The popularity of this Dinner was yet again underlined by the complete sell-out of tickets within four weeks of the initial December advertisement, and those fortunate enough to acquire tickets were treated to the usual high standard of fare and service by the staff of the Royal Hotel, Southampton. Welcoming members and friends, the newly-installed Bishop of Southampton (Rt. Rev. J. Kingsmill Cavell) thanked the Guild for inviting him to maintain the office of Vice-President. Speaking warmly of the outstanding qualities of his previous tower captain, Mr. Tom Meyers, he hoped that visiting bands would always be made as welcome as they were at St. Andrew's, Plymouth. "This is a time of great change," he continued, "and those occurring in the Church could readily affect the future of its bell-ringers." We were reminded that the General Synod of the Church of England would soon be revising the Pastoral Measures. Various learned societies have communicated to ensure that their own historical items are safeguarded in redundant churches, but at present there is nothing written in to protect or preserve the bells.
In proposing the toast of "The Guild", Mr. Rodney B. Meadows reflected on his school-days at King Edward's, Southampton, of his early ringing days in Bournemouth, and of the Guild Master in short trousers ringing in his (Mr. Meadows') first peal. Referring to the R.W. account of the past A.G.M., he commented that no Guild who organised so many activities could be accused of wallowing in the past. He was particularly attracted to the challenge to ensure that all Guild towers should be able to ring at least rounds and call-changes by the centenary year. "And then there's this Basingstoke business." [Laughter!] Comparing it to the frustrated village policeman, who has at long last caught a wrong-doer, albeit only a minor one on a bicycle without a rear light, authority has been applied with full force simply because it has found a rule that has been contravened. On the logic of the case the proposition put to the 1973 C.C. Meeting must surely be adopted, and on this point the toast to "The Guild" was taken.
Replying on behalf of the Guild, Mrs. Gilian Davis, secretary, Christchurch and Southampton District, reminded us of the purpose in the establishment of Guilds. In two words this was "Belfry reform". To those who suggested that this was accomplished in the initial 30 years, she stated that it was an aim that would always have a challenge for the future. Our own Guild could help advancement of change-ringing in the Channel Islands; encourage neighbouring towers everywhere to combine forces and provide mutual assistance; organise special practices for those just entering the Exercise; find other ways to support and encourage the Bell Restoration Fund; attempt new aims in peal ringing, as with the recent long length of Cambridge Major; consider how best we can give service as practical church workers.
Mr. Meadows had called us a lively Guild, she said, and any credit is due to the diligence and enthusiasm of the officers. In particular the growth of our Bell Restoration Fund to over £300 since July 1972 was a reflection on Guild activity. As church workers, some bands had brought their clergy to meet the Guild at this Dinner. With the recent establishment of the See of Basingstoke it was hoped that a fourth Bishop would soon accept Guild Office. As ex-vicar of St. Peter's, Bournemouth, his consecration had been marked by a peal of Stedman, but only on 8 bells!
Underlining this latter point, a course of Stedman Triples was then rung in hand by Messrs. Wm. Croft, K. S. B. Croft, D. T. Matkin and J. Croft, utilising the very melodious set of handbells owned by Mr. A. V. Davis.
Mr. Philip Murduck, chairman, Andover District, proposed "The Visitors". Regaling us with a host of stories and anecdotes (of varying colours and hues!), he concentrated on the "other bodies" who compete for our ringer's attention. Referring to the non-ringing wife, he commented that 99 out of a 100 husbands always make the same mistake; they give up ringing rather than the wife! About parents, he asked how many tower captains took the trouble to visit parents of young recruits; to give them details of a ringer's commitments; to let them see him; to answer their questions; to invite them up to the tower? The general public also compete, particularly when there is bad ringing, or when ringing goes on for hours in built-up areas, without adequate sound-proofing. Ringers also tend to compete amongst themselves on rather trivial matters, and how much better it would be if we presented a united front with other church-workers, so that positive action replaced petty disagreements.
AT SHORT NOTICE
The retiring Bishop of Southampton was unfortunately not able to attend, and the gathering was saddened to hear that this was due to the recent death of Mrs. Lamplugh. Speaking at very short notice, the Rector of Southampton (Rev. R. Milner) commented that it was a change actually to be able to say something to ringers. Since his family became ardent members of the belfry he paid a weekly call, but found that not only did ringers never let him get a word in edgeways, but the very walls of the belfry seemed to vibrate with their activity! Of course there is always a ringer's home, where one is always welcome, but usually has to converse in whispers because somewhere there is some handbell ringing. In the most comfortable surroundings of the Royal Hotel he was at long last able to thank ringers on behalf of the clergy for their activity in the Church, and for their hospitality.
Following the formal part of the evening, those who did not have to make for the far corners of Hampshire were able to relax in the reception room, where facilities were enhanced by a private bar with a late extension.
D. C. J.
The Ringing World No. 3242, June 15, 1973, page 484