2015 has been another busy year in the Guild, with new initiatives being instigated and new personnel joining the various Guild committees. There was much celebratory ringing for the national anniversaries of VE Day, the sealing of Magna Carta and the Battle of Waterloo, and also for the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest reigning British monarch on 9 September. 2015 also saw the 300th anniversary of the first true peal with many Guild members joining in the First Peal 2015 initiative, either to ring their first peal or in supporting those who wished to do so.
At the AGM in July the Guild Action Plan, drawn up by the Master and Vice-Master and supported by the Guild Executive Committee, was accepted by the membership. This is a wide ranging document produced to provide a focus of the future direction and aims of the Guild over the next few years. As part of this, the proposal to reduce the proportion of subscriptions going to the BRF to £2 was accepted, which means more cash is retained by districts and more is available for other important future projects in the fields of education and communication. It was agreed so subsidise those members wishing to attend a ringing teacher training course, and also to set up a new Guild website.
2015 saw the end of the triennial period for the Guild Committees, and elections were held at the AGM. Thanks were expressed to all those who were retiring from the committees, especially those who in some cases had served for many years. New members were elected to the Belfry Stewardship, Education and Communications committees, but they could all use the skills of any other members who would like to join them.
Two members were conferred with life membership in 2015, John Dodd of Bishopstoke after completing 50 years of membership and John Colliss of Winchester Cathedral, who was elected a life member at the AGM for his many and varied services to the Guild. John was elected a member in 1966, but attended his first AGM two weeks before his election and has attended every AGM since, making 2015 his 50th consecutive annual meeting. The 6 bell Inter-Tower striking and the Inter-District 10 bell competitions this year were cancelled through lack of entries, but the 8 bell Inter-Tower competition was won by Catherington and the Inter-District 8 bell contest by the Portsmouth District.
In 2015 BRF grants were approved to; Wherwell £3,500, Ecchinswell £2,500.
The 200 Club was finally wound up after the November Executive meeting with a bumper draw which saw the top prize of £300 go to Roger Barber of Hawkley. Twenty other prizes ranging from £250 to £50 were also made. Many thanks must go to Mark Esbester who has managed the club since its inception, and to those members who supported this fund-raising initiative over the years which has raised well over £17,000 for the BRF. It is hoped that a new club will be set up in its place in 2016.
As usual I would like to thank all the District Secretaries for their help over the past year.