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Northern Branch AGM, 24th January 2015

The ringing room from the church
Ringing in progress

I arrived in plenty of time at St. Mary's, Barton on Humber, to ring on their excellent peal of 8 bells. These are predominantly a set of Gillett & Johnston bells with a few Oldfield bells in the mix. Ringing ranged from lots of Rounds and Call Changes, Stedman & Grandsire Triples and Plain & Little Bob.

At 3:45 we sent down into the church for the service, led by the Revd Ivan Howitt. He preached a sermon about human beings basically needing to express themselves and respond to God's love. We may not shout from the rooftop, but the bells we ring shout out from the mountain tops. The lesson was read by the Ringing Master Andrew Lord and the organ was played by his father and Branch Treasurer Roger Lord, who played a Charles Vincent Outgoing Voluntary after the service.

The church from the Ringing room
The members assemble for the service.

After the service we made our way into the church hall for a cold buffet and the usual tea and coffee. Once Everyone had eaten the meeting was brought to order.

The President (Lynda Bromfield) opened the meeting with a short prayer. She then proceeded to welcome the members including some from other branches. She thanked the Barton ringers for hosting the AGM, the Vicar (Revd Ivan Howitt) for conducting the service, Andrew Lord for reading the lesson, Roger Lord for playing the organ and those who had provided the tea. The apologies for absence were then taken.

Cups of tea are distributed to the masses
The members tuck in!

It was reported that the Northern Branch had lost no members this year. However Freda Lacey (a former member) had passed away earlier in the month.

Minutes of the last meeting

The minutes of the last meeting had been circulated in advance and there was no need to read them out. The minutes were accepted by the members with a show of hands. There were no matters arising

Ringing Master's report (Andrew Lord)

The Ringing Master thanked all the towers which had hosted meetings during the previous year. There had been a North of the Humber outing that took place on the Bank Holiday Monday. A Quarter Peal was rung for the Walesby open churches. This is the first time in many years that an entirely Northern Branch band have rung a Quarter Peal on these bells. It was rung to congratulate Frank and Maureen Kennington on their 56th wedding anniversary. Congratulations also go to Frank, Harry Mimms and Hilda Colley for receiving their Royal Honour Certificates from the Dean of Lincoln at the Guild AGM. Only 3 teams entered the branch 6 bell striking competition at Goxhill, these being Grimsby, Tealby & Barton. Grimsby won. The half yearly meeting at Caistor had a reasonable turn out with enough to ring the basic major and triples methods. 17 members rang at the Cathedral in August. Ringing ranged from Rounds on 12 to Little Bob Royal. Grimsby and Tealby competed in the Cup at Nettleham. There was a good turnout at the Candlelit Carol service at with a couple of new faces having a go on the bells. First Quarter Peal congratulations were made to David Sewell (Barrow) and Bethany Chapman (Grimsby). There were many other assorted firsts and ringing milestones that Andrew mentioned. On a personal Note Andrew was honoured to join 7 West Lindsey Branch ringers in the 100th peal on the bells at the former St. John's Church (now the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre) in Scunthorpe. This tower had been a Northern Branch tower in years past when Andrew's Grandfather, Frank Lord, was Tower Captain. Andrew then awarded the Alan Hewitt Shield (an award to the tower that has made the most progress) to Tealby and Claxby who entered a team in both the local branch and the Guild 6 bell striking competition.

Tealby/Claxby are presented with the Alan Hewitt Shield

Treasurer's Report (Roger Lord)

There were 111 members last year this being 95 adults, 10 junior members and 6 non-resident life members. 4 new members had been elected, but 11 had been lost, so a decrease of 7 members from 2013. According to the rule changes introduced at the last Guild AGM, the subs should be paid by March 31st. There is a membership update form, which members are urged to fill out. This means that the branch can contact individual members if necessary. Roger presented figures revealing a healthy set of accounts, despite income from collections and raffles being down from last year. There were no grants applied for in 2014. Roger thanked David Hibbert for examining the accounts. The accounts were accepted by the members

Guild Committee Rep Report (Joy Lord)

There had been 3 committee meetings held during the year. The subs for 2016 will remain unchanged. As agreed at the 2014 AGM, from January 2015 the quota split will change to General Fund 50%, Bell Repair Fund 35% and 15% to be retained by the Branches. At the 2015 AGM it will be proposed that the split be amended to General Fund 50%, Bell Repair Fund 25%, Training Fund 10% and 15% to be retained by the Branches. If approved, this new split will be introduced in January 2016. The Race Night at Surfleet raised £450. The Guild Master has issued papers to all members on the rule changes introduced at the 2014 AGM. Branch Committees are encouraged to set up cluster groups in the area. The Guild Master has outlined suggestions for the rolling retirement of Branch Officers. Job descriptions have been circulated for a Guild PR Officer and a Guild Training Officer. As of yet, no one has accepted either of these roles. Branch reps will no longer attend the Guild Committee meetings in line with the agreement made at the AGM. Robin Heppenstall has been looking at the BRF rules, as it is not clear who can apply for a grant. Robin will seek clarification from the Charities Commission.

The 2015 AGM will be a lengthy one. The itinerary is 0930-1000 Ringing at the Cathedral, 1000-1030 Communion In Ringer's Chapel (actually it will be in the Retrochoir), 1100 AGM at Bailgate Methodist Church. The member will have to make their own arrangements for Lunch. Between 1400 & 1615 instead of ringing at one or two towers it has been suggested that we could hold workshops on such subjects as change ringing on handbells or conducting. Branch Secretaries have been asked to canvass member's opinions on the subject and then feed this back to the Guild Secretary, so suitable arrangements can be made. 1630-1730 General Ringing at the Cathedral prior to Evensong. Members are invited to attend Evensong in the Cathedral at 1730. There will be no ringing afterwards.

The meeting progresses

The Guild Master reported that the 6 Bell Striking Competition was well attended with the Cup being won by Scotter and Bourne taking second place. The Plate was won by Grantham with Welton runners up. Next year Branches are free to run their own competitions under their own rules as they wish, with the Guild accepting entries from individual towers or local tower groups. For The Cup the test piece will be 240 changes of Plain Bob Minor and for The Plate it will be 240 changes of Call changes or any method upto Plain Bob Doubles. The 2015 6 bell competition will be hosted by the Northern Branch on Saturday 12th September with the Cup being held at Middle Rasen and the Plate at Tealby. Only 4 teams took part in the 8 bell competition in 2014, this being won by the West Lindsey Branch. The 2015 8 bell competition will be held on Saturday 24th October and will be hosted by the Southern Branch. The Guild supported a band entering the Ringing World National Youth Contest held in Worcester in July 2014. The Lincolnshire Poachers team attained a B grade and came equal 4th place. The Guild entered a team into the Ridgman 10 bell competition held at Coggeshall, Essex in June 2014. They were placed 5th out of 8 bands. Sue Faull has suggested holding a Summer Festival for young and new ringers. The proposed date is Saturday 25th July 2015. Activities suggested include open towers, handbell ringing, rounders and a picnic. Branch secretaries are asked to feed back any other suggestions

Election of Officers

There is no Deputy Ringing master, although there is no constitutional requirement for one. The members were happy for Andrew to call upon a volunteer of his choice if necessary. Lorraine Jeffrey is stepping down as Secretary. Andrew Lord presented her with some flowers. Mark Giddings was elected as the new Secretary. A question was asked about the 3 year rotation of Branch officials as per the Guild Guidelines. Roger Lord answered that this was the preferred approach at Guild level, but only in so far as is practical. It is up to the branches how they manage it. There have always been issues in finding people to take on the roles, so it may not always be practical to rotate officers every 3 years. The most important aspect at either Guild or Branch level is that the main 3 positions, President, Secretary and Treasurer, cannot finish their term of office at the same time. It has to be staggered in order to maintain continuity. Alex Hibbitt has stepped down as the Junior Representative, as he is moving to pastures new. He was presented with a token of appreciation from the branch. The list of officers now stands as follows.

President: Linda Bromfield
Ringing Master: Andrew Lord
Secretary: Mark Giddings
Treasurer: Roger Lord
Newsletter Editor: Joy Lord
Branch Safeguarding Representative: Joy Lord
Accounts Examiner: David Hibbert
BRF Committee Rep: Joy Lord
Website Committee rep: Mark Giddings
Committee members: Colin Disney and Charles Cade
Junior Rep: Vacant

Election of New members

3 new members were elected from Barton, 1 from Grimsby, 1 from Market Rasen, 1 unattached member and 1 proposed under rule 2c as a non-resident life member.


Notices and forthcoming events

Andrew outlined the programme. On May 25th, the Ringing tour will be round the Grantham area. The Young Ringers festival in July is still being planned.

Guild Review

Roger Lord spoke about the Guild Review. The striking competition rules have now changed. It is now upto the Branch to organise their own striking competition. The old rules stated that you needed 4 members from a tower, but now you can have tower clusters with ringers from any towers in that cluster. Also under the old rules, the 1st and 2nd place teams from the local branch striking competition went through to the Cup and the 3rd and 4th place teams went through to the Plate. This is no longer the case. It is upto the branch (or towers individually) to decide what they want to do. However there will still be a branch striking competition in the Northern Branch, because it provides an opportunity for people to try out ringing for a striking competition and it is a good experience and the Guild Master is keen to encourage this.

There is a training fund which has been set up. From next year (if approved at the Guild AGM) 10% of the subscription will go into this fund as from January 2016. As for what the fund is used for is open to debate and this will be discussed at the Guild AGM in April. Possibilities include sending instructors on training courses and training literature. If anyone wants to have a say then they should go to the Guild AGM in April.

Robin Heppenstall has been looking at the Guild rules. There are lots of anomalies particularly with the BRF rules. As it stands at the moment the money from the BRF is only use for churches where change ringing is practiced, but this may be in contravention of the Charities Commission rules, since the wording of the rules could include churches with just one or two bells. However it is the change ringing towers that pay into the BRF.

Feedback was requested from the members about whether open towers or workshops would be more preferable in the afternoon. The consensus was that workshops would be more beneficial. Robin Heppenstall suggested that such workshops might include conducting workshops or change ringing on handbells. Also there is a vast amount of training material in the form of DVDs and perhaps those people interesting in teaching and training could look at what is available and make some recommendations about which are the best for our purposes.

If members have any other ideas they should let the committee know in the next couple of weeks, so it can be put to the Guild Committee.

Any Other Business

On the Agenda for future meetings it is proposed that every tower represented at the meeting give a short report on the activities that are taking place, like practices, Sunday ringing, methods rung, etc so that people know what else is happening in the branch. Generally this was accepted by the members as a good idea.

There have been some safeguarding issues within the Branch involving the misuse of social media. As a result it was proposed that a member of the Branch should have his membership revoked. This was seconded, put to the vote and carried with a show of hands.

There was a query about the upper age limit for ringers covered by the insurance, which was thought to be 70 years old. Roger replied stated that the upper age limit is in fact 80 years old.

The meeting closed with the members present joining together to say The Grace.

Jonathan Clark (webmaster)