I was appointed to this post in July 2016. Various positive actions have been achieved, built on the good working relationships that had been forged in a number of areas during my three years term of office as Master. In particular, we were able to develop some meaningful contacts as a direct result of Brighstone ringers having won an A.R.T award and our Guild having hosted the Central Council Annual Conference in May 2016.
The majority of my focus in the six months was on The Isle of Wight (my own District) and in the Portsmouth area. Local media in both Districts were keen to consider “Copy” from us. Pompey Chimes, the Portsmouth Diocesan newspaper, is supportive of ringing generally and asked to be advised of any item of potential interest. It was pleased to use an article, with photograph, of Archdeacon Peter’s visit to Brighstone when he attended a simulated practice; he was fascinated by the use of modern technology, enjoyed a ringing taster session and met the local band, including several lively young ringers!
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and The Lady Mayoress had attended the formal dinner of the Central Council in Southsea and we were able to consolidate that friendly first meeting. A group of twenty ringers were invited to take High Tea at The Lord Mayor’s Parlour. It was a delightful occasion and all enjoyed the great opportunity to meet The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, enjoy a splendid tea, to have a conducted tour of special rooms in the Guildhall and to share our excitement of ringing with the dignitaries. The young ringers present did a particularly good job of promoting ringing. The Lord Mayor was so impressed with their knowledge and enthusiasm that he rewarded them both by inviting them to take turns at sitting in the huge chair that he used during formal meetings in the Council Chamber! The local newspaper, The News, ran an article and photo reporting our visit.
The High Sheriff of The Isle of Wight asked ringers across the island to ring as many bells as possible for the first “Isle of Wight Day”. Island ringers obliged! Local media, including Radio Solent, reported the positive input of the bells for the special event. Radio Solent used a sound bite, courtesy of our Guild’s new MP3 recorder.
Another but much more solemn occasion attracted significant local media interest – the half-muffled peal at Carisbrooke in memory of local lad Petty Officer Patrick Dunne. Patrick had been lost when H.M.S. Hood was destroyed in WWll. The local press was particularly interested in this Remembrance Day ringing, as there was a descendant of Patrick’s who’d contacted me when I’d posted an article on Social Media about the restoration of the bell from H.M.S. Hood.
Guild members were encouraged to get involved with Heritage Open Days weekend, a national event. Several towers were open; a mixed result was evident. A success story was reported from St. Michael’s, Basingstoke. Visitors there were very keen to understand more about ringing and to learn about the history of the bells and tower. They heard about the bells, the oldest had been cast in 1558, and learned of Alice White, Basingstoke ringer famous for being the first lady to ring a peal, they viewed the church clock, were entertained to tower ringing and tried their hand at handbells.