On Saturday 13 May ringers from all eight branches of the Salisbury DG converged on the market town of Wimborne Minster for the Guild Annual Festival and AGM. This was the ninth time that the Dorset market town had hosted the Guild, the first in 1901 and the last in 1976 and what a splendid day the East Dorset branch put on. A good collection of ringers spent the morning at open towers on two routes into Wimborne which started at Winterborne Kingston and Shillingstone before converging on the splendid 12 bells of the Minster. As we are predominately a Guild of six bell towers a large proportion of those ringing had not rung on twelve before or very rarely, so there was plenty of rounds and Plain Hunt on 11 with more experienced ringers keeping things steady. The service touch was of Grandsire Cinques.
The Festival service was held in the magnificent surroundings of the Minster and was conducted by the Rector, the Reverend Canon Vanessa Herrick. We were delighted to welcome Councillors Robin and Sue Cook, the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Wimborne, to the service. The sermon was given by the Right Reverend Karen Gorham, the Bishop of Sherborne and a Vice Patron of the Guild, attending her first Guild Festival since her appointment. The service was a wonderfully uplifting mixture of music, prayer and readings: the organ was played magnificently by David Warwick, who had also assembled a choir from local branch ringers who sang an anthem The Lord is my Shepherd to a setting by Howard Goodall. The hymns were Let bells peal forth the universal fame; O God who madest time and space; Christ is our cornerstone and the final hymn Ring the bells and tell the story which was particularly rousing. The first reading was given by Ben Duke, the East Dorset Branch Chairman, and the second reading was a fine delivery of the poem The Bampton Bells given by Judith Williamson, the Guild President. During the intercessions we remembered those Guild members who had died since our last Festival, before Plain Bob Major was rung on handbells by Trish Hitchins, Kathy Bentley, Alan Bentley and David Warwick.
The meeting and tea were held in the splendid modern surroundings of the Queen Elizabeth’s School. The Master, Robert Wellen, opened the meeting by welcoming members and thanking the East Dorset branch for its arrangements. He commented on our ‘vibrant branches’ and thanked all our branch officers. He then highlighted the importance of this annual Festival in bringing us together as ‘one Guild’ and directed attention to the recent review into the format of the day undertaken by the President. The key elements of the meeting were: Christopher Jenkins (Westbury) – received the Award for Adult Ringer of the Year and Jack Pease (Hampreston) for Junior Ringer of the Year; other nominees were also recognised: (adult) – Caroline Taylor (Dorchester), Paul Sims (Great Bedwyn), Sue Barrance (Whitchurch Canonicorum) and (junior) – Eli Mondal (Westwood) and Ian Daykin (Damerham); subscriptions for 2018 were agreed (unchanged from 2017); Honorary Life Membership of the Guild was awarded to Robert (Bob) Plaskett (Downton), Basil Dent (Burton Bradstock) and, with 50 years membership, to Christopher Barnes (Aldbourne); minor rule changes were agreed; there were reports on young ringer activities across the Guild; all existing Guild Officers were re-elected, except that Robert Wellen resumed his post as Publicity Officer, David Close was elected to the newly created office of Health and Safety Officer and Harry Brockway was elected Financial Examiner. Under AOB, Viv Endecott, a ringer from Lytchett Matravers, suggested ringing for ceremonies when people take an oath of allegiance on becoming British citizens. Congratulations were extended to the Guild team that won the Tewkesbury Shield for the second year in succession earlier in May: David Warwick and Tom Garrett spoke about the experience. The meeting then concluded with a lively discussion on the Council Review Action Group (CRAG) report – an opportunity for members to share their views with our Guild Central Council Representatives before this year’s Central Council meeting in Edinburgh.
At the conclusion of the meeting around 60 members sat down to a really ‘sumptuous’ tea provided by the hard working catering team: what a spread!! And what a wonderful way to end a marvellous day: I even heard the words ‘Guild Festival’ and ‘exciting’ in the same sentence!
Robert Wellen – Guild Publicity Officer