This is the first of a, hopefully not too long, series of Newsletters to keep us all in touch whilst we are unable to ring “normally”. I feel that it is most important that we should all be able to feel connected to the Guild, just as it is that the Guild should be to the membership. I intend to keep you all abreast of developments as we are, hopefully, coming to the end of the restrictions placed on us due to Covid-19 and, also, to give you a little bit of information about the Officers, so that we are not total strangers to you when we are allowed back out into the light!
At the Guild AGM on 8th May 2021, …
Such a long time since our last meet in 2019 at Cradley. The format, whilst taking place on Zoom, was very similar to past AGM’s where formal business has to be undertaken. We remembered a large number of ringers’ who have sadly past away since our last AGM.
Of course this time around we said our farewell’s to the retiring Guild Master, Nick Cooper-Tomkins and welcomed the new Master, Nick Cronin and whilst no formal face to face hand over could take place, the spirit was still there.
We welcomed some new faces to the Guild through changes to Guild Officers and the emphasis on ‘what comes next’ is a hot topic with much action required from us all. It is usual that the Guild Master presents the Centenary Shield to a member for outstanding work within the Guild. This year the Master spoke of a person, who supported on many levels and was a good council on many topics, he was talking about Chris Kippin and hopes to visit Chris soon to present the plate in person. The Bell Restoration Fund also present the ‘George Cousins cup’ to recognise efforts to improve ringing environments and this went to Darren Swancott for the huge amount of work he has undertaken to improve the ringing room at Broseley. A more in-depth detail is available via the soon to be published, draft minutes.
GUILD MASTER – Nick Cronin
At the Guild AGM Nick Cooper-Tompkins stood down from the post of Guild Master, and I was honoured to be elected to the position, and, for those of you who do not know me, I will tell you a little about myself. My name is Nick Cronin, Nicholas C.R. Cronin in peal listings, and I have been around ringing for nearly 60 years.
I started learning at Whitbourne, my home from birth, in October 1962, being taught by the late Fred Davis. My progress was slow until a Bromyard District Quarterly meeting some time later when the great Tom Cooper, of Thomas Cooper Striking Competition fame, said to me “Come on son, there’s five good men giving up their time for you”. I did “come on”, and I have been grateful to him for his geeing me up then, and his support afterwards, ever since. Had it not been for those words and subsequent support, I may very well have given up trying to ring bells. I learned a tremendous lot from Whitbourne bells, which, with their long draught and ‘unpredictable’ ropes if they are not handled perfectly, has set me in good stead for ringing just about any bell anywhere.
I lived in Whitbourne for the first 45 years of my life before making the move to Bromyard, where I live with my wife Janet and our four working dachshunds. We work together at my business, in Leominster, where we repair, rebuild and restore vintage and classic motorcycles – and yes, I do own quite a few of them myself, ranging in age from 1913 to 1967!
As soon as we are allowed, it is my intention to support as many Guild events, and towers, as possible.
No doubt many of you will be wondering whether you will be able to ring, or whether you have ‘seized up’. Here are some on-line exercises that I have found which may be a good way of limbering up for the big day, which will not, hopefully, be all that far away:-
‘Getting fit to ring’ from the Survival and Recovery Toolbox, created by ART and the Central Council
https://bb.ringingworld.co.uk/event.php?id=13581 (or https://rwrld.uk/am6s)
A YouTube video of a presentation given by Lucy Gwynne to the St Martin’s Guild.‘Yoga for ringers’, an article by Hannah Burrows, Ringing World 2019 p.504 (24 May)
‘Why not to celebrate with a quarter peal – Or, How to avoid injury on returning to ringing’, an article by David Pouncey, Ringing World 2020 p.675 (10 July)
If you would like to invite me along to your practice or meeting, or just to make sure that I know about what you have organised, my contact details are:-
Nick Cronin K.O.B.I.,
4, Maple Close,
Tel: 01885 483424 (please be prepared to leave your name and number on the answering machine, as it is very rare that one of us manages to answer the telephone before the machine does. I will ring you back when I can.)
GUILD SECRETARY – Mark Pugh
I hope that many of you will already know of me from my many past and current roles held within our Guild. My home tower is Leominster Priory where I have been Tower Captain since 1997 and have the wonderful job of maintaining a very old, early ring of 10 bells which has allowed me to gain knowledge through caring for this set, along with the many projects I have been fortunate to help with.
Even though I am sometimes challenged to run 10 bell ringing, I have a passion for 5 bell ringing and enjoy mad arrangements of doubles to the point of calling a peal at Pembridge.
Concerned with the direction in which our own tower numbers were heading, a few years ago my wife Rhiannon and myself, completed training under A.R.T. (association of ringing teachers) and eventually made Leominster into an ART hub with the aspirations of gaining new learners of which we had 12 at one point and aspired to enthuse new teachers, until the pandemic came along.
It is my hope that you will recover in one shape or another to whatever ringing ends up as and know that I am here to assist with contact for support from the many different angles we have available, not just as the current Guild Secretary, but also as the Guild’s Belfries Officers and a keen enthusiast in the preservation of our sets of bells along with our ART skills set too.
You will find contact details for me upon our new website ( www.hdgb.org ) or if you have a past Guild Report, contact for Leominster and of course the guild email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Survival & Recovery Programme
Sterling work has been done, and continues to be done, by our dedicated team of Recovery Champions who are doing their best, in these early stages of the lifting of lock-down, to share ideas, motivation and inspiration with ringers throughout the whole of the Exercise. We are fortunate in having such a dedicated group of people prepared to give their time and if you wish to contact them please request their detail through our Guild Secretary so to match a person near to your ringing tower/s.
With a huge network of Recovery Champions now in place and the enthusiastic contribution to each of the zoom meetings by many individuals from around the country shows there is a great deal of energy around this initiative.
As one might expect common themes are emerging e.g. almost without exception an acceptance that post covid numbers will be down on an already decreasing number of participating ringers. Districts or towers are focussing on getting current ringers back, then being concerned about retention then finally looking to recruitment. Any number of ideas about how to progress through that journey is to be found under the survival and recruitment banner on the Central Council website.
Thankfully, there is a recognition that current ecclesiastical and historical district boundaries need to be broken down to enable us to survive and become better equipped to attract & retain a wider cross section of the population into this wonderful hobby of ours. That is amazingly easy to say and much harder to implement.
Its safe to say however that each step of the process back to ringing as we knew it – and then some – needs a healthy amount of collaboration. We have all got something to offer, and it will be so good to bring some positivity back into our world. We need to make a start in our area, and I hope we can do so very soon.
Under the banner of survival and recovery this Saturday marks the start of a series of presentations to illustrate examples of good practice. These presentations will be hosted online during the week commencing Saturday 8th May and are aimed at and open to anyone who is wanting to make the ringing recovery a success. Here is the link for those who wish to take a look or join in:
The Thomas Cooper Striking Competition
Owing to the uncertainty of the timing of the return to ringing, and of how it will actually work in the first few months, it has been decided that the Striking Competition will not take place this year, the next one will, Deo volante, take place in October 2022.
Guild open day
When we are allowed to mix and meet up on a more “normal” basis, hopefully in October 2021, it is planned to hold a Guild Open Day. This will be a chance for the Guild, and the wider world, to savour the results of the hard work that has been going on during the lockdown: the rehung, retuned and augmented 10 at Ledbury and the recast 8 at Stoke St Milborough. It may not be possible to combine both of them in one day, as they are, depending on the route taken, between 35 and 45 miles apart, but, I am sure, we are all keen to hear for ourselves the difference in sound and to experience the improved “go” of the rings.
As there will be no Guild Report this year, it is important that our contact details are kept up to date. Listed below are the names of key District Officers and their contact details. All other detail is held upon the Guild Website or available via the Guild Secretary.