Newsletter 2014

November Surprise Major Practice

Thirteen people made their way to Oswestry for the Surprise Major practice. Methods rung were London (twice), Bristol, Glasgow, 6-spliced and 8-spliced, miraculously all coming round.

There will be no Surprise Major practice in December.

Sue Buckingham
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November Training Morning

This was held at Edgmond and made use of the simulator. Four students and eleven tutors turned up ready for a morning of training. The students were: Ernie Martin (Bicton), Peter Hall (Cheswardine), Susan Bower (Calverhall), and Geoff Harding (Baschurch). The tutors were: Tony Freemont (Association Training Officer and director of the day’s proceedings), Edric Broom, Mark Adams, Kathryn Greaves, Jad Bienek, Madeline Harris, Brian Kear, Peter Neil, Peter Woollam, Susan Capey, and Sue Perry.

The students had come to get extra help with plain hunting, call changes, Stedman Triples and Grandsire Triples. These aims were accomplished by ringing Plain Hunt Doubles, Plain Hunt Triples, Plain Bob Doubles, and plain courses and touches of Stedman Triples, and Grandsire Triples.

Refreshments (tea, coffee, brownies, flapjacks) were available throughout the morning.

Thanks go to Edric for the use of the bells and for preparing the bells and the simulator

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Quiz Night 2014

This was held at Edgmond Village Hall. 51 tickets were sold. Nine teams sat down to answer questions set by Tony Freemont and Cordelia Warr, making their first appearance as question setters for the Association. The teams answered questions on Ologies, Fauna, Numbers, Phobias, Formula 1, Christmas Hits, Noms de Plume. During the break for supper there were questions to answer on Flags, Literature, and Battles. The team with the lowest score was the Wooden Spoons – they received a small packet of sweets. The second highest scorers were Wrekin Havoc and the highest scoring team was Just Because. These two teams each received a container of chocolates.

Supper was a selection of hearty soups (Sweet Potato & Chorizo, Minestrone, Sweetcorn Chowder, and Lentil & Coconut) with crusty bread. Delicious puddings were provided by several members and devoured by everyone.

Peter Woollam ran the bar and sold raffle tickets. The raffle raised £83 for the BRF and the winners of the prizes were Sharon Collins, Karen Compton, Derek Dancey, Alan Glover, John Neal, Geraldine Sear, Sue Townsend, and Peter Woollam.

Paul Lewis, the Association’s previous quizmaster, thanked Tony and Cordelia for setting the quiz; Sue Buckingham and all those who had helped with the catering; Edric and Maureen Broom for organising the use of the hall; and Peter Woollam for running the bar and raffle.

The profit from the bar and the ticket sales was £269.58. Thanks to all who supported this Association event.

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Fourteenth Association Peal in 2014

The fourteenth Association peal this year was rung at Morville. It was Amanda Craig's first peal on eight bells and Sue Buckingham's 25th peal for the Association. Congratulations to them both.

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Whitchurch Looking For Ringers

The ringers at St Alkmund's church, Whitchurch are very keen to recruit some additional members to ring on Sunday mornings from 9.30 to 10.00am and for occasional weddings. At the moment they are looking for competent ringers, including those who have had a break from ringing and would like to come back to what is a fascinating, enjoyable and social activity.

It is also proposed to restart practices at Whitchurch on Thursday evenings from 7.00 until 8.30pm starting on 6th November. As well as Sunday ringers, the band would welcome other ringers to practice nights even if they are committed to ring elsewhere on a Sunday.

Anyone interested should contact Anne or Malcolm Monie on 01948 663069 or by email .

The tower has eight bells ranging in weight from 5 to 19cwt. They were recommissioned in 2002 having been refurbished and tuned to the key of E flat. The ringing chamber is located about halfway up the tower with access from inside the church.

Malcolm Monie
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October Surprise Major Practice

This was held at High Ercall. Sixteen ringers attended and, at short notice, Edric Broom directed the ringing. The ringing comprised Bristol, Cambridge, London, Pudsey, and 6-spliced.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held at Oswestry on Friday 28th November, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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October Practice and Quarterly Meeting

These took place at Hodnet with twenty one ringers participating. Sue Buckingham (Ringing Master) coordinated the ringing which included call changes, Grandsire Doubles, Grandsire Triples, Single Oxford Bob Triples, Little Bob Major, Cambridge Surprise Major and Yorkshire Surprise Major.

Kim Evans and Michael Holford (both Chirk) and Daniel Thomas, (Ruabon) were elected as members of the Association. Lizzie J Hough and Edward P D Colliss were ratified as members following their election prior to a recent Peal.

There was a short discussion about the number of students attending Training Mornings and it was stressed that the optimum number is five, and that those wishing to attend must contact the Training Officer to book a place on the course. It was suggested that anyone turning up at a Training Morning without booking should be turned away if the session is full. Tony Freemont reported that a group of experienced ringers is going to Moreton Corbet to help with training of new ringers there. A similar session is planned for Meole Brace.

Peter Woollam’s Bell Adviser’s report was read by Sue. The church at Clive is considering the installation of sound control following the recent work to the bells. Peter has inspected the bells at Malinslee and is preparing a report for the Churchwardens. The Tower Maintenance course was attended by two Association members and three from the North Wales Association. Andrew Gordon reported on a meeting he had had with the vicar of Tong following receipt of a report from Taylor’s on the state of the bells there. The church is planning to apply for one of the Heritage Lottery Fund's Sharing Heritage World War 1 grants to help towards the cost of work to the bells.

Tickets for the Quiz Night are available from Sue Buckingham. The cost is £8 each. The event is being held at Edgmond Village Hall on Saturday 8th November from 7:30 – 11pm. Maximum team size is six.

Sue thanked John and Karen Powell for the use of Hodnet church and bells, and for the providing refreshments.

The raffle raised £37 for the BRF. Winners of the prizes of chocolates, fresh beetroot, and alcohol were Sue Buckingham, Tony Freemont, John Powell and Karen Compton.

Brian Kear directed the draw for the 100+ Club. The winners were Jad Bienek - £50, Colin Jones - £25, Kathryn Greaves - £15, Chris Yates - £15, Tony Parkes - £12, and Cathy Gaskell - £10.

The next Quarterly Meeting will be held on Saturday 10th January 2015 at Ellesmere, prior to the AGM.

The next Association practice will be held jointly with the Church Stretton District, prior to the Carol Service at Clun on Saturday 13th December.

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September Surprise Major Practice

A select band of eight gathered at St Mary's in Shrewsbury and rang Superlative and two touches of 6-spliced.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held on Friday 31 October at High Ercall, starting at 7:30pm.

Sue Buckingham
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September Training Morning

This was held at Edgmond and made use of the simulator. Eight students turned up hoping to get help with call changes, Plain Hunt, Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles. To this end the Association's Training Officer, Tony Freemont, called on the expertise of eight of the more experienced ringers in the Association. Refreshments were available throughout the morning.

The next general Training Morning to be held at Edgmond will be on Saturday 29 November, and five places are available for students. Please contact Tony Freemont if you would like to participate.

The bob-calling training due to be held on 18 October has been cancelled.

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Association Striking Competition

The Association's 2014 Striking Competition was held on a warm and overcast September afternoon at St Lucia’s church, Upton Magna. The draw was held in the village hall, where tea (provided by an assortment of ringers) was available throughout the afternoon. The judges were Kath and Duncan Matheson from the Chester Guild.

Eleven bands representing eight towers participated in the competition, and are pictured below in the order in which they rang. It is pleasing to see some new bands taking part in this annual ritual. Once the judges had finished their deliberations and had made their way to the hall, the Association Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, introduced them to the ringers. Sue said that Duncan is Chairman of the East Cheshire Branch of the Chester Guild, and that Kath and Duncan are doing their bit for the NHS as two of their children are doctors and the third is training to become a doctor. Kath's father had judged a Striking Competition at Upton Magna many years ago. Duncan thanked Sue for inviting them to judge the competition and mentioned that it also enabled them to grab a new tower. He said that the standard was really very good and noted that the second bell seemed to give some trouble, and that with a number of bands the treble clipped the tenor. Duncan then gave a brief report on each band's ringing before Kath announced the scores. Kath said that she and Duncan had separately marked each band and their scores were then added together to give a final score, which is why the numbers are so high. The scores and results are given below.

Sue thanked the judges for their efforts, and presented them with a bottle of wine. Sue also meant to thank all those who had provided the copious and delicious refreshments, but in the excitement of the moment it slipped her mind.

In keeping with tradition, Peter Woollam sold raffle tickets. Before the drawing of the winning tickets Peter thanked all those who had supplied prizes and reported that £81 had been raised for the Bell Restoration Fund. The raffle prizes, which included the old favourites of alcohol and chocolates and also a set of slate coasters, were won by Jacqui Barden (Shrewsbury), Ginette Pardoe (Coalbrookdale), Keith Swinnerton (Hinstock), Cordelia Warr (Oswestry), Lewis Roberts (Meole Brace), Mark Adams (Edgmond), Madeline Harris (Market Drayton), Sharon Collins (Wellington), Andrew Gordon (Beckbury).

Newport ringers

Newport

(l-r) Paul Lewis, Kathryn Greaves, Richard Talbot,
Peter Dean, John Williamson, John Stokes

Oswestry ringers

Oswestry

(l-r) Tony Freemont, Peter Neil, Cordelia Warr
Peter Woollam, Frances Major, Richard Major

Wellington B ringers

Wellington 'B'

(l-r) Ginette Pardoe, Marion Lake, Andrew Gordon
Sharon Collins, Rob Davis, Nicola Adams

Shrewsbury B ringers

Shrewsbury 'B'

(l-r) Sue Townsend, Biff Patterson, Madeline Harris
Jad Bienek, Brian Kear, Derek Dancey

Market Drayton ringers

Market Drayton

(l-r) Roy Bloor, Cathy Gaskell, Keith Swinnerton
Madeline Harris, David Beckwith, Cynthia Costelloe

Meole Brace ringers

Meole Brace

(l-r) Mike Carding, Lewis Roberts, Clive Morris,
Andy Digby, John Crum, Vicki Sivess

Beckbury ringers

Beckbury

(l-r) Jen Rowley, John Whitham, Heather Thomas,
Andrew Gordon, Judith Gibbins, Peter Gibbins

Edgmond ringers

Edgmond

(l-r) Matt Lawrence, Edric Broom, Mark Adams
Gail Lawrence, Chris Wulkau, Bill Deason

Shrewsbury A ringers

Shrewsbury 'A'

(l-r) Dawn Offen, Alan Glover, Gill Glover
Nick Green, Sue Buckingham, Jacqui Barden

Wellington A ringers

Wellington 'A'

(l-r) Amanda Ellis, Alan Price, Nicola Adams
Marion Lake, Cynthia Hedley, Colin Jones

Shrewsbury C ringers

Shrewsbury 'C'

(l-r) Alan Glover, Mark Adams, Dawn Offen
Mike Carding, Robert Pride, John Crum

Ernest Willcox Trophy presentation

Edric Broom receiving the Ernest Willcox Trophy for Edgmond

Call Change Cup presentation

David Beckwith receiving the Call Change Cup for Market Drayton

Charles Allmand Shield presentation

Kathryn Greaves receiving the Charles Allmand Shield for Newport

Team Faults Peal Speed Ringing
Edgmond 21½ 2h58m Method Ernest Willcox Trophy
Shrewsbury 'A' 23 2h50m Method
Oswestry 26½ 2h55m Method
Shrewsbury 'B' 33½ 2h58m Method
Market Drayton 62½ 3h8m Call Changes Call Change Cup
Shrewsbury 'C' 68 3h Call Changes
Newport 72½ 3h9m Method Charles Allmand Shield
Wellington 'B' 80½ 3h4m Call Changes
Beckbury 121½ 3h17m Call Changes
Wellington 'A' 137 3h8m Call Changes
Meole Brace 187 3h4m Call Changes
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75th Birthday Peal

David Coleman (no, not the other David Coleman) celebrated his 75th birthday by ringing a peal at his home tower. This was the first Association peal at Wrockwardine for almost exactly 34 years.

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VAT and the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme

Those who have been involved with restoration work to their bells in recent years will remember that there was a period of time when VAT could be reclaimed under the above scheme. However, the ‘old’ scheme expired in March 2011 and its replacement specifically excluded bells and bell fittings from eligibility. The Government has just announced changes to the current scheme and the good news is that:

“From 1 October 2013, works to pipe organs, turret clocks, bells and bell ropes will be eligible for claims under the scheme. Professional services directly related to eligible building work such as architect fees will also become eligible. These changes apply to works supplied from 1 October 2013.”

You can read more at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/listed-places-of-worship-grant-scheme-extended.

Peter Woollam
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August Association Practice

This was the biannual joint practice with the Church Stretton District of the Hereford Guild and was held at Meole Brace, making use of the simulator. Eighteen ringers attended, and the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, directed proceedings. The ringing included call changes, Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire Triples, Stedman Triples, and Cambridge Surprise Major.

The next Association practice will be held on Saturday 11th October from 7pm to 9pm at Hodnet, and will include the Quarterly Meeting.

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August Surprise Minor Practice

This was held at Upton Magna. Under the direction of Chris Fraser the twelve ringers present had a go at Cambridge, Carlisle, Hull, Lightfoot, Morpeth, Norfolk, Water, and Wells.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held on Saturday 1st November, from 10am to 12 noon, at St Martins.

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Two Peals in One Day

The eleventh and twelfth peals this year were rung for the Association on Saturday 26th July 2014, one of the hottest days of the year. Congratulations to Ann Williams for ringing her 100th peal for the Association. Ann becomes the eleventh person to ring at least 100 peals for the Association.

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July Surprise Major Practice

On a hot July evening nineteen ringers travelled to Edgmond from the four corners of the Association, and beyond, for the Surprise Major practice. Under the direction of the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, and hidden from the body of the church by a huge floral arrangement, Cornwall, Glasgow, London, Rutland, Superlative, and 8-spliced were rung.

The next Surprise Major practice (unsimulated) will be held at Oswestry, on Friday 29th August, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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July Association Practice and Quarterly Meeting

These took place at Albrighton and twenty three ringers attended. In the absence of the Ringing Master the ringing was directed by Tony Freemont (Training Officer) and included call changes, Plain Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples, Yorkshire Surprise Major and Single Oxford Bob Triples.

The Quarterly Meeting was run by Madeline Harris. Glenda Kay, Carolyn Smith, (both Shawbury); Jo Schupp (Unattached); Chloe Darby (Edgmond); Michael Aspey, Mark Dingle , Gerald J Scrivens (all Codsall) were elected as members of the Association.

Tony Freemont reported that the May training morning had gone well; the next such training will be held on 27th September at Edgmond. There would also be a Tower Maintenance session on 20th September and a Bob Calling training session on 18th October. Contact Tony if you would like to attend any of these. Edric reported that the July Third Wednesday morning of the month session would be held at Chetwynd rather than Edgmond.

Peter Woollam (Bell Advisor) reported on recent bell works. Clive PCC has been awarded a grant of £14,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for work on their bells and this is due to start on 21st July with the bells out of action for about three weeks. The work at Ellesmere has been completed. Refurbishment work at Oswestry has been completed. Taylor’s has sorted out a problem with the hanging of the treble at Shifnal. Peter also gave a report of the annual conference of Diocesan Bell Advisers organised by ChurchCare (previously known as the Council for the Care of Churches) which he had attended.

There was a discussion about methods for recruitment of ringers. Suggestions included tower Open Days and school and Scout/Guide events. Edric stated that the Festival of Churches (covering Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire) is being repeated again this year but this time for two weeks with the Ride & Stride Saturday in the middle. Edgmond is planning to hold an Open Tower for an hour one evening during this time. Rodney Upton reported that there will be an Open Day at Ellesmere church on Saturday 19th July from 2pm to 4pm as part of the celebration of the completion of the work on the bells. Peter Woollam commented that the Ellesmere ringers had done an excellent job of advertising within Ellesmere and had gained four recruits of whom two are still ringing (one retired with a broken finger). Retention of new ringers is also important. Tony reiterated that he is willing to find experienced ringers who would attend a tower on a Saturday to help with training at that tower. Paul Lewis mentioned that there is to be a national ringing recruitment campaign in 2016.

As there had been insufficient expressions of interest in the project, Peter Woollam announced that the proposed minibus trip to the Ringing Roadshow has been cancelled.

Rodney Upton welcomed all ringers to ring at Ellesmere on Friday evenings, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm He also said that there could be ringing after the AGM to be held at Ellesmere in January 2015.

Madeline reminded those present about the Striking Competition in September.

Peter Woollam raised £38 for the BRF from the sale of raffle tickets. Prizes of freshly-picked strawberries, wine and confectionery were won by David Watkins, Brian Kear, Edric Broom, Nick Green, and Gail Lawrence.

Brian Kear was pleased to announce that there are 110 members of the 100+ Club, which means that he can offer six prizes every month. The winners of the second draw of the year are: E Ann Williams (£50), Jennifer Rowley (£25), Andrew Pooler (£15), Ann Monie (£15), Dot Williams(£12) and Pat Paddock (£10).

The next Monthly Practice will be held at Meole Brace on 9th August, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The next Quarterly Meeting will be held at Hodnet on Saturday 11th October.

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Diocesan Bell Advisers' Conference

ChurchCare (which used to be called the Council for the Care of Churches) organises an annual conference for Diocesan Bell Advisers. Local Association Bell Advisers were invited to this year’s meeting and Peter Woollam travelled to St Albans on 8th July to attend. Issues discussed that might be of local interest included:

Peter Woollam
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July Surprise Minor Practice

This was held at Prees and just enough ringers attended. Under the guidance of Chris Fraser they rang Cambridge several times, Ipswich, and Wells.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held on Saturday 2nd August, at Upton Magna. There will be no Association Surprise Minor practices in September and October.

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June Surprise Major Practice

Fifteen ringers travelled to Shrewsbury for the June Surprise Major practice at St Mary’s. Under the leadership of the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, Bristol, Cassiobury, Glasgow, Lincolnshire, London, 6-spliced and 7-spliced were rung.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held at Edgmond, on Friday 25th July, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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Change of Practice Times at Newport

With immediate effect, the weekly practice times at Newport have changed. Practice is now held on Fridays from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.

John Williamson writes that this change has the blessing of the vicar, but the ringers have yet to discover if the change has the blessing of the nearby residents!

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Treasure Hunt and Barbecue

A fine but distantly threatening June afternoon found six teams arriving in the car park at Shawbury Village Hall to await instructions for the Treasure Hunt part of the Association’s summer social event. As Tony Freemont and Cordelia Warr, the Treasure Hunt setters, could not be present on the day, Chris Fraser and Madeline Harris set the teams on their way. All the teams opted to stay in the car park for about 30 minutes after receiving their instructions, working out the clues to the places they had to visit and planning the best, most points-effective route from Shawbury to High Ercall.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Chris and Judy Yates’s estate in High Ercall), work was in hand to prepare for the barbecue; tables and chairs were set out, benches were hauled over walls, and charcoal was lit. The bar arrived with Peter Woollam, and salads and puddings turned up with various members who had chosen not to do the Treasure Hunt.

The first team arrived at The Mill House five minutes before the deadline and the last car to arrive was nine minutes after the deadline. Every minute late incurred a one point penalty. Chris and Madeline found an out of the way spot in which to mark the teams’ answers and to marvel that so much ground had been covered without anyone getting wet, despite it having rained in Wellington and Newport.

Andrew Gordon and Chris Yates were in charge of cooking burgers, chicken and sausages; these were donated by Chris from the Friday evening quarter peals donations. As well as meat, diners were able to choose from a variety of salads - potato, pasta, rice, green - it was all very tasty. And the puddings didn't fail to live up to the Association's dessert reputation either. Not much was left when everyone had finished eating.

Sue Buckingham took over the mantle of raffle supremo from Peter, raising £64 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The winners of the prizes of whisky, wine, chocolates, smellies, soap bag, sauces, and marmalade were Judy Yates, Claire Unsworth, Paul Lewis, Sue Townsend, Peter Watkins, Andrew Gordon and John Willliamson.

Chris Fraser announced the teams’ points and declared a tie for first place between the St Oswald’s Oddities and the Wooden Spoons. Callum Unsworth, representing the Wooden Spoons, and Susan Capey, representing the St Oswald's Oddities, were each presented with a bottle of wine and a box of sweets.

Sue Buckingham thanked Chris and Judy for hosting the barbecue; Tony and Cordelia for devising the Treasure Hunt; Nick Green for supplying the tickets; Chris and Madeline for marking the answers; everyone who had provided a salad or pudding, and everyone who had helped to make the afternoon so enjoyable. About £260 profit was made from ticket sales, and the bar made about £18.

Thanks go to Sue Buckingham for organising a very enjoyable, dry, profitable, afternoon.

The next Association social event will be the Quiz Night on Saturday 8th November, at Shawbury Village Hall.

The next Association practice will be held at Albrighton on Saturday 12th July, from 7pm to 9pm, and will incorporate the Quarterly Meeting.

Winners
Representatives of the winning teams with their prizes
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Now We Are Six (Again)

The tenor at Montford is back to full working order following the completion of a number of repairs. The gudgeon boxes have been fully tightened, the clapper and ground pulley completely refurbished and the wheel repaired. The clapper and pulley box were restored by John Taylor & Co and all other work undertaken by local voluntary labour. The ground pulley has been repositioned slightly such that the rope now falls ‘true’ through the hole in the belfry floor and the latter fitted with a nylon rope boss to ensure smooth running. One of the spokes in the lower half of the wheel had detached from the rim and the end of the spoke was badly split. This has been repaired with a long steel ‘L’ bracket made for the purpose.

This is probably the first repair work of any significance since the bells were installed in 1891. The other five will benefit from similar treatment and it is hoped to deal with them one at a time in the months and years ahead, subject to the willingness of the church to meet half the cost each time with the other half met by grants from our Bell Restoration Fund.

The bells almost completely fill the space available, making it very difficult to move around the belfry. Climbing the rung ladder from the clock room below brings you up directly beneath the tenor. The frame is then mounted some three feet higher and the wheel offers a convenient grab rail when clambering up. There seems a strong likelihood that its continual use in this way has contributed to the damage. Note to steeple-keepers, flag-raisers and the like – do not use wheels as grab rails!

Peter Woollam
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June Surprise Minor Practice

Once again this was held at Moreton Corbet. Nine ringers braved the rain and, under the direction of Chris Fraser, attempted various lengths of Cambridge, Canterbury, Carlisle, Ipswich, Wells, and 6-spliced.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held on Saturday 5th July, probably at Prees. Please check the website closer to the time.

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Another Peal at St Chad's, Shrewsbury

Another Association peal has been rung at St Chad's, Shrewsbury. This peal was rung to mark the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the bells.

This is the tenth peal of the year for the Association.

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May Surprise Major Practice

Thirteen lucky ringers travelled to High Ercall for the May Surprise Major practice. Under the leadership of the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, good attempts were made at Bristol, London, Rutland, Superlative, and Cambridge/Yorkshire/Lincolnshire.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held at St Mary’s, Shrewsbury, on Friday 27th June, from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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Centenary of the Casting of the Bells at St Chad, Shrewsbury

Tuesday 27 May was the 100th anniversary of the dedication service at St Chad’s, Shrewsbury, for the ring of twelve bells, cast and hung by Taylors between February and May 1914. To mark the occasion, former ringers and friends from other Shropshire towers joined the regulars for refreshments after practice. Home-made goodies, an anniversary cake bearing a picture of the church and glasses of bubbly were enjoyed by all, and a happy time was spent recalling past events and achievements.

100th anniversary party

Some of those who have enjoyed St Chad's bells during the last 100 years

This was the occasion, also, to unveil a long overdue peal board which the ringers commissioned to record a Shropshire Association peal rung in 1999 to mark the bicentenary of the first peal in the tower. Former tower member Peter Jarvis, who is a member of St Chad’s church, kindly donated towards the cost of the board in memory of his mother. Unfortunately he was not able to attend the party so instead Brian Kear unveiled the board, which was made and painted by Maggie Willans of Bath.

1999 St Chad Peal Board
Text: Gill Glover
Group photo: Alan Glover
Peal Board photo: Nick Green
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Report of the Central Council Meeting 2014

The annual meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers was held over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend in Maidstone, with both the Association's representatives, Sue Buckingham and Alan Glover, present throughout.

On Saturday there was a chance to ring with famous and infamous ringers on a tour of local towers. At one of these your Ringing Master was delighted to receive helpful advice about Stedman Triples from a conductor young enough to be her grandson. Sue's legendary map-reading ability meant that all the towers were found, but also allowed excursions to several neighbouring counties and select parts of the near Continent.

On Sunday morning we rang at Leeds (Kent, not Yorkshire despite Sue's map-reading). This was where the first extent of Bob Major was rung in 1761, taking 27 hours and requiring 14 ringers. In the afternoon we attended the annual meeting of the Ringing Foundation, which promised to be lively after Steve Coleman's critical comments in the Ringing World, but it turned out to be dull, with the Directors assuring us that they had faith that money would be raised to continue support for the ITTS scheme and for other projects which they could not tell us about.

Monday brought the lengthy meeting of the Council itself. Alan was re-elected as Librarian, maintaining his proud record of never having lost an election in which he is the only candidate. Sue was unsuccessful in her bid to join the Peal Compositions Committee, but is investigating the possibility of joining the Biographies Committee. Those members wishing to include Meson Differential Little Hybrid Maximus in their peals will be pleased to learn that it is now compliant with Council Decisions after we voted to accept 'non-method blocks', being a block of changes that does not constitute a plain lead of a method. It is generally agreed that Dixon's Bob Minor is neither a method nor a non-method.

The Council is to appoint a Public Relations Officer in an attempt to make ringing better known and more attractive to the public at large, and further attempts are being made to provide guidance on recruiting and retaining new ringers.

If any members have questions on the role of the Central Council, its decisions, and the help it can offer, please address them to Sue (master@sacbr.org.uk), before she sets off, map of Scotland in hand, for the 2015 meeting in Hull.

Alan Glover
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May Training Morning

This was held at Edgmond and made good use of the simulator. Ten students and an equal number of tutors turned up ready for a morning of training. The students: were Ernie Martin (Bicton), Arthur Saunders, Jenny Hodnett (both from Shifnal), Peter Hampton, Karen Hampton, Vicki Sivess, Andy Digby (all Meole Brace), Pat Waldron, Jo Smyth (both Tibberton) and Victoria Dombrov (Cheswardine). The tutors: were Tony Freemont (Association Training Officer and director of the day’s proceedings), Edric Broom, Mark Adams, Mike Carding, Kathryn Greaves, Peter Hall, Madeline Harris, Brian Kear, Gail Lawrence and Matthew Lawrence.

The students had several opportunities to practice what they had come for and there was much ringing of call changes and Plain Hunt on five and seven. Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles were also rung, to give more practice at plain hunting. Refreshments were available throughout the morning and included brownies and flapjacks as well as some Italian-style cookies made by Victoria.

Thanks go to Edric for the use of the bells and for preparing the bells and the simulator.

The next Training Morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 27th September from 9:30am to 12:30pm. As there will be a limited number of places available, please contact Tony Freemont if you would like to attend.

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Centenary Peal at Stanton

The ninth peal of the year for the Association has been rung at Stanton upon Hine Heath, and marks the centenary of the first peal on the bells there.

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May Association Practice

Despite the siren lure of a bearded lady, eighteen Association ringers travelled to Newport for the May Association practice. They were met by John Williamson. The Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, directed proceedings, and Grandsire Triples, Plain Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, Middlesex Bob Triples, Rutland Surprise Major, Bristol Surprise Major, London Surprise Major and 8-spliced Surprise Major were all attempted, with varying degrees of success.

Peter Woollam surprised no-one when he produced raffle tickets and prizes. £30 was raised for the BRF and the winners of the prizes were Peter himself, Karen Compton, and Kathryn Greaves. Peter also reminded those present about the proposed minibus trip to the Ringing Roadshow at Newbury Racecourse in September.

The next Association event will be the Treasure Hunt and Barbecue to be held on Saturday 14th June. The Treasure Hunt will start at Shawbury Village Hall car park at 4:15pm and the BBQ will start at 6:30pm at The White House, High Ercall, home of Chris and Judy Yates. You can find all the details about this event on the poster that was sent to all towers with the April Newsletter. Contact Sue Buckingham to get your tickets.

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May Surprise Minor Practice

This was held at Moreton Corbet. Eight ringers made the journey and practised Carlisle, Cambridge, Ipswich, spliced Beverley & Surfleet, and Wells.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held on Saturday 7th June, at Moreton Corbet again.

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Shrewsbury Ringers' Spring Outing

Twenty two ringers from Shrewsbury and environs made their way to Wrexham (Wrecsam) hoping to ring on the fine ten there (the previous attempt to ring at Wrexham had been a lock-out). They were not disappointed. Ringing ranged from call changes through Plain Hunt on 9 and 10, Grandsire Caters, Stedman Caters and, a favourite of Shrewsbury ringers, Little Bob Royal. From Wrexham the group travelled to Gresford. This has an unusual arrangement of bells in that it has two completely separate rings – a 24cwt eight and a 4cwt six. We started on the heavier bells. Plain Bob Triples was rung and Grandsire Triples was going well when a loud thump was heard – the clapper had fallen out of the 7th. The final ring on these bells was Cambridge Surprise Minor on the front six. Once the heavier bells had been lowered and the lighter bells raised, the ringing was Grandsire Doubles, Plain Bob Minor, Stedman Doubles, St Simon’s Bob Doubles and Dixon’s Plain Bob Minor.

By now it was time for lunch, at The Golden Lion at Rosset. The arrangements worked well and our meals were served promptly and hot (where appropriate). There was even time for pudding.

The first tower after lunch was Hope (Yr Hôb). Here the ringing was Kent and Oxford Treble Bob Minor, Plain and Little Bob Minor, Grandsire Doubles, Double Oxford Bob Minor and variable treble Cambridge Surprise Minor. From Hope it was on to Buckley (Bwcle) where the eight bells were put to good use ringing Plain Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, Grandsire Triples and 8-Spliced Surprise Major.

Most of the group had tea at the Waterways Garden Centre at Llan-y-pwll and then travelled to Holt for the final tower of the day. The ringing here was St Simon’s Bob Doubles, Winchendon Place, Cambridge Surprise Minor, Spliced Surprise Minor and another attempt at Dixon’s Minor.

Despite some rain early in the day the weather was mostly fine for our travels. Thanks go to Gill Glover for arranging a very enjoyable day of ringing in North Wales.

Shrewsbury Ringers
Most of the group outside St Chad's, Holt
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The Mobile Belfry at Shallowford House

To help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Lichfield diocesan retreat centre at Shallowford House, in Staffordshire, two quarter peals were rung, including this one by a band of Shropshire Association ringers.

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April Monthly Practice and Quarterly Meeting

These took place at High Ercall. About 30 ringers attended and the ringing included call changes, Plain Hunt on 5, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Triples, Cambridge Surprise Major, Yorkshire Surprise Major and London Surprise Major.

Judy and Chris Yates provided refreshments of tea or coffee and delicious homemade cakes. £24 from the sale of refreshments was donated to the Bell Restoration Fund.

Before the Quarterly Meeting got underway, the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, thanked Judy and Chris for the use of the bells and for providing refreshments.

Marion Lake (Wellington), Rachel and Robert Luckett (Norton-in-Hales), and John Knowles (unattached) were elected as members of the Association. The election of Gordon R Birks prior to a peal attempt at Clive was ratified by the meeting.

As Tony Freemont (Training Officer) was unable to attend the meeting, Sue gave the Training Officer's report. The ITTS Module 1 training which had recently taken place had been well received. A bob calling training session is planned, as is a simulator training session. The next regular Training Morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 17th May from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Contact Tony if you would like to attend.

Peter Woollam (Bell Adviser) reported on recent bell works in the Association area. At Ellesmere the bells have been rehung and have their wheels but no other fittings. It was expected that work would be completed within a week. The weight of the Ellesmere tenor is now 18-0-18. Peter reported that grants from the BRF totalling £5873 had been paid, and further grants totalling £7684 have been approved.

Sue Buckingham reminded the meeting about the Treasure Hunt and Barbecue to be held on Saturday 14th June. Tickets are available from Sue. Members willing to provide a pudding are asked to contact Sue.

Peter announced that he is willing to drive a minibus to the Ringing Roadshow at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday 6th September. The cost, if a 17-seater minibus is fully subscribed, would be about £30 per person, including the entrance fee. Peter would like firm expressions of interest so that he can determine whether or not this is a feasible project.

Under Any Other Business:

Peter Woollam raised £45 for the BRF from the sale of raffle tickets. Prizes of wine and confectionery were won by Sue Buckingham, Brian Kear, Nick Green, Sue Townsend and Adrian Roberts.

Brian Kear was pleased to announce that there are 110 members of the 100+ Club, which means that he can offer six prizes every draw. The winners of the first draw of the year are: Pat Paddock (£50), Mary Anne Oakley (£25), Terry Davies (£15), Marion Lake (£15), Beatrice Cains (£12) and Peter Leigh (£10).

The next Monthly Practice will be held at Newport on Saturday 10th May, from 7pm to 9pm. The next Quarterly Meeting will be held at Albrighton on Saturday 12th July.

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Ellesmere Transformed

The eight bells of St Mary’s rang out again late on the afternoon of Friday 11th April after an absence of more than four months. The bells have had their cannons removed and been tuned at the Whitechapel bell foundry. Nicholson Engineering has fitted them with new steel headstocks and rehung them on ball bearings with all new fittings. The 1712 frame has been retained and looks good for a few more centuries after no more than the tightening of the steel tie-rods. The ropes fall in a smaller and more uniform circle in the ringing room and the sound and the ‘go’ have been transformed - the difference is truly stunning!

Ringing of the Sanctus bell (the 4th) and other chiming options are now initiated by push-button from within the church. The striking of the hours is triggered by a radio-controlled system that is independent of the clock movement and uses the 6th, removing the need always to lower the tenor after ringing.

Parts of the old lath-and-plaster ceiling of the ringing room were lost during removal of a long disused clock pendulum box and other areas were damaged by the creation of new rope holes. More of this has now to be removed so that a new ceiling can be formed and so anyone wanting to visit should contact Tower Captain Terry Davies first. Before and during the absence of the bells, the local band has fitted shutters to the louvres to permit external sound control. A simulator was installed early in 2013 and is to be reinstated, along with a dumb bell that is used in the early training of newcomers.

All of the local band, but in particular Rodney Upton and Peter Leigh, are to be congratulated on their vision and driving force in pursuing the scheme. This has been executed in far less time than anyone could have dreamt when it started with a leaflet drop through every letter box in the town barely 18 months ago. The result was the raising of some £15,000 locally and, perhaps just as importantly, a groundswell of support from the population. A grant of £40,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund followed together with the promise of £5,000 from the Association’s Bell Restoration Fund – the largest such grant ever awarded – and the PCC has met the remaining cost. A substantial saving has been made by the supply of local voluntary labour to assist bellhanger Reg McKenzie who commented more than once that it has been one of the best local teams he has worked with.

This is now a tower where everyone should want to go and ring. Yes, they’re that good!

Peter Woollam
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Another Peal at Ryton

Congratulations to Brynn Hodgson of Codsall who has rung his first peal. This was the eighth peal of the year for the Association.

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A Peal at Clive

The 1001st peal for the Association has been rung at Clive.

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ITTS Comes to the Shropshire Association

The Integrated Teacher Training Scheme (ITTS) is run by the Association of Ringing Teachers (ART) as two modules designed to help ringers learn how to teach ringing. Module 1 is called ‘Teaching Bell Handling’ and is designed to provide the teacher with the skills and techniques necessary to take a new ringer from their first lesson to having competent bell control. Module 2 is called ’Teaching Elementary Change Ringing’ and is designed to provide the teacher with the skills and techniques necessary to teach a ringer basic Change Ringing.

After a delay caused by snow in March 2013, Module 1 of the ITTS was delivered at Oswestry on Saturday 29th March 2014.

Paul Lewis was the tutor for this course and there were seven learner teachers, five mentors, and one observer present as the day got underway.

In a brief interlude before the course got going properly, Richard Major asked the questions ‘How hard do you need to pull a bell rope’ and ‘How do you know if it is too hard or too soft?’ He described designing and implementing a strain gauge which he has attached to the rope of the 5th at Oswestry, and the first results of its use. A possible use for this piece of technology is to allow a student to compare his pull with that of an experienced tutor.

Paul gave a description of the ITTS course and described what the day’s course would include. He then went on to talk about the importance of intensive training, for example forty minutes a day for five consecutive days, rather than 10 minutes once a week, will lead to faster learning. Breaking down the whole action of bell-handling into several smaller parts, and the phrases used by ringing teachers were also discussed. An automatic (learned) action will not be forgotten but it will be difficult to change.

Testing whether a rope is down Starting to handle Working in groups
Testing for a down bell Starting to get a feel for the bell Working in groups

Up in the ringing room, the importance of health and safety was discussed including how to test that a bell is down. The use of the hand ring exercise was described and there was a demonstration of handling, with the teacher holding the coils of a down bell while the student pulled the sally and the teacher let out the coils appropriately. The whole group broke up into five smaller groups with a teacher, mentor and observer in each group. They practised teaching using the methods described by Paul.

Hand ring exercise Hand ring exercise Hand ring exercise
Paul demonstrating the hand ring technique

Lunch was eaten al fresco in the garden of the Tourist Information Office. Further discussions about bell handling continued.

Lunch outside Lunch outside

Lunch al fresco

After lunch there was another theory session about how people learn and the different ways a teacher has to be able to adapt to the learner. The importance of changing unwanted actions and reinforcing correct actions was stressed. Communication is a key issue.

Up in the ringing room again there was more practice at raising and lowering and the use of nibbling up the rope. Paul showed part of a DVD produced by the ART on teaching bell handling. A final session in the ringing room was for the group to look at each other’s handling and try and spot the faults. All the participants were brave enough for this exercise!

The group and tutor

Summing up

During the closing session Paul described what the next steps for teachers and mentors would be. He also suggested that the group might like to get together again in a few months. Participants were asked to complete a feedback form.

Thanks go to Tony Freemont (Association Training Officer) for organising the day, the use of the bells and providing tea, coffee and biscuits during the day.

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March Surprise Major Practice

This practice was held at Edgmond with sixteen ringers participating. They turned their hands to Rutland, London, Pudsey, 2-spliced, 8-spliced, and Belfast.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held at High Ercall on Friday, 30th May from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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A Ringing Master’s Lament (or how we scored the Association’s 1,000th peal)

On Sunday, 23rd March, a group of twelve (some slightly nervous) ringers met to attempt a peal of Grandsire Cinques at St Chad, Shrewsbury. The peal was scored after 3 hours 29 minutes, a very creditable performance, considering that some in the band were inexperienced on higher numbers - three of them were ringing their first peal on twelve bells.

The peal was called in a masterly fashion by Nick, and any small trips were quickly corrected. The performance was not without incident. After an hour or so the sun put in an appearance, and Bill, Edric and Jacqui were, in turn, lit up like Christmas trees. Not only was Jacqui unable to see the other bells, but could not see her sally either, and said afterwards that she thought, “If I miss it and we lose the peal because of this, they’ll kill me” She was perfectly correct! Andrew meanwhile, on the tenor, had the pleasure of the hot sun on his back for a couple of hours, and by the end was a potential candidate for the Association’s Mr Wet Tee-Shirt competition, a disturbing experience for the rest of the band! Gareth’s rope became partly untucked halfway through the peal, causing the writer to completely forget what she was doing, fearing the rest would follow and we would be unable to continue. A quick word with Alan on the treble, a rock in a crisis, quickly put her back on track.

The band consisted of the Association Ringing Master, four previous Ringing Masters, several past and present Committee members and one of the Association’s youngest members (i.e. under 50). The rest were press-ganged into service owing to their uncanny ability to handle a bell (one of whom told me afterwards never to ask him again!).

Well done everyone.

Sue Buckingham
1000th peal band

The band in ringing order, clockwise from front right

Photo by Nick Green
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A Peal at Ryton

The 999th peal for the Association has been rung at Ryton.

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March Association Practice

This was held at Lilleshall. Fifteen ringers were present and under the direction of the Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, they rang rounds, Grandsire Doubles, St Simon's Bob Doubles, spliced St Simon's Bob Doubles and St Martin's Bob Doubles, Stedman Doubles, Kent Treble Bob Minor, Cambridge Surprise Minor, London Surprise Minor, Norwich Surprise Minor, and Primrose Surprise Minor.

In Peter Woollam's absence Sue peddled raffle tickets, and was able persuade those present to buy enough tickets to raise £21 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The winners of the prizes of chocolates and wine were Mark Adams, Victoria Dombrov, and Madeline Harris.

The next Association Monthly Practice will be held on Saturday 5th April at High Ercall from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. and will include the April Quarterly Meeting. Please note that this Practice and Meeting will be held on the first Saturday of the month rather than the more usual second Saturday of the month. Please also note that, beginning with the April practice, the Association Monthly Practices will run from 7.00pm to 9.00pm.

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Still Trading

It’s not unusual for ringers to find themselves looking after the church clock and many will have experience of dealing with J B Joyce of Whitchurch when it comes to repair and maintenance. I am grateful to Ann Williams (Atcham) for drawing my attention to a recent Shropshire Star article reporting that Joyce’s premises have been put up for sale.

I telephoned their number, only to be re-directed to the main office of Smith of Derby. Some of you will know that Smiths took the company over many years ago, though the Whitchurch business continued trading under the Joyce name. This remains true today, though the difficult business environment has forced the closure of the local premises, with activity now being centred at Derby.

If you need to get in touch with the company, you can still use the Whitchurch number and will be re-directed. You can also dial the Derby office direct at 01332 345569, email enquiries@smithofderby.com or visit the website www.smithofderby.com. Some will remember dealing with Keith Cotton, for many years the manager of the Whitchurch site. He still lives in the area and works for the company and can be contacted on his mobile phone at 07800 689408.

Peter Woollam
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March Surprise Minor Practice

This was held at Calverhall and ten ringers participated, including one ringer from across the border with Cheshire. Under the direction of Chris Fraser, Cambridge, London, Norwich, Primrose, and York were attempted, with quite a high degree of success.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held at Atcham on Saturday 5th April, from 10am to 12noon.

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Annual Report 2013 and Handbook 2014

The SACBR Report 2013 and Handbook 2014 has now been published and is being distributed to towers.

The Statement of Accounts (page 7 of the Report) does not faithfully reflect the Statement of Accounts presented at the AGM in January. A more accurate rendering of the Association's Balance Sheet can be found here.

If your band has any spare copies, maybe because members have moved away, or because two people sharing the same address are willing to share one copy of the Report, please return them to Chris Fraser or any Committee member. Requests for copies of the Report are received during the year from ringers from outside the Association. A charge is made for supplying these copies, helping to offset the cost of producing the report.

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February Training Morning

The first Association Training Morning of 2014 took place at Edgmond Ringing Centre. The students were Arthur Saunders, Christine Harris (both from Shifnal), Peter Hall (Cheswardine), Ernie Martin (Bicton) and Robert Pride (Shrewsbury). They turned up hoping to get help with bell handling, plain hunting, Plain Bob Doubles, Grandsire Doubles and Grandsire Triples. The Association’s Training Officer, Tony Freemont, was assisted by Mark Adams, Jacqui Barden, Sue Buckingham, John Burton, Alan Glover, Gill Glover, Madeline Harris, Peter Neil and Cordelia Warr.

In addition to the methods already mentioned, call changes, Plain Bob Minor and a touch of Stedman Triples were also rung. Tea, coffee, brownies and flapjacks were available throughout the morning. Thanks go to Edric Broom for making the bells available, and to Mark Adams for getting the bells and the simulator ready.

The next Training Morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 17 May, from 9:30am to 12:30pm. Contact Tony Freemont if you would like to participate

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First Peal Congratulations

The fourth peal of the year for the Association has been rung. This was the first peal for Bill Price of Atcham, and also the first peal as conductor for Ann Williams, also of Atcham. Congratulations to them both.

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February Surprise Major Practice

Ten ringers made the journey to Oswestry for this practice. Unfortunately, because of a technological glitch with the simulator, the only ringing accomplished (other than ringing up and down) was a plain course of Yorkshire Surprise Major. This was almost silently rung – only the tenor could be heard above the thud of the muffled clappers.

The next Surprise Major practice will be held at Edgmond on Friday, 28th March from 7:30pm to 9:00pm.

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Remembering Alan Fisher

A peal has been rung at Wellington to remember Alan Fisher who was instrumental in forming a new band of ringers at Wellington.

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February Association Practice

This was held at Edgmond and fifteen ringers attended. The Ringing Master, Sue Buckingham, directed proceedings. The ringing included Grandsire Doubles, St Simon's Bob Doubles, Grandsire Triples, Single Oxford Bob Triples, Stedman Triples, Little Bob Major, Yorkshire Major, and 6-spliced.

In Peter Woollam's absence Tony Freemont sold raffle tickets, raising £24 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prize winners were Madeline Harris and Natasha Compton. They took home biscuits and toffee.

Thanks go to Maureen and Edric Broom for providing tea, coffee and biscuits, and for ensuring that the church was warm.

The next Association practice will be held at Lilleshall on Saturday 8th March from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. All ringers are welcome.

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January Surprise Major Practice

This was held at High Ercall and was very well attended, with fifteen ringers present. Sue Buckingham directed proceedings, and plain courses of Bristol, Cambridge, London, Rutland and Yorkshire were rung, plus 3-spliced and 8-spliced.

The next Surprise Major practice is due to be held on Friday 28th February at Oswestry.

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Yet Another First at Wellington

Congratulations to David Scurr for ringing his first quarter peal.

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Another Birthday Peal

The second peal of the year for the Association has been rung; this one marks Barry Lewis's 65th birthday.

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More Firsts at Wellington

Congratulations to Vic Young for ringing his first quarter peal. This was also the first quarter peal on an inside bell for Marion Lake.

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Wem Has Its New Tenor

The cracked tenor at St Peter & St Paul has now been replaced with a second-hand bell acquired through the Keltek Trust. The replacement was cast by Taylor's in 2000 for a church in Leicestershire but, after something of a convoluted saga, ended up being offered for sale in 2012. Taylor's visited last October and removed the old bell by breaking it up in the belfry. Cast by Thomas Rudhall of Gloucester in 1768, it developed a crack in the soundbow and received a welded repair in 1989. Unfortunately, it cracked again in the same place some 10 years later and a proposal to deal with this as part of the Millennium celebrations came to nothing. Tower Captain Sarah Dean asked Peter Woollam, Bell Adviser, to inspect the installation in 2012 at a time when the church was launching an appeal to raise some £140,000 to address problems with the tower stonework, the roof, the organ and - maybe - the bell.

Peter found that the original casting was of poor quality and advised against a second welded repair, something that Soundweld had offered to do "at less than cost price for £1,100”. Taylor's quote to cast and hang a brand new bell for £17,000 seemed prohibitively expensive. By good fortune, the replacement was then advertised for £5,000, Darren Pickett of Cockshutt being the first to spot that it might be suitable. Peter made further enquiries and, when David Kelly of the Keltek Trust obtained full tonal analyses and expressed the view that it would be a better match for the other seven than the old bell, the PCC decided to proceed. There were then some delays in obtaining the necessary Faculties - not so much by Wem as by the church that had originally commissioned the bell and hadn't recognised the need for such permission to sell.

Wem Tenor

The 'new' bell weighs 13-2-24, a little over 1cwt heavier than the old and has a luxurious vine leaf border cast on the shoulder. Wem has had the inscription from the old bell added in raised relief on the waist:

I TO THE CHURCH THE LIVING CALL AND TO
THE GRAVE DO SUMMON ALL T(foundry mark)R
1768

Regular Sunday Service and weekly practice ringing continues and the band is particularly looking forward to the installation of its new vicar, Nicholas Heron (formerly chaplain at RAF Shawbury) on 20th February. It is to be hoped that a quarter peal can be arranged soon afterwards - at least one local ringer would like to take part and I hear on the grapevine that there may be a couple of defections to Wem from the Shawbury/Stanton/Moreton Corbet triangle.

Text and photo by Peter Woollam
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A Birthday Peal

The first peal of the year for the Association has been rung to mark Ann Williams's 70th birthday.

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Association Practice and AGM - 11th January 2014

The January Association practice was held at St Mary's church, Shawbury. About forty ringers met for call changes, Grandsire Doubles, Stedman Doubles, multiple Doubles, and Cambridge Surprise Minor prior to the Service of Thanksgiving.

The service was led by Revd. David Humphries assisted by the Bishop of Shrewsbury, The Rt Revd Mark Rylands; the organist was Frances Medley.

The ringers were joined by thirteen more Association members in Shawbury Village Hall where a delicious hot meal was waiting. Chris Fraser and her team had prepared Moroccan Mince, Butternut Squash and Goats' Cheese Stew, boiled rice and baked potatoes, and these were served with crusty bread and salad. This was followed by Eton Mess and a variety of cheesecakes plus tea and coffee. As is to be expected from a group of ringers, there was very little food left at the end of the meeting.

Sue Buckingham, Ringing Master, introduced Bishop Mark who thanked the Association for its ministry in north Shropshire and got the meetings underway.

At the Quarterly Meeting which preceded the AGM, the following were elected as members of the Association: Eric Pilling, Steve Davies (Bicton), Andy Wilson (Church Stretton), Dale Web, Matthew Newson (Edgmond), Matthew Lawrence, Gail Lawrence (Lilleshall), David Clarke (Market Drayton), David Balchin, Hamish Cansdale, Andy Digby, David Groves, Peter Hampton, Karen Hampton, Peter Jenkins, Clive Morris, John Peppiatt, Vicki Sivess (Meole Brace), Jenny Vickers (Tibberton).

After the usual business of apologies, minutes of the last AGM, and matter arising from the Minutes, Sue Buckingham gave her Ringing Master's report. Sue touched briefly on the highlights of the year, including: the highest number of peals rung in one year for the Association since 1984; quarter peal ringing had flourished with first quarters for Natasha Compton (Shawbury), Matthew Newson (Edgmond), Ben Roper (Hinstock), and Colin Jones, Marion Lake and Alan Price (Wellington); the new band being formed at Meole Brace by Mike Carding; two enjoyable social events had been held, but both had been poorly supported by the membership; the awarding of £40,000 by the Heritage lottery Fund for the refurbishment of the bells at Ellesmere; the Striking Competition held at Calverhall; the visit of the Princess Royal to Edgmond for her installation as the Chancellor of Harper Adams University; and the Carol Service at Wellington. Sue thanked all the committee members who work so hard for the Association, and all those who support the meetings and practices during the year.

Susan Capey (Treasurer) presented the accounts of the Association, which were approved by the meeting. The Independent Examiners, Brian Kear and Karen Compton, had approved the accounts. Susan proposed a motion from the committee that the annual subscription to the Association be raised to £8 (with £3 going to the General Fund and £5 going to the Bell Restoration Fund) with effect from 1st January 2015. The motion was seconded and approved by those present. The concessionary rate would remain at £5.

Peter Woollam (Bell Adviser) gave his usual detailed report. Grants had been given to Meole Brace and Ellesmere, for the purchase of simulators. Peter reported on the state of progress at Oswestry, Shifnal, Clive, Wem, Ellesmere, Montford and Kemberton. Peter's tip for steeplekeepers in 2014 - keep an eye on the state of the fabric of the church building when you are up among the bells. Leaking roofs can damage bell installations.

Chris Fraser (Report Editor) reported that she was waiting to hear from two advertisers. She hoped that the proof-readers would have fewer corrections to make this year than last.

Peter gave the Librarian's report. He reported the purchase of a copy of Chris Pickford's publication about bellframes. Peter also talked about the quarter peal statistics for 2013.

Tony Freemont (Training Officer) reported on the success of the Training mornings held during the year. Tony thanked, especially, Edric Broom and Mark Adams for their help at Edgmond, and all those who came along and helped with the training sessions. Tony mentioned the other opportunities for training - Surprise Minor, Surprise Major, and 3rd Wednesday morning practices. The next Training morning will be held at Edgmond on Saturday 15th February. Module 1 of the ITTS is designed to teach people to teach handling. This training will be held at Oswestry on Saturday 29th March, led by Paul Lewis. Richard Major commented that he had attended a Module 1 session in Hexham and he would recommend it. Peter Woollam said that another session on tower maintenance could be held, if there was sufficient interest. Contact Tony if you would like to participate in any of the Association's training opportunities.

Madeline Harris (PRO) reported that twenty six towers received the quarterly newsletter by email; she gave a brief mention of the press coverage of several local ringing projects, and also that there appeared to have been no negative reporting of ringing in the local press.

Chris Fraser (Children and Vulnerable Adults Protection Officer) reported that her only duty during the year had been to discover how, and if, the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) would affect holders of CRB certificates. Her conclusion is that any CRB certificate issued prior to 1 Dec 2012 is still valid, and rechecks are not automatically necessary. Each Parish has its own Child Protection Officer, and it may be worth consulting them in case they would prefer a check to be completed.

Madeline Harris (LDMB Trustee) reported on the activities of the Mobile Belfry, and mentioned that helpers are needed to help with the towing and erecting of the Mobile Belfry.

Sue Buckingham, as one of the Central Council Representatives, reported that the CC meeting had been held in Guildford, and the main emphasis of the meeting was on recruitment and retention of ringers.

Elections for the Committee for 2014 were held. The only changes from the 2013 Committee are the Lichfield Diocesan Mobile Belfry Trustees. Edric Broom and Biff Patterson were persuaded to stand and were duly elected. The election of Central Council Representatives was due this year, and both Alan Glover and Sue Buckingham had indicated their willingness to continue as the Association's representatives. They, too, were duly elected.

During Any Other Business, Andrew Gordon reported that, following the death of Alan Fisher, Colin Jones and Rob Davis have been appointed Tower Captain and Ringing Master, respectively, at Wellington. Rodney Upton displayed a very worn bearing taken from the tower at Ellesmere when the bells were removed.

The nine Association ringers who had died during the year were remembered.

The meeting was closed by Bishop Mark with a prayer.

Sue thanked Chris Fraser and her team for the delicious meal, Rev David Humphries for taking the Service, and Bishop Mark for chairing the meeting.

Peter Woollam sold raffle tickets raising £102 for the Bell Restoration Fund. The prizes of confectionery and alcohol were won by Barry Lewis, Lynne Hall, Cordelia Warr, Peter Hall, John Burton, Trisha Mitchell, Andrew Gordon, Mark Adams, Sue Buckingham, and Kathryn Greaves.

The final draw of the year in the 100+ Club was made by Brian Kear who reported that about £650 will have been made for the BRF, about £100 less than in 2012. Brian urged those present to persuade more members to sign up to the 100+ Club. The winners were: £50 - Arthur Saunders (Shifnal), £25 - Mary Ann Oakley (Ruyton-XI-Towns), £15 - Diana Barnett, £12 - Madeline Harris (Market Drayton); £10 - Edric Broom (Edgmond).

The next AGM will be held at Ellesmere on Saturday 10th January 2015. The next Quarterly meeting will be held at High Ercall on Saturday 5th April starting at 7pm.

AGM cooks Members in hall
The cooks - Chris Fraser, Claire Unsworth, Karen Compton Association members preparing for the AGM
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January Surprise Minor Practice

This was held at Stanton-upon-Hine Heath and fourteen ringers participated, under the direction of Chris Fraser. Three ringers from Wellington attended and made their first attempts at ringing treble bob hunt, to Cambridge. The other methods rung were Carlisle, London and Norwich.

The next Surprise Minor practice will be held at Ruyton-XI-Towns on Saturday 1st February, from 10am to 12 noon.

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Firsts at Wellington

Congratulations to Colin Jones, Marion Lake and Alan Price for ringing their first quarter peal. This was also the first quarter peal on an inside bell for Nicola Adams. Congratulations also go to Cynthia Hedley and Susan Turnbull for ringing their first quarter peal. This was also her first quarter peal on an inside bell for Sharon Collins.
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