a credit balance of £6 18s. 9d. for 1949. Receipts at £158 also showed an increase of £38 compared with the previous year. Membership was slightly less with 70 honorary members compared with 73; 652 full members as against 717. Some decrease, due to the increased subscription, was anticipated, but generally speaking members had given their unstinted support, which was greatly appreciated.
The death was deeply deplored of such prominent and faithful members as Wilfred Andrews, Eli Waters, Charles Forfitt, William Melville and others who had passed away since the last report. "Our deepest sympathies and grateful thanks for all the work they did for the Guild is extended to all their relatives."
The treasurer observed that financially the Guild was turning the corner, due in no small measure to the members responding by paying the increased subscription agreed upon.
In the absence of the peal recorder (Mr. A. V. Davis), the secretary presented the report, expressing regret that owing to the much heavier cost involved by printing the peals in full in the annual report, they had to be included in tabulated form. It was emphasised that this was purely a temporary expedient and that it was hoped to present a more comprehensive annual report as soon as finances permitted.
The peal recorder's report stated that in total number of peals recorded 1949 was undoubtedly a record year for the Guild; 148 peals were rung, comprising 53 tower-bell peals and 95 on handbells.
In tower-bell performances there was a little more variety; there were three of Surprise Royal and 15 of Surprise Major, including one of Spliced, the others being in seven different methods - Yorkshire, Painswick and Lincolnshire appearing in addition to the usual four. The six-bell ringers came more into the picture, recording 12 peals in a variety of methods as against four only in the previous year.
Mr. C. H. Kippin headed the list of 17 conductors with a total of 13. In the handbell section, which has Bournemouth as its headquarters, a total of 95 peals was recorded, rung by 33 ringers, 17 of whom were visitors to the district. Both Mr. Matkin and Mrs. Marshallsay rang a total of over 100 peals during the year, Mrs. Marshallsay being the first lady ever to accomplish a century within 12 months.
During 1949 there were 20 first peals, three first peals "in hand," 126 first peals in the method and two first peals as conductor.
The election of officers resulted as follows: Master, Mr. G. Pullinger; hon. general secretary, Mr. F. W. Rogers; hon, treasurer, Mr. W. Linter; auditor, Mr. A. York Bramble; recorder of peals, Mr. A. V. Davis; representatives on Central Council, the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead and Messrs. C. H. Kippin, G. Pullinger and F. W. Rogers.
A comprehensive report on the Central Council proceedings at Eastbourne was given by Mr. C. H. Kippin, with comments on most of the controversial issues. In recognition of his past services for many years the retiring auditor (Mr. G. Smith) was elected an honorary life member, as was also Mr. V. P. A. G. Scardifleld, the latter expressing his appreciation of their goodwill.
The sub-committee appointed by the last annual meeting to examine the question of reforming the districts of the Guild had met, and in their report found that "they were unanimously of the opinion that no useful purpose would be served by interfering with the present constitution of the districts. If, however, minor adjustments in the transfer of towers are deemed desirable, these can be met by the application of Rule 10." The meeting accepted the findings of the sub-committee with thanks.
Notice of alteration to rule was given after it was discussed that the allowance given to representatives attending meetings of the Central Council was inadequate and should be increased to that at present allowed.
In accordance with the wishes of the last annual meeting, the Executive Committee had reviewed several suggested schemes, and it recommended that the proposed memorial to the late Master should take the form of a table book-case, which would house the ringing books left by him to the Guild and provide for future additions. The Master observed that now that they had a munificent gift in the form of handbells, when the details of the memorial were worked out it might be possible to include them as well. The proposal was received by the meeting with great pleasure and it was decided to circularise all the towers in the Guild and to make a national appeal, through the medium, of "The Ringing World" to enable a wider circle of friends of the late Master who wish to be associated with the memorial to contribute.
In view of the decision to proceed with this memorial, the meeting agreed to shelve the question of the proposed Guild war memorial for a further twelve months. It was decided to hold next year's annual meeting at Winchester or, failing permission from the Dean, to visit Basingstoke.
Enquiries were made concerning a reprint of the Guild certificate, and it was decided to explore the possibility of a re-issue if costs were not prohibitive.
Mr. Bailey (Godshill, I.O.W.) raised the point of a school for the training of instructors to be held possibly over the Easter week-ends. Mr. York Bramble said it had district advantages, and was a good idea, but it would probably mean ringers paying their own expenses. The executive would agree, however, to examine this proposal.
It was agreed to vote two guineas towards the cost of rehanging the bells at Froxfield.
Mr. York Bramble kindly consented to become librarian of the Guild, which office entitled him to be an ex-officio member of the committee.
After the meeting choral Guild service was held in St. Mary's Church, followed by tea. A course of Grandsire Caters was rung on the back ten of the 16 handbells, followed by ringing at the Cathedral and St. Mary's, which was in a variety of methods up to Spliced Surprise. Alverstoke bells were available earlier in the day.
The Ringing World No. 2049, July 14th, 1950, page 441