Officers of the Ladies' Guild

President:  Alison Williams email alison_at_rkw.me.uk

Guild Secretary: Rosemary Hemmings email khemmings123_at_btinternet.com

Guild Treasurer:  Mrs Teresa Brown e-mail teresa.mbrown2011_at_gmail.com

Guild Archivist: Janet Stevenson email dj.stevenson7_at_ntlworld.com

Web Mistress: Janet Garnett email janet.garnett_at_metapurple.co.uk

Annual Report Compiler: Margaret Ingman email margaret.parishmag_at_gmail.com

Central Council Represenatatives: Rosemary Hemmings, Alison Williams, Jan Wyatt.

A job description for the Guild President, and a summary of the rules concerning elections, is available here.

Contacts

Ladies' Guild Garments: Contact Jan Wyatt email: janwyatt_at_live.co.uk

History of the Ladies' Guild: Contact Janet Stevenson email dj.stevenson7_at_ntlworld.com

Display materials: Contact Janet Stevenson email dj.stevenson7_at_ntlworld.com

Ladies' Guild Holiday: Contact Pearl Jeanes email pearl.jeanes365_at_gmail.com

Officers' Reports for 2018

PRESIDENT’S PIECE by Helen Webb

The purpose of the Ladies Guild is to encourage women and girls to develop their ringing skills, and to provide opportunities to do so in an encouraging and supportive environment.  We are not always able to reciprocate to those who helped us progress in our ringing, but we can pass on that goodwill to others.  In the past year it has been great to observe those members who do make the effort by organising opportunities and providing the support to help others progress, often giving up much of their time to do so.
  
In May last year I attended an East Midlands district meeting, principally to meet with Janet Stevenson and Margaret Ingman to discuss the Guild archives – of which there has been great progress in the last year thanks to their work!  As a result of a conversation with June Stanley that day, another outcome was the quarter peal day in Derbyshire in August, ably organised by June and attended by members of the East Midlands, North Western, and South Eastern districts, providing opportunities for members to score quarter peals.  And an outcome of a conversation on that day, was a conducting training day held at Eckington, Derbyshire, in January this year; this was organised and led by Jane Lynch of North Western district, and attended by members from North Western, Marches, East Midlands, Eastern, and South Eastern districts; since the course five of those who attended have called a “first” – either calling a quarter peal for the first time, or calling plain bob for the first time.

The first weekend in September I travelled to Western district for the presentation of the Dorothy L Sayers Society Young Ladies Guild Ringer Award 2018.  The presentation to Alex Durrant, held at St Michael’s, Clapton in Gordano, was well attended by members of Western district; the presentation included an introduction to the church by Jan Wyatt, a reading from “The Nine Taylors” by members of the DLS Society, and a ringing performance with Alex and other members of Western district in the band.  

On the first weekend of October last year, members from several districts converged on Halifax, West Yorkshire, for a Guild quarter peal weekend: this was organised by Jane Lynch, and, with all of the quarter peals attempts booked for the Saturday morning, was followed by a practice on the 12 at Bradford Cathedral in the afternoon.  Quote of the weekend: “Where’s Peterborough?!”. 

2018 was a year of celebration and commemoration.  Back in 2017 a query from English Heritage was passed to us concerning ringing 100 peals to celebrate the centenary of some women in the UK first getting the right to vote in 1918.  This was not a realistic  target, and neither was it inclusive.  Instead, we had the challenge to ring 100 quarter peals.  This target was met on 31st December.  The Guild would not have been in sight of the target without the magnificent effort of Eastern district who scored 53 of them, and to put this into perspective the average number of quarter peals rung by the Guild each year over the past ten years has been about 30.  I didn’t want this to be a tick box exercise and it was great to see that a number of firsts were scored, including on the final day.  

The challenge for this year is "Getting Your Voice Heard".  The object of the challenge is to increase the calling capabilities of the members of the Guild: the challenge encompasses all levels of calling and applies to all members.  Some people may want to have a go at starting to call, or calling at the next level from where they are at the moment; some people may want to develop their skills and confidence at several levels. 

Make no assumptions that just because someone has not yet expressed an interest in calling that they are not willing to have a try: if they have never been asked what their aspirations are, they may not realise that they have the right to aspire!                 

There is a second element to this challenge: to use these skills learned at Ladies Guild events in our home towers and in our territorial districts.  This is not a challenge with a number for a target; some events are recorded i.e. quarter peals, but districts may wish to keep a record of what members achieve at their practices and training events.  
     
GUILD SECRETARY’S REPORT by Rosemary Hemmings

Last year’s AGM was held at the village of Charlton near Shaftsbury and was hosted by the Southern District who did a very good job at making us all welcome.  There was ringing at towers in the neighbourhood beforehand and ringing in Shaftsbury afterwards.  The meeting was attended by 48 members up on 38 for the year before.  The total membership of the Guild stands at 408 compared to 409 for the year before.    

The Guild has been very active during the year the target to ring 100 quarter peals in celebration of women gaining the right to vote was exceeded.  Congratulations to everyone who took part.  Let’s hope that this year’s initiative “getting your voice heard” is as successful.  

There have been several national events for members to attend; the quarter peal weekend in Halifax last October provided an opportunity to ring at Halifax and at Bradford Cathedral.  The holiday  to the Worcestershire area included ringing at Pershore Abbey and a visit to Worcester and was very enjoyable.  The quarter peal day at St Clement Danes was successful with two quarter peals being scored and a welcome opportunity to ring on 10 bells.  

The AGM this June is being hosted by the East Midlands District at Clarborough near Retford and I will be there to take the minutes of the meeting.

Officers' Reports for 2017

HELEN’S WORDS by Helen Webb, President

There have been a number of national Guild events since the AGM in 2017, and it has been great to see members attending from many of the districts.

Eastern district organised an enjoyable and successful evening for the presentation of the Dorothy L Sayers Young Ladies Guild Ringer Award to Carmen Wright, in September; there were nearly 30 people at Thornham Magna in Suffolk, including members of the Dorothy L Sayers Society, but the majority were ringers.  Seona Ford, Chair of the DLS Society, commented that it was the best supported event so far: the bar has now been set!  

A week later, over 20 of us from seven of the districts in the UK converged on Liverpool for the weekend; Dawn Neville of North Western district had arranged for us to not only ring quarter peals at Penny Lane, but also to attend the 12-bell practices at Pier Head and Liverpool Cathedral; the latter are particularly challenging bells to ring, but we rose to it!  The weekend was a success and another is planned for this October, this time in Halifax.

In April, seven of us, plus an associated laddie, met at Crayford, Kent, for a peal attempt of Cambridge Surprise Major.  The first peal of Surprise Major by the Guild was rung at Crayford on 31st March 1928; 31st March this year was Holy Saturday, so we arranged the anniversary attempt for the following week.  After 87 minutes the ringing was stood up; two of the bells had swapped, with such impeccable politeness that it went unnoticed at the time; after having a rest, we scored a quarter peal.  Thank you to the rest of the band: it's only by luck that 90 years ago the first peal of Surprise Major by the Guild was rung near to where I live; five members of the band did not have such short and convenient journeys.  

November and January saw us at St Clements Danes, with which the Guild has a long association.  In November, we held a 10-bell practice in what now seems to be our slot on the day of the Lord Mayors Show; this practice was attended by nearly 30 members, from four of the districts.  The practices at St Clement Danes are usually a minimum of three hours; this may seem a long time, but many people travel a long distance to support these practices, and there is the benefit of having more opportunities to ring and to consolidate learning.  In January this year, only two of the four quarter peal attempts were scored.  

Losing quarter peals can be disappointing, but when we achieve a high standard of ringing together, there is some compensation.  These quarter peals were rung for the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the Peoples' Act which became law on 6th February 1918, and by which some women in the UK first got the vote: to celebrate this, we have a goal for 100 Ladies Guild quarter peals to be rung this year.   How many firsts - quarter peal, in method, calling - can we help each other to get?
                                                                                             
GUILD SECRETARY’S REPORT by Rosemary Hemmings 
 
During the year I have carried out the role for the Guild; this included taking the minutes at the AGM at Bexhill last June.  This was somewhere I had never been to before so it was a good chance to have a look around the town prior to the meeting.   The AGM was attended by 38 members down on the 52 for the year before.  

 I have forwarded to the district secretaries the membership forms that have been sent to me by ladies wishing to join the guild.

 I have been updating the peal book; there were two peals rung last year and that brought the total of peals rung by the Guild to 71.   The first peal was rung on July 10th 1912 at Christ Church, Cubit Town and was Grandsire Triples. 
 
 In May I will be going, as one of our representatives,  to the Central Council meeting in Lancaster and on 16th  June I will be at our AGM .
                                                                                                         

THE LADIES’ GUILD ARCHIVES  Janet Stevenson

I am sure each District has the minutes of meetings and records of towers rung and events held. These are the local archives and, as such things as minute books become full they need to be sent to the national archives which contain the records of Districts which are now active and also those which  have come and gone in the last 106 years.  These tell many stories and I was able to collect some of them together for the two books telling the history of the first hundred years of the Guild.*(see below) However, these do not tell the whole story as I am discovering.

The National Archive is not all held in one place. The peal book is with the National Secretary and she is keeping it up to date with records from the website. The President’s Badge of Office, a bell and gavel for controlling the AGM,  a President’s stole which was lovingly embroidered with the Guild Badge by a past member and an embroidered tablecloth are held by the current president..  There are other items of regalia which are displayed in a bookcase in the ringing room at Portishead, such as old silver badges of past members.  There are some of those which seem to have gone walkabout, so if anyone knows where they are please let me know.

We also have several boxes of correspondence especially from the 1950s to 70s which tell stories behind the celebratory dinners, ringing achievements and awards. There are the discussions, opinions and priorities behind the organisation of AGMS and the rising cost of living recorded in the accounts, and of course obituaries, which are all important social history. There are also many fascinating photographs, and accounts of the many national holidays and district outings. The annual reports are almost all there with just a few gaps from earlier years and it is interesting to see how they have developed.

These archives have been carefully looked after for many years by Mary Matthews, and have now been handed over to me as her health fails.  We are also living through a digital revolution when the notes and postcards giving a flavour of a past era will disappear, as they are now in the form of deleted emails and forgotten Facebook messages. However it is important that the main facts and personalities are remembered for future generations to understand how the Guild was run. Our website is an important archive and we need to store its contents up in The Cloud, but how long will we have the hardware to access it?  This needs thought.
cont/
I have been sorting through the correspondence of previous decades and am gradually listing it on my computer, I will endeavour to get it all into some form of storage which can be passed on to my successors. It is a little worrying how often we have expended time, effort and money re-inventing the wheel because the actions of past members have not been known.

We are all responsible for keeping the archive up to date, by being aware that it exists and not letting valuable knowledge and artefacts disappear into a skip or the ether. If you are clearing a house of a past member, or see an obituary in the Ringing World and know the relatives, please send anything you find relating to the Guild to me or at least let me know you have it. Thank you to those district secretaries who continue to send me their newsletters.

*A History of the Ladies Guild 1912-2000
*Millennium to Centenary : The Ladies Guild 2001-2012
Books by Janet Stevenson, and available from her or your District Secretary.

Officers' Reports for 2016

PRESIDENT’S PIECE Helen Webb

When I took the chair at the AGM in 2016, I said that I was very conscious of the honour in being elected President, and of the legacy that we have from the women who formed the Guild and who have worked to maintain it so that it exists over a century later. Sadly, three former Presidents have been called home to rest in the past year; although each passing creates a sense of loss, it has also been the opportunity to recall the contributions of these women. Few of us can hope to emulate the achievements of Jill Staniforth, but we should each strive to achieve our own potential.

During the AGM last year, we did a goal-setting workshop. How did you get on? I for one did not achieve my goal of learning specific methods; I did learn quite a few methods, all with Julie McDonnell in the name! It does mean that I have improved my skill in learning methods, but that is just one step in the process because ringing truly is a team activity: without the rest of the band we cannot achieve; our capabilities cannot be demonstrated in a solo performance.

In February 2014, I organised the first of the Guild 10-bell practices at St Clement Danes, Westminster; in January this year, members from eight of the nine districts in the UK converged on St Clement Danes to ring 10-bell quarter peals; these were the first by the Guild for nearly fourteen years. 
 
According to Bellboard, the number of quarter peals rung by the Guild in the centenary year of 2012, was 68; although we haven't yet achieved an annual total above 40 since then, the totals are significantly higher than before 2012. In 2012, I started organising multi-district quarter peal days in the south of England; one consequence of this has been an increase in the number of Ladies Guild quarter peals rung by members of, for example, South Eastern district. 
 
Both of these examples demonstrate that once we have proved that we can do it - in this case ring and conduct quarter peals - as a Guild, or as a multi-district collaboration, the capability and the confidence within the districts increases...so, I look forward to seeing 10-bell quarter peals being rung by multi-district and district bands!

GUILD SECRETARY'S REPORT by Rosemary Hemmings

During the year of 2016 – 2017 I have carried out the job of the Guild Secretary. This started with taking the Minutes of the AGM at Timsbury last June.

I have dealt with the correspondence of the Guild that comes my way including new member applications and subscriptions that have been passed to the District Secretaries or Guild Officers as needed. Most of the correspondence that I receive is by email nowadays. I have kept in touch with events and ringing achievements by looking at the Guild Website and the members Facebook page. Both of which I think are very good.

On the 17th of June I will be at the Guild AGM in Bexhill to take the minutes of the meeting.

Officers' Reports for 2015

PRESIDENT’S PIECE by Elizabeth Davey

This is my last ‘President’s Piece’ as my term of office comes to an end at the 2016 AGM and I hand over to the President Elect, Helen Webb from South Eastern District. When I first took over from Jan Wyatt I was more than a little daunted with so many more experienced ringers having already held this post, but I must say how much I have enjoyed my time in office.

Our membership has gradually increased over the years and in the report presented in 2015 we had 396 members including 26 overseas members in three countries. This has been a great achievement. However, we cannot rest on our laurels with the number of ringers throughout the country in decline. I think we should continue to do what we do best by encouraging people to learn to ring in a friendly way and give them the benefit of our experience.

It was good to know we are now in profit on the sale of Centenary Merchandise. There are still items for sale so please check with your District Secretary as to what is available and how to obtain the item.

Before writing this I took the opportunity of reading what previous Presidents had written in their ‘last piece’ and when I looked at my jottings I was surprised at the similarities. All of us were surprised at how quickly our three years passed, visiting districts throughout the country, meeting so many different people and their friendliness. One of the most important things I remember about the Ladies Guild when my mother-in-law took me to my first meeting was the friendliness of its members and their willingness to help less experienced members. Long may the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers continue to expand and flourish.

GUILD SECRETARY’S REPORT by Rosemary Hemmings

I offered to take on the post of Secretary last July when an appeal was emailed to districts and was accepted. I had been unable to go to the AGM in June.

I had a smooth handover of everything to do with the post from Carolyn Dawson in September. I have been a member of the Ladies Guild since about 1990 and have been South Midlands Secretary since 2007. I am learning as I go along and am very grateful for all the help from Officers and Members that has been given.

I will see you at the AGM in June.

Officers' Reports for 2014

PRESIDENT'S PIECE by Elizabeth Davey

What a way to start 2014, Betty Baines from Eastern District was awarded the MBE in the New Year's Honour List. Nominated by two members of the Ladies Guild Betty received the award for services to bell ringing. Well done Betty keep up the good work and long may your enthusiasm for our art continue.

2014 was also a year of change. The organisation of this year's holiday was taken over by Pearl Jeanes and her team and was held in Devon. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this year as we were on holiday with the in-laws! Everyone I have spoken to enjoyed themselves and our thanks go Pearl and Co for taking on the holiday.

In September the Ringing Roadshow was held at Newbury Race Course where the Ladies Guild had a stand. The day itself was hectic to say the least I don't think those manning the stand had any time to sit down!

We had lots of visitors to the stand, enquiries about the Guild, handed out 50 application forms for membership, signed up some members on the day, sold merchandise and one of the questions featured in the Roadshow Competition was about The Ladies Guild. All in all it was a very successful day for the Guild.

As I visit different districts I am struck by the enthusiasm and friendliness of our members. Everyone helps each other and visitors are all made welcome. It's these qualities of our members which make the Ladies Guild special and I think the best Guild to belong to.

GUILD SECRETARY'S REPORT by Carolyn Dawson 

At the Guild AGM in June 2014, I took over as Guild Secretary from Rosie Mason - an extremely hard act to follow. The Guild business has motored along very successfully this year with no major hiccups to report. Most of the business has been carried out by telephone between the President and me and, of course, what would we do without email? 

I have not been able to travel much this year but a highlight for me was to ring in a quarter peal at Burrington Church, Somerset, celebrating the presentation of the Dorothy L Sayers Society Young Lady Ringer of the Year award to Kaitlin Jarvis of Western District. It was good to meet up with the Society's Chairman and some of its members again and a really nice afternoon was enjoyed by all. 

I wish every success to whoever takes over this post and I look forward to the Guild going from strength to strength in the future.