Winchester District Autumn Meeting Minutes – November 2021

Minutes of the Winchester Autumn District Meeting held via Zoom at 10am on Saturday 13th November 2021

Present: Bruce Purvis (BP)–Chairman, Winchester Cathedral, Tony  Smith (TS) – Treasurer, Hursley, Edmund Wratten (EW) – District Ringing Master (Unattached), Andrew Glover (AG)- District Webmaster, Romsey, Roger Booth (RB)– Acting District Newsletter Editor, New Arlesford, Micki Nadal (MN) – District Secretary, Stockbridge & Kings Somborne, Judy Bishop, Easton, Caroline Fairley (CF), Winchester Cathedral, Carol Higgins, Lockerley, Andrew Johnson (AJ), New Arlesford, Elizabeth Johnson (EJ), New Arlesford,  Christine Knights-Whittome (CKW),Wonston, Brenda Palk, Lockerley, John Palk (JP),Lockerley, Tricia Shannon, Unattached, Elizabeth Skinner, Bishopstoke, Rodney Skinner (RS), Ropley, Pam Thomson, Hursley, Richard Thompson, Hursley and Jenny Watson, Sparsholt.

19 members attended, representing 12 towers, plus 2 unattached members.

  1. Welcome and Apologies

Chairman BP welcomed members and accepted apologies from John Croft (JC), Steve Lamb, Jen Churchill and Mike Hopkins-Till.

  1. Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting held on Saturday 13th February 2021 were agreed with no comments and signed by BP.

  1. Matters arising:

Since Guild Executive Committee representative JC would be unable to attend the Guild Zoom meeting scheduled for Saturday 20th November, he had agreed with RB that a replacement could take his place.  BP agreed that an alternative member would be satisfactory.  TS agreed, providing only District matters were discussed by the replacement.  He felt that Guild Executive meetings would, in future, be held online and that this would be a continuing issue.  AJ asked which of the District Officers could attend normally – this would be the District Secretary and 1 other as elected.

BP proposed RB; seconded by RS and confirmed unanimously by a show of hands.

  1. Loss of members through death

BP led attendees in a short prayer and a minute’s silence for the District members who had died since the previous meeting:

Peter J Clarke (Bishopstoke), Rosemary Oakeshott (Lockerley & East Tytherley), Rosemary Haviland (formerly of Micheldever), Wally F Taylor (formerly of Wonston) and Jean Kelly (formerly of Candover Valley).

  1. Elections of new ringing members – the following probationary and new ringing members were proposed for election:
    • Election of probationary members

Mary Richards of Stockbridge on 1 October 2021 proposed by MN, seconded by JP.

Jan Conway, Ruth Horner, Jane Parker-Brown, Rosie Reay, Melanie Rose, Robert Spencer and Tim Stone of Cheriton on 11 November 2021 proposed by C F, seconded by RB.

  1. Election of new ringing members

Benjamin Knowles and Elizabeth A Skinner of Bishopstoke proposed by Roy LeMarechal, seconded by Graham Wright.

  1. Training needs/purchases and programme

RB reported that a ringing simulator, borrowed from New Arlesford, had been used successfully for the training of the Cheriton learners.  He felt the District should purchase a SIMBEL simulator for use around towers in the district; this would cost £420 and would not require a faculty.  RB would offer a permanent loan of a laptop to run the programme.  TS suggested the simulator and associated equipment be held in the charge of the District Ringing Masters and that guidelines be issued regarding the length of the loan to each tower.  EW would be happy to be in charge of the simulator and its use and suggested a permanent ‘home’ be decided upon.  Both EW and RB suggested motorcycle tyres muffles be used as an inexpensive way to silence bells.  The simulator would be purchased by the District Secretary; RB would contact MN on this matter.

BP proposed a SIMBEL simulator be purchased.  This was seconded by CKW and passed on a show of hands.                                                                                                                                         Action RB/MN  

  1. Programme of future events

BP felt he, MN, EW, AG and TS should meet to discuss the future programme; he opened the issue to the floor for attendees’ views.  AJ suggested that, given the timescale before Christmas, plans be made for 2022.  EJ welcomed a decision immediately on the date and venue for the District Annual Meeting, which all present believed should be a live meeting and not held online.  Following a short discussion this was agreed as Saturday 12th February 2022 in St Mary’s Easton, with tower ringing and tea in the village hall.  BP thanked JB for agreeing to this proposal; JB would check to confirm the church and village hall would be available for this date. 

Action JB

  1. Any other notified business
  • Insurance matters – tower and Guild

As a result of questions, initially raised by a member of Andover District with Guild Treasurer Helen Woolford, regarding insurance cover for members and whether this was the responsibility of the PCC, Guild or individual members, a short discussion took place.  All agreed there was a need for greater clarity on the subject.  RB suggested District officers set up training sessions on insurance cover and risk assessments for towers and agreed to raise the matter with the Guild Executive at the next meeting.  MN would contact Winchester District Towers and produce a list identifying those towers with no risk assessment. 

Action MN/District Officers

  • Recovery after the pandemic

EW felt that those towers needing help were probably not represented at the QDM; AG referred attendees to the questionnaire produced by RB, which had identified needs in certain towers, particularly with the loss of between 20-25% of ringers during the pandemic.  It was agreed the District Officers should contact towers to establish suitable places for future events.  Towers with ground floor rings and plenty of space should be identified; small towers should be given help from suitable venues nearby.  RB suggested that, following the success of a recruitment programme in the New Arlesford area, the district should concentrate on 1 or 2 areas at a time for the next 2 years.  EW suggested that, when the correspondence on tower risk assessments was sent out, tower captains should be asked again what help they need.  BP agreed District Officers should proceed on that basis.

Action MN/District Officers

  • Bell and tower project updates

Ropley:  RS gave a short description of the overall damage to the church resulting from the fire in 2014 and the problems arising from increasing rebuild costs, insufficient levels of insurance and work stoppage due to the pandemic, resulting in costs which have escalated even further, by c. 25%.  The huge project to strengthen the tower with a steel frame and replace the bells requires additional funds, in spite of magnificent fund raising efforts by the village to rebuild the church and replace the bells.  It was hoped the District and Guild would be able to help the fund raising by allocating grants to Ropley.  TS advised that the District supports bell projects with grants of £500 and proposed that this amount be allocated to Ropley; seconded by BP.  The proposal was agreed unanimously.

Twyford:  AJ gave a short review of work completed to date at Twyford.  The recent visit by the Mayor of Winchester had stimulated interest in the bell improvements.  From a total predicted cost of £85,000, around £67,000 had already been raised.  Further fund raising events had been planned to help meet the shortfall of some £18,000.  TS proposed that the District allocate £500 to the Twyford project; this was seconded by BP and agreed unanimously.  MN reminded attendees that Diocesan grant information, including a grant specific to bells, had recently been sent out to all Tower Correspondents.

Action TS

  • GS2222 – church closures and churches at risk

BP reminded attendees of the recent Ringing World article from 03/09/21 and referred them to RB’s recent list of District churches at risk of closure and to examples of how church closures and sales can potentially affect the numbers of bell towers available.  RB believed future ringing bands would be most likely made up of groups ringing at several different churches for services.  EW felt that, since this was something which would affect churches from a Diocesan level, this should be first and foremost a Guild matter.  Following a brief discussion on churches at risk, i.e. those with regular congregations of <25 and who do not meet their share of the Common Mission Fund (CMF); what could happen to bells in redundant churches; which towers have some representation on Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) and/or links with the Deanery Synods; identifying those churches with mediaeval non-matching bells which could make use of redundant matching bells, BP outlined a course of action:

  • To find out which churches have representation on PCCs and to build and strengthen contacts with PCC members
  • To ask Guild Executive representatives to find out Guild views on GS2222 and how to identify churches at risk
  • To establish groups to obtain more contacts at deanery level with a view to gaining further information on diocesan plans at the grass roots level. 

Action District Officers

  1. Any Other Business

AJ referred attendees to a fund raising concert at Twyford to be held at 6pm on Wednesday 24th November in Twyford church.  MN would forward this to all tower correspondents.

Action MN

JP reminded attendees that the Guild Report would be issued again following a year’s absence and a questionnaire would be sent to TS and MN for completion.  AJ felt the numbers showing average attendance at Sunday services and ringing practices was very useful information. 

Action JP/MN/TS

The meeting closed at 11.17am

Chairman ……………………………………….  Date……………………………………………….

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