THE annual meeting of the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild at Basingstoke on July 2nd was well attended, all Districts of the Guild being represented, together with visitors from Chilvers Coton, Beaconsfield, Checkendon and Salisbury. The bells at many of the surrounding towers were available during the day. and the Guild's service was held in St. Michael's Church, conducted by the Archdeacon of Basingstoke. The address was given by the Rev. D. A. Oliphant, Vicar of Yateley.
A meat tea was provided in Church Cottage after which the general meeting was held presided over by the Master (Mr. G. Pullinger) and supported by the general secretary (Mr. F. W. Rogers) and general treasurer (Mr. R. A. Reed). The Master welcomed the visitors on behalf of the Guild and made special mention of the presence of those ringers from various towers who are now attached to Southampton University and take an active part in the Guild's affairs. Apologies expressing their inability to attend were received from several members.
The minutes of the last annual meeting were read and accepted, the general secretary expressing his regret that owing to unforeseen circumstances the printers had not been able to distribute the annual reports in order that members could have been in possession of them before the meeting.
In the absence of the report, copies of the accounts were passed round and exhibited whilst the treasurer explained the items in detail. An improvement in the Guild's financial position was revealed, showing a balance of £133, excluding investments in Defence Bonds and War Savings and moneys held by District secretaries. He attributed the improvement to (1) decrease in cost of reports by adopting an abridged form; (2) no schemes entailing expense; (3) slightly increased membership; (4) increase in dues from Districts. He was pleased to report that the juvenile membership of the Guild was now over 60. The report, as circulated, was adopted.
The general secretary read the joint report of the Guild officers.
From reports received from the various Districts quite a useful and encouraging year had been spent, which must have given the District secretaries a considerable amount of satisfaction, especially in the knowledge that the juvenile membership was steadily increasing. A special word of praise was due to the Andover District in increasing its ringing members by 36 and honorary members by 11, also to the Basingstoke District, which reported an increase of 26 ringing members. It was to be hoped that this would be spread over all Districts during the coming year.
The overall membership showed a slight decrease but with a united effort this could be remedied to show a definite increase.
The finances had shown a greater stability during the year, due in no small measure to the decision to economise on annual reports, which showed a saving of £29. A further supply of badges was obtained but due to steady sales a profit was shown on the Trading Account, together with Guild certificates. Little restoration work had been reported during the year but the Guild wished success to Preston Candover in their effort to recast and augment their bells, and also to Old Alresford where it was hoped to raise sufficient funds to rehang the present ring.
An inspection of the statistics presented by the recorder of peals showed that a varied and useful year had been spent. The District secretaries reported that more quarter peals had been rung, many for Sunday services.
"It is to be hoped that members will support their District secretary with their presence at District meetings. In many cases these meetings would have met with little success had they not been supported by ringers outside of the Districts, much as their presence is both welcomed and appreciated. We should like to commend to all the desirability of supporting our only national journal, 'The Ringing World.' The editor and editorial committee have a difficult task in covering all aspects and catering for all tastes in our art, but we are sure that ringing would suffer a severe set-back if, through lack of support, it had to cease publication.
"We much appreciated the portrait of the late Master (Mr. George Williams), which our late treasurer (Mr. W. Linter) presented to the Guild."
The recorder of peals (Mr. N. Hayes), in presenting his report, said that during 1954, 48 tower bell and 17 handbell peals had been rung compared with 52 and 14 respectively in 1953. Ten new methods for the Guild had been rung, among them Southwell and Winchester Surprise, being the first ever rung. For the first time peals had been rung on the bells at Baughurst and Kingsclere. The peals recorder intimated that he would not be seeking re-election, and after the meeting had accepted his report he was heartily thanked for his past services in connection with this office.
The librarian (the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead), in his report, mentioned that the handbells needed an overhaul of straps, and the meeting empowered the Executive to invite tenders for renewal of straps and to proceed with the work if the estimate was considered reasonable.
A report of the Central Council proceedings at Bristol was presented by one of the Guild's representatives, Mr. C. H. Kippin, and supported by the other three representatives who attended the meeting.
The Master (Mr. George Pullinger) expressed his definite wish to relinquish his office. He said he would be retiring soon in private life and he considered that now was the time to make the change. Mr. Kippin proposed that a record be placed in the minutes of the great work done by the Master, and this was endorsed by the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead. Mr. N. Andrews proposed that the Master's work be recognised in a fitting manner by electing him a vice-president of the Guild. This was received with acclamation, and Mr. Pullinger feelingly responded and thanked the members for the honour bestowed on him.
The general secretary had given his intention to resign from his present office for some months, and the members, on the proposition of Mr. Kippin, invited him to accept the vacant Mastership. After some consideration he agreed to the nomination and as there were no other nominations he was elected Master. In thanking the meeting for their confidence, he paid a personal tribute to the work done by Mr. Pullinger for the Guild, both as Master and before that as general secretary, and trusted that he (personally) would be able to serve the Guild equally as efficiently as his predecessors.
Mr. J. A. C. King (Winchester) was invited to accept the post of general secretary. He said that if it was the wish of the members he would be happy to serve in that capacity. He was unanimously elected.
Mr. R. A. Reed was re-elected general treasurer, Mr. L. Bailey general auditor, and the Rev. K. W. H. Felstead librarian. Mr. J. M. Lakin was elected in place of Mr. N. Hayes as recorder of peals.
It was decided to hold the next annual general meeting at Ryde, Isle of Wight, on July 7th, 1956.
A suggestion to hold the annual general meetings alternately in each District of the Guild was referred to the Executive for consideration, as it would necessitate amending Rule 5.
The Rev. C. E. C. Brinkworth announced that the restored bells at Preston Candover would be opened to ringers on October 22nd. Mr. King appealed for the restoration being carried out on the six bells at Old Alresford and a sum of five guineas was granted from the Special Purposes Fund to this project. Mr. Brinkworth also mentioned that a scheme was afoot to restore Brown Candover bells.
At the conclusion of the business votes of thanks were accorded Mr. J. Chesterman, Mr. and Mrs. Austin, the ladies who officiated at tea and the, organists and incumbents of all churches who had granted the use of their bells to the members.
The bells of the various churches were again made use of during the evening.
The Ringing World No. 2312, July 22, 1955, page 458