The Guild of Devonshire Ringers celebrated their 140th Anniversary in style on Saturday 21st June, when the NE Branch hosted the Guild Festival and AGM at Tiverton.
The theme for the day was 140 bells for 140 years, and this ambitious and imaginative idea was made possible by a combination of organisation and committed ringing by members from across Devon. During the morning, quarter peals were scored (and lost!), handbells were rung, and tower bells pealed out across Tiverton as members gathered for the service at St Peter's.
Events then focussed on Tiverton Rugby Club, where refreshments and the Guild Mini-Ring greeted those arriving fresh from the service. Soon, it was time to assemble on the rugby terraces for the all-important commemorative Guild photograph, where President and Master were flanked by Vice-Presidents in the very front row.
Being a warm, sunny day, more refreshments were needed before members retired indoors for the Annual General Meeting. Some seventy ringers attended the meeting, with the room filled to capacity, and business was conducted with the usual mix of efficiency and warmth by our President, Lester Yeo. Thanks were extended to the NE Branch for all their hard work in organising such a successful day.
A wide range of topics were discussed at the meeting, including praise for the new Guild website, designed by Matthew Hilling, with members encouraged to use and update the website regularly. All Officers were re-elected without change, with Anne Bailey becoming Guild Master, and Geoff Hill becoming Master Elect for 2015/16. There was warm support for the election of James Clarke as Vice- President, in recognition of his long service at Branch, Guild and Central Council level.
The largest debate of the meeting concerned donations to the Ringing Foundation, with members eventually voting to direct money into the Guild Education Fund, specifically to finance local ringers wishing to attend ITTS training courses in Devon. Les Boyce gave his report on the recent Central Council meeting in Bearstead, Kent, and a written report from Ian Campbell detailed the latest developments with the DenMisch ring of ten simulated bells, kindly donated by Misha Thompson. These bells will be installed at Exeter Cathedral School with work starting during the summer, hopefully ready in time for installation by Christmas. They promise to form an exciting and positive training resource for ringers across the county.
Lester Yeo detailed his aims to assess the progress of the Guild Review during the autumn, and then members' attention was drawn to various forthcoming events. The Central Council 'Have Your Say' seminar on 19th July, to which everyone was encouraged to attend; the Ringing Roadshow on 6th September where the Guild and Association need support, and Quarter Peal Week (31st Oct – 9th Nov), where Tim Bayton asked Branches to make sure as many ringers as possible took part in quarter peal attempts.
The Guild Striking Competitions were confirmed as being held on 18th October, hosted by the Mid Devon Branch, with full details to appear shortly on the Guild website. And the 2015 Guild Festival and AGM was also confirmed to be hosted by the Exeter Branch in the Crediton area on 20th June 2015.
Following closure of the meeting, many ringers stayed behind to enjoy the displays, sales tables and mini ring, before relaxing together and socialising at the superb barbecue organised by the Cruwys Morchard ringers, where a hot air balloon provided unexpected entertainment, along with a quiz and group singing! And with a gloriously warm and sunny evening ahead, what better way to celebrate the end of yet another successful day in the Guild calendar?
Clare Griffiths, Guild Secretary