The first Saturday in July is normally reserved for the A.G.M. of the guild, for by tradition the weather always provides the best it can offer. A baking hot summer’s day on the Isle of Wight is of little use to ringers denied the usual transport, and so, some months ago, the Christchurch and Southampton District planned a full day’s outing for those attending the A.G.M. on July 3. At 9 a.m. 50 members were on board the “Cowes Castle” as it slipped slowly into Cowes through the collection of sailing craft and greeted with a volley of cannon fire from the Royal Yacht Club. It was, however, the start of the round-the-island race.
Shepherded by Messrs. J. Hartless and K. Croft, everyone enjoyed good striking with a variety of basic methods in a well-adhered-to schedule around the towers in the south, and other members travelled via car ferry, hovercraft and hydrofoil round the northern towers.
At 14.30 hours all converged upon the church that stands out so clearly as a landmark upon the skyline of Ryde, and in the church hall the business of the 1971 A.G.M. was smoothly and efficiently covered.
The master (Mr. R. R. Savory), wearing his badge of office, welcomed the members. It was appropriate, he said, that they should meet on the island, for 50 years ago the A.G.M. held at Winchester (July 4, 1921) confirmed the setting up of an Isle of Wight District. He congratulated the district on their Ringing World cover and article on Godshill the previous month. Dr. J. B. Williamson, a member 50 years ago and the present district chairman, welcomed the guild on this 50th birthday and presented the master with a bell-shaped gavel and block. The meeting gave a spontaneous indication of its gratitude.
The agenda of 25 items was the largest yet, and Mr. Savory gave a masterly display of how to chair a meeting. The financial state could be regarded as only just satisfactory and it was pointed out that investments were providing a poor return. The guild treasurer (Mr. K. S. B. Croft) could do much better elsewhere. The peal record was encouraging, several outstanding items being detailed by the peal recorder (Mr. D. T. Matkin). The total of 150 is the greatest ever, as is the number of peals on tower bells (129). The Croft family, of Southampton, received special mention for their handbell successes. The leading peal ringer and conductor, Mr. G. K. Dodd, successfully completed a pre-A.G.M. peal the previous evening in the Andover area.
The meeting expressed dismay at the reception by the Central Council of the peals of Caters rung on the only ring of nine bells in the world (All Saints’, Basingstoke), following the reports of Messrs. Davis, Hartless and Savory.
The retiring general secretary (Mr. D. J. Forder) in his report stated that the guild seemed in a very healthy state. A.G.M.s were well attended, the annual dinner was an outstanding success, the striking competition was now a regular feature of guild events and the peal record was a worthy one.
The master thanked the secretary for his efforts over the past six years. Officers elected for the triennial period produced few changes: general secretary, Mr. D. C. Jackson; treasurer, Mr. K. S. B. Croft; peal recorder, Mr. D. T. Matkin; librarian, Mr. M. J. Butler; auditor, Mr. L. Bailey. C.C. representatives, elected by ballot, were: Messrs. R. R. Savory, J. Hartless, G. K. Dodd and A. V. Davis.
Amidst applause, the meeting unanimously elected Mr. Savory for another term as master. The meeting confirmed the awarding of honorary life membership on Mrs. Ostler (Bramley) and Mr. G. Noakes (Alton). A suggestion from Basingstoke District that Mrs. Sullivan (of Ontario, Canada) be made an honorary life member was agreed.
RESTORATION FUND STARTED
That the ring of six at Cheriton is in such a dangerous state that Taylors are lowering them at the first available opportunity indicates how poorly the guild is prepared for such eventualities. The general fund was barely adequate and could offer little substantial assistance, and it was pointed out that £300 spent on the next triennial report could hardly be justified. The setting up of a guild bell restoration fund was an absolute necessity the meeting agreed. The fund was launched with a substantial sum from the defunct Southampton District. The remainder of the business was left for an adjournment on October 16 at Southampton.
In All Saints’ Church the Rev. S. Dent conducted the service, the lesson was read by the master and the address given by the Archdeacon (Very Rev. T. Scruby). Himself a ringer, he spoke of the Christian virtues of patience and tolerance. Such virtues were essential when dealing with a belfry full of young teenagers, all at various stages of ringing ability. Success depended upon leadership by the most suitable person, who was not necessarily the most competent ringer.
The 14 young men and women who constitute the Ryde band had laid out a buffet tea, organised by Mrs. Jill Reed. Mr. A. V. Davis thanked the district for their 50th birthday spread and thanks were also given to the Ryde band.
Evening ringing presented the master with a real challenge - 80-plus ringers all waiting for a ring. Good use was also made of Dr. Williamson’s unusual set of handbells which are hemispherical and are believed to be unique. Everyone must feel that the coming triennial period is one of great promise, built upon a foundation of past successes. The guild must not, however, complacently pat itself on the back. There is much that needs doing. In June, 1979, the guild celebrates its centenary. What a wonderful “thank you” to the founders if all belfries could then display the enthusiasm, progress and efficiency found at Ryde in 1971.
D. C. J.
The Ringing World No. 3144, July 30, 1971, page 656
The unfinished agenda of the Ryde A.G.M. took the special general meeting on October 16 another three hours to complete. Meeting in the Assembly Hall of King Edward VI School, by kind permission of the headmaster, a rather reduced attendance showed by their participation that sections of the agenda were very controversial. It was also clear that separate items were also very interconnected.
A detailed account was given by Mr. D. J. Forder of the investigation by the sub-committee into reports produced by territorial guilds. With the aid of a blackboard he outlined the vast sums of money involved nowadays in printing reports. Although committed to producing a final triennial report, it had been clear at the A.G.M. that members were dissatisfied with the idea of spending £300 plus (all our funds in hand) on a traditional layout, while being able to afford only £25 towards the restoration of a ring of bells. The meeting unanimously agreed that the final triennial report be produced with all the economies in layout outlined in Mr. Forder’s account. It also unanimously indicated that in future an annual report incorporating all possible economies should be printed as cheaply as possible. However, this item requires a change of rule to be accepted at the 1972 A.G.M. before a final decision can be made.
Although it was initially thought that a rise in subscriptions was linked entirely to the cost of the guild report, it eventually became clear that, due to inflation, the work of the districts would soon be seriously affected if funds were not soon increased. It was also felt that most adults these days expected to pay a membership fee to societies, guilds and unions in terms of pounds rather than in new pence. The original guild membership fee in 1880 was worth more than 50p in terms of money value. It was eventually decided that increases should be effected and then the A.G.M.’s could decide retrospectively its contribution to an annual report, to a bell restoration fund or to other contingencies. The proposed alterations in subscriptions were amended to allow a reduced subscription for older ringers. With only one vote against, the following change in subscriptions were agreed: Associate membership 50p per annum; life associate membership £5; ringing membership 50p per annum; junior membership 15p per annum; compounding membership 50p: ringing members over 65 years of age shall pay a minimum of 25p per annum.
The proposal to increase affiliation fees to 75p brought a reaction against the existence of this historic anomaly, and it was unanimously agreed to discontinue all affiliation fees. The rise in the peal fee from 2½p to 5p was less controversial after it had been stated that to print them in R.W. style it would cost 7½p per ringer, in quarter peal style 5p per ringer. The opinion of peal ringers present being that peals and names of ringers should continue to appear in guild reports resulted in the increase being accepted with only one vote against.
Mr. K. S. B. Croft gave an interim report of the work performed by the sub-committee in formulating a bell restoration fund. Details will be submitted to the Executive Committee and it is hoped that the 1972 A.G.M. will confirm the proposed rules and administration.
The popularity of peals of Caters at All Saints’, Basingstoke, and the confusion exhibited by members of the Central Council produced much discussion. Correspondence in The Ringing World and the fact that a decision was taken over previous Cater peals by the Central Council without an official report by the Peals Analysis Committee evoked much feeling. It was overwhelmingly decided to offer support to the guild’s Central Council representatives in raising an amendment to Decisions on Peals in order that the uniqueness of peals of Caters on All Saints’ bells be consequently recognised.
D. C. J.
The Ringing World No. 3161, November 26, 1971, page 1012