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Eastern Branch AGM - 25th January 2014

Since I was hors de combat with my shoulder and thus unable to ring, I didn't turn up at bang on 11:00, instead arriving at about 11:30, having come into Friskney down the longest bumpiest fen road known to man.

Ringing at All Saints, Friskney
Ringing at All Saints, Friskney

It wasn't a warm day, but it was much colder in All Saint's church. I went up to the ringing gallery and watched a bit of ringing before going down into the church for a chat with the vicar, the Revd Fiona Cotton-Betteridge. She was in the process of choosing some hymns for the service. Would I like to help? Oh. OK then. We ended up with "Ding Dong Merrily", "To God be the Glory" and "Great is thy Faithfulness". The service was led by the Revd Fiona Cotton-Betteridge who preached a sermon on bells and on how bells should be disturbing, by stirring up the Holy Spirit in those who hear them. The organ was played by one of the Branch members, Louis Watson from Boston, who played one of the Handel Marches after the service.

The Service now completed we walked down the road to the Village Hall for some food (and warmth!). Lunch consisted of Sausage Pie with Braised Red Cabbage, Mashed Potato, Carrots and Peas. For dessert there was a choice of Black Forest Gateaux, Trifle, or Apple Crumble and Custard, followed by tea and coffee. After the raffle had been drawn (raising £44) the meeting started with apologies for absence.

Before the Service

The Minutes of the 2013 AGM had been circulated previously and were approved by the members

Matters arising

Bennington church is still closed pending re-opening. Any ringing that takes place has got to be coordinated with the committee that are handling the closure. They are amenable to ringing taking place, but would prefer it to be coordinated with events held by The Bennington Community Heritage Trust, so that the event will be more significant.

Election of new members

There were 2 new members elected from Alford, these being Sally Rowan and Tia Moroney.

Secretary's Report - Simon Pearson

2013 was not filled with the great events of 2012, but was still an enjoyable year for the Branch. Ian Ansell organised a very successful outing to the Wisbech area, which was well attended and had a high standard of ringing. The BBQ was also well attended. The Race Night was also very successful. The Branch meetings at Swineshead and Freiston were also very enjoyable. The quarter peal week was disappointing with only 2 being rung. This will require some additional focus in 2014. Branch practices have generally been well attended. One of the Secretary's favourites was the new Minor Methods Focus practice at Freiston, which concentrated on a single method, in this case Single Court, to help improve the ringing standards and scope. It is hoped to extend this approach in 2014 to include a wider range of methods. The Branch gained several new members during the year, but was saddened by the loss of John Pratt who learnt to ring at Alford. 2014 will be a year of change as the Guild Review receives greater focus which will hopefully promote and enhance the work of the Guild and bellringing in general.

The Meeting in Progress

Treasurer's Report -Val Wild

The Treasurer thanked Rhoda Reynolds for inspecting the accounts. The annual subscription remains the same in 2013 and will do so again in 2014. Members are encouraged to use the Membership Gift Aid forms, so that the Guild can claim the tax back. Membership of the Eastern Branch remains static. New members are always welcome. The BBQ at Sibsey was the main BRF fundraiser, raising £500, with £175 raised at meetings. One grant of £198 has been paid out in 2013 to Ingoldmells for new ropes. There are no requests for grants at present. The Race Night at Surfleet raised £340 and it is hoped to repeat it again this year. Also £241 worth of Guild Christmas Cards and Calendars have been sold to raise money for the BRF.

The accounts were adopted by the members.

Guild Review - Alan Payne

Alan Payne (Guild Master) spoke briefly on the subject of the Guild Review. He has received quite a number of responses to the white papers which were circulated to the members. These responses will be included in the proposals that will be put forward at the AGM. There is still if any more members wish to submit responses.

Maintenance team Report - Mick Smith

It has been a quiet year for the Maintenance team, although there may be some assistance required this year at Eastfield and West Keale. There is some re-wiring work going on at Boston Stump. It is hoped it won't affect the Branch meeting there in March.

Fund raising

Phil Ford was not present, but to summarise, the Race Night was very profitable and a big thank you goes to Phil Ford for the effort he has put in to make this a success.

Grants Repairs and Rehangs - none

Election of Officers

Mick Smith is standing down as Maintenance Team Leader. Tony Barker was voted in as his replacement. Val Wild has been doing the job of Branch Webmaster as well as that of Treasurer. However Mark Hibbard has also been doing a lot of the work on the website recently and Val is happy to defer the position of Webmaster to him.

The position with regard to Branch Officers is therefore as follows.

President: Edward Vear
Vice President: John Collett
Secretary: Simon Pearson
Treasurer: Val Wild
Inspector of accounts: Rhoda Reynolds
Ringing Master: Caitlin Meyer
Asst Ringing Master: Joanne French
Maintenance Team Leader: Tony Barker
Branch Safeguarding Officer: Edward Vear
Branch Webmaster: Mark Hibbard
Guild Fundraising: Phil Ford
Guild Committee Rep: Mick Smith

Programme of events

The Programme of Events for 2014 were circulated amongst the members. A lot of the events are confirmed, but there are still some that are subject to confirmation. The Evensong ringing at the Cathedral last year was a joint venture with the Southern Branch and this worked very well. The intention is to join with the Southern Branch again this year and also with the Elloe Deaneries. There was some discussion about moving the date of the AGM next year. There are 5 Saturday's next January. Does the AGM want to be on the 4th or 5th Saturday? Having the AGM in the middle of the day is very useful for members who want to attend evening AGMs in other Branches. After some discussion it came down to having the AGM either the last Saturday in January (be it the 4th or 5th Saturday) or the first Saturday in February. Having it earlier gives more time to get the reports to the Guild Report Editor. It went to a vote and it was voted that it should be the last Saturday in January by a ratio of about 5:1.

Any Other Business

There hasn't been any discussion about the Outing or BBQ. It was confirmed that they are going ahead as planned. The discussion on the Guild AGM format was not possible as no documents on the subject were available. Caitlin Meyer thanked the members for their support at the Single Court method ringing day at Frieston in January 2013. It seemed very successful and she is anticipating extending the idea to more methods.

The President thanked everyone for coming and gave a special thanks to the ladies who did the tea.

The meeting was then closed.

Further ringing took place at All Saints Church, but I had to leave to attend the Southern Branch AGM.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)