THE annual general meeting held at Winchester on July 3rd was of special significance, being the 75th anniversary of the formation of the former Winchester Diocesan Guild (founded June 26th, 1879). Despite the unsettled weather over 100 members were present, representing the eight Districts of the Guild, and, in addition, several ringers from outside the Guild's area.
At the business meeting in St. Maurice's Hall, the Master (Mr. G. Pullinger), who was supported by the hon. secretary (Mr. F. W. Rogers) and hon. treasurer (Mr. R. A. Reed), extended a welcome to all the visitors who had taken the opportunity to attend.
The meeting expressed its appreciation of the work undertaken and completed by the hon. secretary in connection with both the George Williams Memorial and the Guild War Memorial.
Arising out of the minutes of the last annual meeting directing that the question of whether or not a full report should be printed, should be deferred for twelve months, it was reported that owing to the still further reduction in the Guilds finances, the Executive Committee had been compelled to decide that only an abridged report should be published this year. The meeting endorsed the committee's action.
The hon. treasurer, in explaining the balance sheet, stated that the balance had been reduced from £249 to £196 but during the year sums of £25 18s. 10d. and £29 11s. were transferred from the Central Fund to the George Williams Memorial and Guild War Memorial schemes respectively. As the committee had stated, the annual reports were still a costly item (compared with the 1934 report, at 4½d. per member, the 1952 report worked out at 1s. 6½d.). By printing an abridged report for 1953, it would represent 8¾d. per report. Despite the economies effected and contemplated, the treasurer stressed that the only real solution was a drive to get an increased membership.
The report of the Master, hon. general secretary and hon. general treasurer stated that the past year had seen the fulfilment of two schemes for which the Guild was to be congratulated. The George Williams Memorial Library was completed and dedicated in May, on the anniversary of the late Master's birthday, and the War Memorial panels, which had been added as wings to the previous panel, were completed and dedicated in November.
Reports from the various Districts indicated that activity was on the increase and, on the whole, a useful year had been spent. Compared with the previous year the membership had remained fairly steady. Honorary membership was 81 compared with 89 in 1952, ringing membership 591 (592), compounding 15 (20). Two or three years ago ringing members totalled over 700. "We must strive to regain our former membership."
Peal ringing had showed a marked increase over a wide area; 52 tower bell peals had been rung compared with 30 in 1952. Although handbell peals had dropped from 17 to 14, it more than compensated to know that the Bournemouth handbell band had secured for the Guild the honour of holding the record lengths of Grandsire Caters and Bob Royal.
The peal recorder's report stated that 156 members took part in 52 tower- and 14 hand-bell peals, 16 ringing their first peal. There were 26 conductors among them, D. T. Matkin with 12 handbell peals and C. H. Kippin with 11 tower bell peals. Double Oxford Bob Major was rung for the first time for the Guild and there were two record lengths by the Bournemouth handbell band (mentioned above). Mr. C. H. Kippin, one of the Guild's representatives on the Central Council, presented a lengthy report of the Council meeting held at Newcastle at Whitsun, and the general secretary expressed his apology to the meeting in not being able to represent the Guild on that occasion.
The election of officers resulted as follows:- Master, Mr. G. Pullinger; hon. secretary, Mr. F. W. Rogers; hon. treasurer, Mr. R. A. Reed; hon. auditor, Mr. L. Bailey; hon. librarian, Rev. K. W. H. Felstead; recorder of peals, Mr. N. Hayes.
A discussion took place on how the Guild could give practical help towards the suggestions offered by "The Ringing World" Committee in endeavouring to improve the position of that journal. Some of the Districts had appointed a representative whose duty was to persuade their members to support and obtain new readers for the paper, and it was hoped this effort would bear fruit.
Eventually it was agreed to send the following resolution to the secretary of the Central Council:- "That as an immediate measure to secure the maximum income from the present circulation, distribution of 'The Ringing World' be made through the post only, and supplies to subscribers through newsagents discontinued."
Owing to the demand for Guild badges and the low stock in hand it was agreed to order a further supply of 300 brooch-type. In order to conserve further the Guild finances it was agreed to print the annual report for next year in the abridged form now in circulation.
The venue of the next annual general meeting was selected as Basingstoke on July 2nd, 1955.
The Guild service was held in St. Maurice's Church, at which the Bishop of Winchester was present.
At the tea which followed the Bishop joined the company, where an iced anniversary cake was supplied by an anonymous donor, each ringer present receiving a portion. At the conclusion the Master gave a résumé of the past 75 years of the existence of the Guild and its parent society. Mr. Lampard (Winchester Cathedral) was the oldest member present. Mr. W. Linter (late hon. treasurer) presented a portrait of the late Master (Mr. George Williams), which was accepted as a valuable contribution to the library.
Votes of thanks were extended to the various incumbents for the use of their bells and to the anonymous donor of the birthday cake.
The Ringing World No. 2259, July 23, 1954, page 474