Interim Treasurer’s Report 2013 by Maureen Bosley

The Branch membership has reached 145 (including 5 Hon members) this year and the 100 Club now has 83 subscriptions.

The Branch has donated £257.50 each to the Diocesan Bell Fund and the ODGCB Restoration funds. This comprised £207.50 to each from the 100 Club and an additional donation of £50 to each from surplus funds, as voted at the AGM.

The Branch has £ 1,144.33 on Deposit and was able to fund the hosting of our website at short notice when the diocese withdrew from provision of this service.

I should like to express my personal thanks to Frank Norman for acting as Hon Auditor again this year – and to Margaret Coombe for her sterling work in relation to the 100 Club.

Branch Practices for the remainder of 2013

7th December Little Milton 4pm - 5.30pm

Guild Programme for 2013

23rd November 10 Bell Striking Competition Newbury Branch 23rd November

Autumn General Committee Meeting Newbury Branch

From the Ringing Master by Hilarie Rogers

Just to report that we have run 3 training sessions at Shabbington for their ringers (3 of them at a time) on Sunday afternoons in August, and we hope to be able to repeat it after Christmas. It was lovely to see them all make progress during the course of the afternoon – and many thanks to those who came to help, some on all 3 Sundays.

We have also arranged another quarter peals to follow up the regular practice sessions (Grandsire Doubles) and I am happy to arrange more – please ask if you are interested! As last year, much of our training was undertaken as part of the regular practices which include

Monthly afternoon Doubles practice alternating between Grandsire and Plain Bob

Monthly 8-bell practice – Plain Bob, Little Bob, Kent, Cambridge, Stedman Triples

Surprise Minor every other month

Surprise Major (with help from other branches) every other month (alternating with above)

The higher numbers practice at High Wycombe at the end of August was very worthwhile for those of us who don’t get much opportunity to ring Stedman Caters and Cinques, Grandsire Cinques, Little Bob and Cambridge Max!

The Tower Twinning is continuing this winter with one additional tower – do consider joining in! 3 times a year you will be asked to invite another tower to your practice night and respond to an invitation from them.

Do ask if there is anything we can help you with, or if you would like a concentrated session on something particular.

Secretary’s Report

Striking branch competition was held at Chalgove on April 27th. Four teams participated in the branch striking competition: Benson, Chalgrove, Little Milton and Drayton St Leonard. Drayton St Leonard won the event and will be representing the branch in the Guild competition in October. Many thanks to the Chalgrove ringers for the (as always!) excellent cakes and drinks!

We have had one first quarter peal this summer. Kirsty Rix of Marsh Baldon rang her first quarter peal on Sunday 14th July at Great Haseley. Kirsty rang treble for Plain Bob Doubles. Well Done!

This year’s Radley Course saw five South Oxon ringers as students. The course was held on April 13 where Linda Blansjaar, Catherine Mason, Kirsty Rix, Isabel Ford and Amy Herlihy participated in sessions ranging from the Plain Hunt to the Grandsire Triples. I believe I can speak for the group in saying we all found the day held challenges, stretching our skills – but that we all came away from it with new skills and insights on the methods we were learning!

If it is not mentioned elsewhere in the newsletter, the branch should know that Ray Fergusson is interested in stepping down as newsletter editor. If you are interested in organizing the newsletter, please let your tower captain know! The newsletter just has two issues per year. In general, if you have an interest in becoming more involved in the branch activities – please speak up!

25 years ago

The Autumn Meeting was held at Shabbington on Saturday 29th October 1988. At this short meeting the branch decided change the timing of the striking competition so that it wasn’t held at the same time as the AGM. The meeting was informed that work was beginning on the renovation of Thames’s bells and Tracey Parkinson was elected as a new member.

Election of New Members – Reminder

If you want to nominate a new member, please give Amy Herlihy the names of the ringers 2 weeks prior to the AGM.

Distinguished Membership Should you wish to nominate a branch member for Distinguished Membership please contact the branch secretary. This award is given to a member of at least 30 years who is considered to have given meritorious service to the Guild or Branch. Details can be found here:


Saturday 5th October dawned bright and promising - just the day to tidy up that last corner of garden, or get those curtains washed before winter. The bicycle beckoned, as did the cosy chair on the patio. But no ---- we had another date in the diary. Drayton St Leonard were off to ring in the Guild 6-bell final... what could be better!

For the first time in a number of years, there were heats - 13 of the 15 branches sent a team. We were drawn to ring at Little Missenden in a heat of 7 - and drawn first on at 2pm. To keep the Tower Captain (me) calm,

we all set off at 12.30pm to allow for any mishaps or delays, and took a packed lunch to eat on arrival. Christopher had been working nights the night before, so had a little under 4 hours sleep!

We had heard that the bells weren't easy, being rung from underneath the organ so that some peoples' knuckles hit the platform and others had obstacles to steer their ropes round. Being first on, we had no chance to hear how the others rang, to identify any odd struckness or get a feel for speed. So - we were off first and feeling surprisingly calm. It was clear that some of the bells were more challenging than others, but we continued to work on our striking as we progressed through the 240 and came out the other end.

We listened to the other teams, some ringing fast and some slow, but all improving as they went through their test piece. When the results were delivered, we were very surprised and probably a little shocked to hear that, not only had we made the top 3 and therefore were through to the final along with St Aldate's and Aston Clinton, but we had also won the heat!!

So - on to Monks Risborough for a welcome cup of tea, lots and lots of cake, and more ringing. Despite my best efforts, I drew us to ring last, 6th, so we had to wait for all the others to ring. It was apparent that these bells weren't going to be easy either, with some obvious oddstruckness. However when we entered the ringing room, it was clear that there was more to worry about. The ringing room was airless - no windows - and very hot and stuffy by that time. The sallies blocked the ceiling holes so that the sound came and went in a nauseating fashion. Christopher was having trouble staying awake.

But we got through the 240, and didn't look too shell-shocked in the photo - and were very pleased indeed to be placed 4th with 27 faults behind St Aldate's (26); Thatcham (18) and High Wycombe (14). Whilst waiting to ring, I devised a cunning handicap system whereby each team's fault was multiplied by their population - at 300 residents, Drayton St Leonard was by far the smallest!!



Aston Rowant by Robert Newton

We have continued to keep the bells ringing for most Sunday services and on practice nights: sometimes, unfortunately, with fewer than six of us. Shirley is still not well enough to return and Paul’s shoulder has only recently progressed sufficiently for him to ring again. Wendy is so pleased with her new hip that she is about to have the other one replaced as well. She is so looking forward to returning to an even keel!

As ever, we are most grateful to our visitors. One of our regulars, David Twissell, who has been a mainstay on Tuesdays for several years, has recently moved from High Wycombe to Suffolk. He will be sadly missed. Even more significant for the parish was the departure of our Rector and his wife Caroline, after seven years in the benefice. Caroline was able to take part in her own farewell quarter peal, of Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles, which was her first ‘inside’. This was also John Burdett’s first attempt. On 23rd July we rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Doubles to celebrate the birth of Prince George the previous day. This was Adam’s first attempt. Congratulations to all those who achieved firsts.

The few of us who were able to make them enjoyed and benefited from our ‘twinning’ practices at Chalgrove and Benson. These were very friendly evenings and such good experience. We’re looking forward to the next round already!

Benson by John Tchighianoff

About eight or nine years ago I wrote a letter to all members of our church asking if any would be interested in taking up bell ringing as we were quite short on numbers.

This prompted Jill Spence to contact me as she had been interested in learning to ring for some time. She soon became a very loyal and reliable member of our band, ringing regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays. Sadly Jill was diagnosed with a serious illness towards the end of last year. She had a major operation from which she made a gradual recovery although it left her very weak. However the illness returned and she died peacefully on the evening of Friday 20th September. We will all miss her enormously.

Many will remember Jim Godman who was Tower Captain at Benson from about 1970 until his death in 1987. His widow Marjorie died in July this year at the grand age of 95. After the funeral we rang the bells half muffled using our new ‘Big Wilf’ muffles. These are very impressive and much quicker to fit and remove than our previous ones.

On a happier note we rang a Quarter Peal on the back six on 9th August to celebrate the birth of Ed and Susie’s daughter Emma and Dave’s granddaughter Lucy. This was also notable as it was the first quarter for over 25 years where all the ringers were members of Benson tower.

Finally we have been pleased to welcome Sally as a new and valued member of our tower.

Berrick Salome by Wendy Simon

Our three learners are coming along well, when time permits. We have been holding an additional practice on the second Tuesday of the month during the summer months. Our thanks, as ever, go to all the Chalgrove ringers who have been helping out, especially to Geoffrey and Mary Riglar who have been running the weekly Monday afternoon session for the learners.

We have only had one wedding this year, although three are on the list already for 2014.

Whites of Appleton have been booked to carry out a routine inspection and maintenance on the bells in the near future.

Chalgrove by Andrew Davis

Ringing continues to progress steadily at Chalgrove. Practice nights are very busy. The less experienced are now ringing Bob Doubles. For the more advanced, Minor is regularly rung. A favourite is Little Bob and Kent spliced together, with Geoff keeping us in order.

The new ringers within our branch from Marsh Baldon have come to us for their practice on a couple of Saturday mornings. Our facilities make it ideal to train a group as we have the room to all be within the ringing chamber, not to mention being able to pop downstairs for refreshments.

To assist with teaching the new ringers at Berrick Salome we now hold a practice there on the second Tuesday of the month. This allows us to devote the evening to them, allowing more time ringing together than is possible at Chalgrove.

A memorable event for me personally occurred in June, after 35 years as a bell ringer I finally rang with my God Father, having stopped with us on his way from Essex to my parents in Gloucestershire. Tom joined us at our practice night where he, Lucy (my daughter) and I rang several methods together. It being a small world both he and Wendy have rung with the same group of people at different times in their lives!

We continue twinning with other towers and have developed close ties with Little Milton.

Chinnor by Malcolm Barker

Progress continues in the Chinnor tower, and ringing remains enjoyable for the wide age and experience range of our small band. Whilst call changes and plain hunt remain our mainstay, focus on quality of striking has now allowed us to advance into the foothills of method ringing. Plain courses of Plain Bob are now a regular possibility, and touches on the horizon.

Nonetheless we're not without challenges. Chief amongst these is a marginal number of ringers. This was not helped by the recent departure of Caroline Kinchin-Smith, who is greatly missed.

Thankfully, with the exception of August holiday period this year, we've managed to ring most Sundays, with numbers for Friday practice often bolstered to 8 or 9 by visitors (and more would be welcome!).

Most of our recent improvements (and it must be admitted the very sustainability of ringing just now! ) are due to the 4 members of the Burdett family. All have made great steps in their time at Chinnor with the fast-growing capabilities of Hattie and Amelia adding progressively to our repertoire.

This year we will join the Tower-twinning initiative, and look forward to this providing opportunity for new experiences and support.

Our medium term ambition remains to re-enter striking competitions, and I'm optimistic we have a band capable of a good performance. Maybe next year.

Dorchester by David Parker

We continue to enjoy our ringing at Dorchester, although we rarely have enough present to ring up all eight bells. We make up for that by ringing lots of plain courses of Bob and Grandsire Doubles, and when we do, the striking is usually rather good.

Many of our ringers are outstandingly loyal and dependable, and often the older they are the better they get! I shan’t embarrass them by mentioning all their names, but in the last six months one of our senior ringers attended 42 times, another 39 times, and another 33 times. Our youngest ringer, Isabel, also attended 33 times, and it would have been much more if she had not had a long summer holiday in the States. Nick Jenkins, who took up ringing 18 months ago, is also very dependable and attended 28 times in the last six months, managing to work round work and family commitments, and his mysterious training to be a pikeman for the Honourable Artillery Company – I hope I have that right!

John has been a tremendous help teaching new recruits, but was out of action for four weeks when he had cataract operations. His ringing is now much improved; I had been wondering why he was uncharacteristically missing cues. For three months we have missed Klaas, who has not been well. We hope he will soon be better and able to ring again. I could have done with him a few weeks ago when I had to repair a broken stay.

Joshua Paul, having done brilliantly in his Baccalaureate, has gone away to university in France. He will not find any ringing there, so I hope we shall be able to welcome him back during his vacations. It would be good if he could encourage his younger brother and sister to come too – they ring rather well.

It has been good to welcome Mandy as an adult learner. She is a relatively new resident of the village and has always wanted to ring bells. She has had six lessons so far, and is gaining confidence. Like all of us in our time, she has discovered nearly all the handling problems that arise, but they are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. It has also been good to welcome Hannah, who lives in Burcot and who started to learn to ring during her first year at Plymouth University. She is keen to attend practices during her vacations, and we are keen to have her.

Unlike some, I have no peals to report from our ringers, nor even any quarters, but it is good that one of our ringers, Isabel, attended the 2013 Radley Course. She was in the Grandsire Triples group, which was quite a challenge for her, and I am sorry we have not been able to give her further experience in the method.

Finally, I must thank Hilarie for raising a team to ring the Abbey bells in celebration of the birth of Prince George at a time when nearly all our ringers were away.

Drayton St Leonard by Hilarie Rogers

Over the summer we have reverted to ringing just 5 of our 6 bells, to make them easier to handle. Our minimus repertoire is being tested! We have now started very preliminary enquiries about what we might do in order to improve things.

As I write we are preparing to go to the Guild 6-bell competition at the beginning of October.

Great Haseley by Hilarie Rogers

Our Monday evenings now attract a variety of people, but because people also have other commitments our attendance has fluctuated from as low as 5 up to 15. Carys from Marsh Baldon is making excellent progress; and we have recently been joined by Rachel and James from Cuddesdon.

Kirsty from Marsh Baldon rang her first quarter (treble to Plain Bob Doubles) in July, on a very hot Sunday afternoon. We also rang a quarter of Grandsire Doubles to welcome Prince George, which I conducted from the same bell that I conducted from to welcome Prince William in 1982.

Work has continued, albeit slowly, in the belfry. The framework on the final window is “in progress”.

Great Milton by Pat Cox

It has been a quiet time for the GMB - only a few visiting bands and weddings this year.

Now it's Autumn and our 2 young ringers are away to university, it leaves the senior brigade to ring for the recent Harvest Festival, and to take part in the weekend of the Harvest Symphony. This was a combination of music, a flower festival, cream teas, a huge auction, and of course, the Harvest Festival service and lunch on the Sunday.

An event that pleased us all was receiving a Silver Award for the care and maintenance of the Bells and the Tower. Those ringers who care for the bells throughout the year should be really proud of the results of all their work.

We now look forward to the winter ringing, and of course - to Christmas! 

Little Milton by Jane Willis

Practices at Little Milton continue to be well attended – and small improvements have been made due to the steadfast efforts of the of the Hughes D’Aeth family, Chris Rodgers, Geoff and Mary. We have now added plain courses of Plain Bob to our weekly repertoire of Plain Hunt and Grandsire Doubles.

We have welcomed a couple of new ringers to the tower – Maya Wakeling has reduced the average age considerably, and her bell handling is coming along well. Dave Page fits in well with the “older” set – and is swiftly picking up all those intricacies which form the noble art of bell ringing. Equally importantly, he is a great asset to the post practice drinking club, boosting the turnover of our local pub.

Getting married is enjoying a revival in Little Milton – and we have rung for three weddings this year – more than for several years! Ringing opened this year’s Church Fete – welcoming visitors to the beautiful gardens of the Old Vicarage, and our ringers have regularly helped out at Great Haseley and Great Milton churches for Sunday ringing throughout the year.

Having conquered our fear of the Drayton St Leonard tower, we are all looking forward to the next tower twinning sessions. We always enjoy going on visits and making a noise in someone else’s village! And one of our highlights was not coming last in the striking competition, held at Chalgrove. Although we have to admit that the team did comprise three quality ringers from Chalgrove!!

Thanks to everyone for their continued support and commitment – we look forward to additional ringing over the forthcoming festive season.

Shabbington by Caroline Lewis

On the 16th June 2013 a quarter peal was rung to mark the installation of a slate memorial tablet in the ringing room which was attended by Richard Mayou and his family and friends in memory of Ann. The Sunday afternoon training sessions in August have been very helpful to everyone who was able to attend, many thanks to Chris and Hilarie Rogers. Congratulations and well done Jenny who has now rang a couple of quarter’s. We have had a break through the summer, but have now restarted with renewed vigour, and very much look forward to the winter twinning program.

Thame by Rosalie Gibson

It seems like no time at all since the last newsletter.( October 2012) Looking back in our diary (at my age I need to do that to be able to remember what we might have done!) I see that strangely weddings seem to have ceased in October in 2012. However for 2013 we start with the first one on February 9th and they continue right through the year. At the moment there are 35 and more are still coming in so most weekends look to be spent in the Tower although several are also on ordinary weekdays.

In October (2012) we were privileged to ring for the National Farmers Union Harvest Service which was held in Thame. A truly traditional Harvest service with good ‘farmers type’ refreshments afterwards. As normal we rang the bells half muffed for the Sunday Remembrance Service which this year fell on the actual day (Nov.11th) so no extra ringing for it this year. Also as anticipated we were very busy ringing for many, many Christmas services held here in Thame and took a welcome break from Practice night on 31st December. Due to the heavy snow we also cancelled another practice night on 21st January as it seemed silly to risk possibly broken bones from falls on the ice.

On January 15th, our Vicar was inducted as Rural Dean by Bishop Colin so we rang for the service and on the 26th we hosted the Branch Practice which sadly was not well attended. The following Saturday Thame again hosted the annual Oxford Diocesan Guild Training day and it was lovely to hear some very good ringing in the afternoon.

In January, quite out of the blue, we had four new people all wishing to learn to ring. Stephen is now VERY busy managing this so we are hopeful of increasing our numbers. We have lost Michael, for the time being at least, due to student commitments but Frank, who having moved from Thame and had not rung for some time, was invited to the Christmas party and has attended, in spite of the extra travelling, for most service rings and some practice nights since, saying how much he had missed it. We are really pleased to have him back and his wife is also now one of our trainee ringers.

In November we were also very pleased to welcome Robert back with us after he had been very ill for some long time and we are grateful for his recovery. We had very much missed his presence. And finally, congratulations to Anita, who has just recently rung her first quarter peal.

September 2013

As already mentioned we have, it seems been constantly ringing for the many weddings which now seem to happen on almost any day of the week, we have had Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, not forgetting all the Saturdays. Again strangely, the same as last year, weddings all but cease at the end of September with nothing in October but a couple later on in November and December. Some of the brides have been very late this year (half an hour on a couple of occasions). Are other Towers finding this is happening to them?

Two of our four new ringers have fallen by the wayside, at least for the time being, but this week we welcomed two ringers who have just retired to Thame so our numbers are still holding up well, and we are promised there are another two who are transferring to us although as yet we have not seen them.

We rang the bells half muffed for the funeral Revd Canon Keith Weston, a local retired clergyman in February and also to mark the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher in March. As usual we rang for St George’s day and by pure coincidence we were ringing on Practice night on 22nd July when many people thought it was for the birth of Prince George so we didn’t let on. In fact we didn’t even know the birth had taken place until we left the Tower! We have also had some visiting bands and Robin Gibb’s two cousins from Liverpool join us when they come to visit Robin’s wife.

Having been Tower Captain for the past seven year since Terry died I decided that it was time to start winding down and Stephen has now become Deputy Tower Captain in order to take on as many of the duties as family and working commitments permit. In the meantime he is running the practice nights and sharing some of the other tasks.

Warborough by Sue Dyke

I am pleased to report that we have managed to keep the bells ringing for most Services despite only having 5 regular ringers.

During the last school summer term we have been giving a number of the local primary school children half hourly taster sessions to learn the art of bellringing during their lunch break. We have instructed two groups of 4 children during this period which has proved to be very successful. The children seem to have enjoyed the sessions and in the short time available they have almost all managed to handle the bell successfully. Each child was presented with a Certificate of Achievement at the end of their course. We have just been asked by the School to carry on with the lessons during the autumn term when we shall have 2 returning children and one new one to teach. We are therefore hopeful that we may have a few new ringers to help out on Sundays.

We have had the pleasure to ring for 9 weddings this year – which must be a record! 3 of these weddings are due to Stadhampton Church being out of action due to their re-ordering. We should like to thank Alf, Philip, John, Maureen & Benji for helping us out on these occasions.

We were pleased to welcome the Bradfield Course ringers once again in August when they had a session on Stedman Doubles.