The service had been conducted at such a brisk pace that there was a 20-minute breathing space before the business meeting itself got under way in the Church Hall. The Master, Roger Savory, welcomed the ringers, whose number was now something over 100, to Bishop's Waltham. To save time this year, the minutes of the last A.G.M. had been duplicated and this procedure seemed to meet with general approval.
After the gathering had stood in memory of those members who had died during the previous year, Mr. K. S. B. Croft was called upon to report on the Guild's finances, which he did, rendering the most abstruse fiscal calculations intelligible to the layman. The Master suggested, as we were still on monetary matters, that we jump ahead to the other financial items on the agenda, but this was heavily defeated when put to the vote, the company preferring the sequence of the written word to a logical train of thought.
The Librarian delivered, by proxy, a brief report which was questioned from various quarters on whether certain C.C. publications had been purchased. The following report was that of the Lincoln C.C. Meeting. We were all able to gauge the extreme length and far-ranging nature of that meeting by Geoff Dodd's skeletal analysis which lasted a good 20 minutes and constituted his usual droll and colourful report.
Graham Nabb, our Report Secretary, who had produced the best report for years and had disseminated them with commendable promptness was, believe it or not, subjected to a grilling examination, as various members posed questions and delivered criticism. He withstood the barrage well, during which time he stressed the fact that the Guild could not produce a similar report next year if there was no increase in the income to the Central Fund.
JOSTLING, NODDING HEADS
This led directly into the next section of business, namely a proposition to increase the annual subscription from 50p to £1. Lively discussion ensued, with differing views being expressed, but the meeting seemed well behind the treasurer's proposition, and on a show of hands it was overwhelmingly carried. A burst of excited conversation arose from the sea of jostling, nodding heads as the meeting realised what it had done.
As the Master tried to bring order out of this chaos, he was rudely interrupted by the ring of the alarm-clock on the top table which had been set for 5 p.m., signifying the tea-break. Before we adjourned, however, the election of five honorary life members was approved by the meeting, viz.: Messrs. C. E. Bassett, D. T. Matkin, F. E. Collins, A. V. Davis and E. J. Whitfield. The first two were presented with inscribed silver Guild badges, in recognition of their outstanding services rendered to our Guild.
During tea, a raffle was held in aid of the Bell Restoration Fund (BRF), several prizes being offered, including a pair of lady's tights which Mr. Croft won amidst derisive cheers and cat-calls, which were indeed an effusion of the corporate spirit of our 100 enthusiastic ringers.
People were reluctant to re-enter the Church Hall for more business, but were content to bask in the sun outside, discussing how badly or how well the Master was conducting the business and relishing other such gossip. Finally enticed inside the BRF and requests for grants were discussed. The treasurer was able to state, that the BRF was now over £2,000 and commended people's ingenuity in devising fund-raising activities for it. Encouraged by this news, various members pressed for a doubling of the grants in question, and a general increase in grants to churches. A warning note was struck at this junction when it was suggested that members were beginning to speak as though we owned the churches and bells. A howl of protest revealed the dire nature of the warning. Looking back on this area of the business, the aphorism that "success breeds factions" took on a tangible form.
In conclusion, after 3¼ hours of business, notices about the annual dinner, striking competition and ringing course, and discussion of the Centenary celebrations, showed that we have a full year ahead and fuller ones to follow.
So off we went, to ply the ropes and taste the hops, all impressed, I am sure, by the excellence of the arrangements, supervised by E. W. Colley, and the liveliness of the meeting contributed to by so many members of all ages and ably controlled by our Master.
The Ringing World No. 3351, July 18, 1975, page 595