1. Opening Prayer and Welcome

    The Master, Rev. Barry Fry, supported by the Honorary General Secretary, Robert Cater, the Honorary General Treasurer, Michael Bubb and the Minute Secretary, Judy Bishop, opened the meeting at 14.45 with a prayer and thanked all those involved in the day's arrangements. He particularly welcomed ringers from the Channel Islands and Isle of Wight Districts.

  2. Apologies for Absence

    Marie Boniface, Michael Church, John Croft, Gilian Davis, Les Duguid, The Eling Band, Derek and Ruth Jackson, Francis Mitchell, Maurice Stupart, Barbara Townsend, Ernest and Enid Treagus, Martin Waldron, Mavis Whitehead, Mike Winterbourne and Caroline Wright.

  3. Loss of Members through Death since 1998 AGM

    The meeting stood in silence to remember Charles E. Causton (Shorwell), Jack Dodds (Fordingbridge), Andrew Gaskin (Bishopstoke & Hordle), Anne Guy (LM) (Freshwater), Outram Haythorne (LM) (Shedfield, Winchester Cathedral & others), Colin Hitchin (All Saints, Basingstoke), Edna Jones (Southsea & Portsmouth), Gwynne Jones (Hurstbourne Priors), Richard Joyce (Micheldever) and Joan Woodbridge (Greywell).

  4. Minutes of the 1998 AGM

    Minutes of the 1998 AGM held at Highclere Village Hall had been circulated. Item 12. Election of Officers, f. Honorary Report Editor was amended to read "Tony Smith was proposed by Peter Clarke and seconded by John Davey." The minutes were then approved and signed by the Master.

  5. Matters Arising

    The Alton and Petersfield District Open Day held on 5 April raised £821 for the BRF. Grateful thanks were expressed to all those who had made this possible.

  6. Honorary Life Members

    Blanche M. Hunt was congratulated on becoming a Life Member under the "50 years membership rule" and was warmly thanked for her contribution to ringing over the years. It was suggested that there should be a certificate for Life Members.

  7. Officers' and Sub-Committees' Reports for 1998

    Tony Smith apologised for errors in the Guild Report for 1998. The figures for the Guild Dinner in the Social Committee's report had now been reconciled. There were no questions and the reports were adopted.

  8. Guild Accounts for 1998

    Michael Bubb explained the large deficit was due to payment made to the 2000 Group. However £800 would not be used this year. The rise in Guild subscriptions at the last AGM will be reflected in the 1999 accounts. Adoption of the accounts was proposed by Mark Esbester and seconded by John Davey. A meeting of District Treasurers will be held after the next Executive Committee meeting at 14.30 on 25 November, 1999.

  9. BRF Accounts for 1998

    Michael Bubb noted that there were few covenantors. If more people could be encouraged to give this way it would be of considerable benefit to the BRF. Adoption of the accounts was proposed by Phil Watts and seconded by Phil Lenfesty and carried.

  10. Report of the 1999 Central Council Meeting in Lincoln

    The report was circulated at the meeting (now attached) and there were no questions. Mark Esbester congratulated our Representatives for their involvement in the Central Council committees and thanked them all for their work on our behalf.

  11. Bell Restoration Fund Matters

    Mark Esbester reviewed previously awarded grants as follows:

    St. George, Arreton - (£3000) - the work is progressing in stages. The new bell to replace the existing 4th will be cast later this year, with the whole project scheduled to be completed by 2002. It was reaffirmed that the grant cannot be paid until the whole job is completed.

    All Saints, Botley - (£4750) - fund raising is progressing, having reached approximately £36000. No date for completion is known at present.

    St. Peter, Brown Candover - (£1000) - The work to start in two weeks.

    St. Martin, Ellisfield - (£1500) - the work is scheduled for late 1999.

    St. Barnabas', Southampton - (£4500) - two bells have been acquired by the local priest (the Guild Master) towards the proposed new ring of six, with a third available. It is possible that the six-bell frame and these three bells will be installed as an interim measure. If the work is undertaken in stages, then it was reaffirmed that no grant can be paid until the whole work is completed.

    St. Saviour-on-the-Cliff, Shanklin - (£2000) - the scope of the work proposed has changed considerably since the grant was approved. As there is a large reduction in the amount of work to be carried out and the time scale is uncertain, Mark Esbester recommended on behalf of the Trustees that the awarded grant be reduced to zero, but with a strong recommendation to the Shanklin ringers that they re-apply for a grant when the exact nature of the work is finalised and the likely time scale is known.

    All Hallows, Whitchurch - (£5000) - the final stage of the work is to be carried out in the very near future.

    Mark Esbester then reviewed two fresh requests for grants:

    All Saints, Alton - the project is to remove the existing 12 cwt ring of three dating from 1882-95, all of which are Mears bells but none being listed for preservation and to replace them with a new ring of six, the tenor weighing approximately 6 cwt. They will be hung in a new steel frame with all new fixtures and fittings. It is anticipated that the work will be completed by the summer of 2002. The total cost will be just over £43000. A grant of £4750 is recommended.

    St. Mary's, Southampton - last year work was undertaken to refurbish the bearings at an original cost of £3650. During work however it was found necessary to replace some bearings which were too worn to be reused. This had resulted in an additional cost of £1425 and the responsibility for this part of the cost had been given to the ringers. A grant of £250 is recommended.

    Michael Bubb then spoke of various factors the Trustees propose to adopt henceforth in assessing requests for grants and in making recommendations to AGMs. viz:

    1. Grants should not normally be made for small scale maintenance work.

    2. Districts should be encouraged to contribute towards the cost of these where appropriate.

    3. Grants should be based on present day costs and not allow for inflation for schemes not likely to go ahead for some time. Churches awarded grants can always request a further grant later.

    4. Architects charge for their work in connection with bell schemes in different ways. Some charge a nominal sum whilst others charge as a percentage of the final cost - up to 15%. It was agreed that Architects' fees should not automatically be discounted, and every case considered on its merits. There was however an inclination not to award grants covering large fees.

    5. Work to louvres, trap doors and the like should be included as they relate to acoustics and tower fabric.

    6. Grants will be considered for augmentations.

    7. There should be a time limit placed on grants. In general, the Trustees would only recommend a grant to the Guild AGM when a scheme is thought to be imminent, even if a very early application is made. It will then normally be anticipated that works will be satisfactorily completed within three years of approval of a grant by the AGM. The grant would lapse after three years and fresh application would have to be made unless there were exceptional circumstances.

    Further, in order to place all the outstanding grants on the same footing Michael Bubb recommended that the outstanding grants be also made subject to a three year timescale, starting at this AGM. As virtually all the works relating to previously awarded grants will be completed within three years, this should not cause any significant problem.

    Mark Esbester then formally proposed the various Trustees' recommendations which were seconded by Michael Bubb and carried. There was no dissension to the factors to be employed in assessing requests for grants and in placing a three year time scale on outstanding grants.

  12. Election of Guild Librarian and Archivist

    Kim Matthews the retiring Librarian and Archivist was thanked for all her hard work.

    Jack Walters was proposed by Bob Cater and seconded by Elizabeth Johnson and elected unanimously.

    He had a clear idea of the archival work involved but sought opinions on what was required of the library. Anyone with the free use of a van to help with the Library's move to Winchester Cathedral was asked to contact him.

  13. "Ring in 2000" matters

    Service at noon on 1 January 2000. Bob Cater reported that the Service is to start with five minutes of bell ringing and a Service sheet will be published nationally later in the summer. Though neither the Bishop of Winchester nor the Bishop of Portsmouth is recommending this Service to their clergy, it is hoped that local clergy will decide to hold a Service and if not that the bells will be rung anyway. In the autumn representatives from each District will co-ordinate bells and available ringers.

    Various Millennium celebrations during the year 2000 were suggested by Bob Cater and others:

    1. A certificate be available to all towers and ringers who rang at noon to record the fact.

    2. A Guild peal be rung in all towers and marked "a W & P 2000 Peal" when sent to The Ringing World.

    3. That a Half-peal or Quarter Peal be rung in all towers where a peal is not possible.

    4. All members who can do so to ring a quarter peal and a record kept locally.

    5. A list of all new and "returning" ringers be compiled and sent to The Ringing World

    6. A meeting for Life Members and older members, which Gilian Davis has volunteered to arrange.

    7. A trial to be given to holding "mid-monthly meetings" during weekdays for those who can attend at such times. (Morning tower/pub lunch/afternoon tower).

    8. A Millennium Pilgrimage to the Holy Land - already advertised. The Master hoped that this special tour would be well supported. The travel company arranging the tour is paying all promotion, printing and administration costs and it is hoped, will be able to give a substantial donation to the BRF in due course depending on numbers joining the tour.

    Bob Cater indicated he will be writing to all towers in the autumn about these suggested activities.

    Display Stands. Tony Smith thanked Phil Watts and the Ordnance Survey for the superb quality of the re-vamped display stands. The Central Council Public Relations Committee had been impressed by these stands and asked if some of the material could be given more general use across the whole Exercise.

    Approval was sought by Phil Watts and permission given for the material to be used in this way.

  14. Setting up a Public Relations Committee

    Ian McCallion's proposal for the formation of a Public Relations Subcommittee with the necessary changes to the Guild rules was seconded by Bob Cater and unanimously accepted. The rule changes are attached. The following were elected to the new committee ready for when it comes into being in January: Jennie Brudenell, David Forder, Ian McCallion, Francis Mitchell and Bob Stammers.

  15. Increase in subscriptions for Compounding Members

    Michael Bubb's proposal seconded by Bob Cater, that the Compounding Members subscription be increased to £6.50 of which £1.50 will be transferred to the Guild Bell Restoration Fund was approved.

  16. New category of Guild membership - "Probationary member"

    At present learners are not covered by the Guild insurance until elected a Guild Member but could be if a "learner"class of membership was introduced. After some discussion Mark Esbester proposed that a learner may be elected to Probationary Membership of the Guild in a tower election on being proposed and seconded by two Guild Members (other than Probationary Members), and ratified at the next meeting of the District in which it took place. This was seconded by Michael Bubb and on a vote the proposal was accepted with 4 against and over 50 for. Similarly a vote on the necessary Rule changes (attached) resulted in 2 against and over 50 for. It was then agreed that the subscription for such members be £1.00 per year (zero deduction to BRF ) and to be deductable from a full member's subscription, if the Probationary Member is elected a "full" Member of the Guild in the same calendar year.

    This new class of membership will come into effect in January.

  17. Date and Place of next AGM

    Saturday, 1st July, 2000. It is hoped that as many people as possible will attend the service to be held in the Quire of Winchester Cathedral. The meeting and lunch will be in the Refectory. The day will end with a BBQ at IBM at Hursley.

  18. Future Guild Events

    1. Education Committee events. These have been circulated.

    2. Open Day in 2000. To be held in the Andover District on Monday, 1st May.

    3. Guild Dinner. Provisionally to be held at Winchester Cathedral Refectory on Saturday, 29th April, 2000.

  19. Any Other Business

    Guild Striking Competitions. June Mitchell asked for clarification on the rules governing Guild striking competitions (not District Competitions), in that a band with no Guild Members came third in a recent Guild competition for 6 bell tower bands. After much discussion the Master summed up the prevailing view and referred it to the Striking Competitions Committee, that there was an expectation that ringers in teams entering Guild (not necessarily District) Competitions should be Guild Members.

    Guild polo shirts. June Mitchell said that she still had some polo shirts available for sale for the BRF and that Shanklin bell mugs were still for sale.

    Publicity. Ian McCallion asked that Millennium ringing should continue to receive as much publicity as possible.

    The meeting concluded at 16.35.