I am pleased to report another successful year for the Band which has seen further progress and consolidation. My report reviews the activities since our last AGM in early 2016 to date.
Starting first with our most important activity which is ringing for services, we have maintained our record of ringing Sunday by Sunday throughout the year. Unlike the Choir we take no holidays! Support for Sunday morning ringing is very strong and it is now the exception if we don’t ring all 12. The logistics of raising all the bells on Sunday morning does mean we need to work harder on our ringing up skills and I would remind people that ringing starts promptly at 8.45 and the more people who arrive on time the more likely we are to be able to raise the bells in good order.
We have fewer ringers for Evensong, however we do always ring and sometimes we ring quarter peals.
In addition we have supplied bands to ring for numerous weddings during the year, for additional services such as Civic Service and Remembrance Day. This year we rang half muffled for Remembrance and received many favourable comments. We also rang for the Radio Solent Carol service in December and our normal Easter marathon of four services. We are sourcing some new muffles for the whole 12 because the existing set are very worn.
Our band continues to grow as we have continued the tradition, long maintained at the Priory of being a teaching tower. In the last year Graham Green and Jack Brooke have joined our Sunday service band and we currently have four learners receiving one to one training so we hope that some or all of them will join the band in due course. I strongly believe that when we train ringers it is for the benefit of the whole Exercise and I am always keen for new ringers to take their place in the wider ringing community and not see their activities as confined to the Priory. Our band remain strong supporters of District activities with ringers from Christchurch often making up a sizeable proportion of those present. Ringers from the Priory also regularly support the Hordle practice night, Sunday ringing at Sacred Heart and St Peters Bournemouth, the Ringwood Surprise Practice, the Sopley minor practice, the Lymington Doubles and Minor practice and the Guild Surprise Royal practice the District Youth Practice, the District Quarter Peal club and the Guild Education events.
Many ringers in the band continue to develop their skills and in particular we should congratulate Helen Penny on her first quarter, Nicola and Luke on their first quarter inside tonTriples and Luke for conducting his first quarter at Hordle. Another highlight this year was the Guild entering a team into the National Youth Striking Competion with the involvement of three ringers from the Priory, Nicola, Luke and Helen. A long but exciting day out in London saw the ringers enjoy a variety of London towers and take part in the competition on the Royal Jubilee bells at Garlickhythe in the City.
In terms of abilities we have continued to develop our Triples ringing and new ringers are also coming up through plain hunt and into doubles. We have made good progress with some minor methods this year including Kent, Double Court, Plain and Little Bob. This builds skills and provides interest for those progressing up the ladder. We took 6 people to the Double Norwich course in the autumn, 4 students and 2 helpers and our students made very good progress with this historic and these days rather neglected method.
I am keen to develop more ringers into potential ringing masters and this year so there may be some occasions when other people are running the ringing and I’m sure you will support them.
I would like to thank all those who have supported me in leading the Tower this year including the office holders, Ian and Rosemary as Deputy Captains, Richard as Treasurer, John as Steeplekeeper and Ros as Secretary/ PR officer. Finally to all of you who support the ringing I thank you for your undiminished commitment and enthusiasm for the Band and your ringing week by week which is appreciated by so many in the Town.