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The Guild of Clerical Ringers – President’s Report 2023/2024

This has been my first year stint as President of the Guild taking over from the Reverend Canon Tony Ellis, who proved to be for a considerable number of years an excellent president fully committed to Guild relevance and success.  Tony with the support of the Guild Committee kept the Guild to the forefront in terms of publicity, enabled the Guild to achieve non-geographical association membership of the CCCBR, and at an early stage of his presidency, recognised the importance of producing a public statement about the role of the Guild in connection with fostering mutual understanding and good relations between the ringing fraternity generally and church leadership.  This resulted in the Ringing World (RW) publication in the Spring of 2023 of the Voice of the Church which has sold steadily through 2023 and into 2024.  Significant thanks must be given to the Reverend Max Drinkwater who oversaw the contributions towards this publication made by Guild members and edited the whole.  We can also thank the Reverend Canon David Grimwood not only for his long service to the Guild but in more recent times his managing the rota of contributions to the RW Thought for the Week columns.  This task has been taken over by the Reverend Bill Croft for which we express thanks.

My presidency over the past 12 months has been concerned primarily with three aspects of Guild business:

  1. Surveying our membership during June 2023 of approximately 100 members and promoting ringing clergy, when identified, to become Guild members.  The survey established somewhat worryingly that around 72% of our membership are at 60 years plus with a further 24% at 50 years plus.  The age statistic would suggest that a high proportion of our membership are retired clergy, some undertaking occasional duties…. but with a fair proportion also no longer ringing actively.  During the year we have managed to recruit some new members who with encouragement could become more active members. However, the age profile is not presently changing significantly and the attracting of younger clergy who ring… a necessity for the Guild’s future.  The Guild Directory which will be recirculated after this AGM is now well up to date with our membership details.
  2. To make the Guild relevant and an opportunity for fellowship and mutual enjoyment, a push has been made on the concept of regional gatherings for general ringing, practice and quarter peals.  A challenge in this regard is the unequal geographical spread of membership around the UK and members coming forward to offer some leadership and organisational willingness to bring clergy together regionally without excessive travelling. Some success has been achieved on two occasions during the past year in the SW with day gatherings to ring and enjoy a lunch together.  Several quarter peals have been attempted but with only one scored so far.  Still, it has been a start and will continue.
  3. A valiant attempt has been with much success to invigorate the Guild website and Facebook Pages along with introducing Guild newsletters on a frequent basis – 3 of the latter since December.  For a long period, the Reverend Ivan Howitt managed the Guild Facebook pages and ensured the RW Thought for the Week written by Guild members (with grateful thanks to them) appeared on the pages along with other relevant Guild news.  With Ivan’s untimely and recent death, this task has been taken over by Mrs Heather Davis who has also produced excellent work on updating the Guild website.  We are indebted to Heather for her willingness to engage with these tasks. She also has used the Mailchimp facility to publish and circulate the Guild newsletters.  So, in this regard the Guild has been fully drawn into the 21st Century!

Three further observations can be made.  The first is that the RW editorship is invariably keen to establish good and productive relationships with the Guild.  I do hope this will become more obvious as 2024 proceeds once we are beyond the mid-Devon April 2024 annual LWT.  We have over the past year had a few items published in the RW with relevance to church leadership style and variety and ringing, along with the promotion of Bell Sunday.  The RW is interested in the Guild pursing a connection with those organisations and trusts nationally that care for redundant churches where ringing may in future become in jeopardy.  The second is establishing some connection with Dioceses on ringing relevance issues and furthering links already established with senior officers in the CCCBR on church matters – where the Reverend Max Drinkwater has so far been the principal lead.  The third concerns the future of the annual Low Week Tour – an enjoyable and rewarding week of ringing and fellowship despite low membership attendance relatively.  Its future is dependent on organisers stepping up.  We do need to return to the Midlands and the North – rather than hugging the South!  As a Guild this will become a matter careful discernment as we move towards 2025 and beyond.

Finally, the Guild finances total less than £1000 currently.  Membership subscriptions have not been discussed, so far as I can see, for some years.  I am not suggesting we change to a Guild membership annual subscription especially perhaps given the age profile of members – however, it may be to keep the website going and other incidentals including occasional Zoom meeting requirements, some thought will need to be given to increasing our reserves.

Thank you for your commitment and service to the GCR…especially our hard-working secretaries/treasurers now and in recent years gone.

The Reverend Jonathan Rose, President, GCR

March 2024


Welcome & Opening Prayer
Apologies for absence
In Memoriam – Jim Vincent, John Baldwin & Michael Haighton
Minutes of the last AGM held on Wednesday 16th March 2022 (attached)
Matters arising
Election of new members
Report: 2022 Accounts (attached)
Adoption of Accounts
President’s Report (attached)
Election of Officers:
President (Anthony Ellis – 6 years in post)
Vice President (Jon Rose – 1 year in post)
Ringing Master (Jon Rose – 8 years in post)
Secretary / Treasurer (David Everett – 5 years in post)
Committee Member (David Grimwood – 1 year in post)
(MaxDrinkwater – 1 year in post)
Central Council Rep (Jonathon Rose – Guild Representative)
Future Tour Programme: Autumn 2022 & Low Week 2023
The Ringing World – Thought for the Week coordinator
Any other business
Closing prayer

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of The Guild of Clerical Ringers

Wednesday 19th April 2023

held at the Bell Hotel, Mildenhall and on Zoom


In the absence of the President, Anthony Ellis who was unable to attend as he had recently undergone surgery to his knee, Jon Rose was in the Chair. He welcomed everybody to the meeting and opened the proceedings with prayer.

In the absence of the President in person it was agreed to consider the Election of Officers first at this meeting.

The following were elected as Officers of the Guild. They were all elected nem. con.

  1. President – Jon Rose prop. David Grimwood, sec. Chris Marshall
  2. Vice President – Ivan Howitt prop. Patrick Wooster, sec. Russell Chamberlain
  3. Ringing Master – Dale Barton prop. Jon Rose, sec. Ivan Howitt
  4. Secretary & Treasurer – Tim Hawkings prop. David Everett, sec. Patrick Wooster
  5. Committee Members – Russell Chamberlain prop. David Grimwood, sec. Tim Hawkings

   Max Drinkwater prop. David Grimwood, sec. Chris Marshall

  1. Central Council Rep – Jon Rose prop. David Grimwood, sec. Dale Barton


The Chairman thanked Tony for all his work during his 6 years as President. He particularly highlighted his leadership through the pandemic and his encouragement of and participation in the project to write the booklet which will be published shortly. All present were in agreement and Jon was asked to formally write to Tony.

The Chairman also thanked David Everett for all he had one during his 5 years as Secretary & Treasurer.


The Meeting continued with our new President in the Chair.


Members Present: there were 9 members present plus 4 on Zoom and 1 Guest


  1. Apologies were received from: David Cawley, Nick deKeyser, Peter Newing, +Alan Smith


  1. In Memoriam – a silence was kept to remember Guild members John Baldwin, Michael Haighton & Jim Vincent who had died in the last year.


  1. 2022 AGM Minutes – The draft Minutes were presented to the meeting. The minutes of the 2022 AGM be accepted nem con. The President thanked David Grimwood for the Hastings Tour last year. There were no matters arising.





  1. New Members – there were 4 new members proposed and elected nem.con.


John Hereward prop. Jon Rose

Anne Pettifor prop. Dale Barton

Katharine Scott prop. John Rose

Jane Walker prop. Jon Rose


  1. Finance – the Finance Report for 2022 was circulated beforehand. Tim Hawking proposed and Patrick McEune seconded that the Accounts be approved. This was agreed nem. con.


  1. The President’s Report

The President’s Report had been circulated before the meeting.


The President led the following discussions:

Following the discussions at the last AGM the President reported that the proposed booklet has been produced and is in the process of being printed. This has been done in conjunction with the Ringing World and the launch will be in the Ringing World in its 28th April edition. It is intended to send copies to all dioceses in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Guild Committee has agreed to invest up to £1,000 of its funds towards this. More information will be distributed when it is available. The President thanked Max Drinkwater for all his work in editing the publication and to Tony Ellis and David Grimwood for their major contributions to it. He also expressed his thanks to Will Bosworth and the Ringing World team for their work in bringing this to a conclusion.


The President led a discussion on the future of the Guild. Having discussed the matter with Tony Ellis he proposed to send out, jointly with Tony, a questionnaire to all members asking about how they see the future of the Guild. The Guild Committee will then consider the responses. He also felt that we need to build up the Guild by organising local QP and peal attempts including opportunities to meet and eat together.

Russell Chamberlain also suggested creating an Associate Member category of membership which would be open to readers and licensed lay ministers. However, the Guild should continue to be the Guild of Clerical Ringers. This is to be discussed further at the next Committee Meeting.


Bell Sunday was also discussed. It was agreed that this needs to be locally led as a means of recruitment.


  1. Correspondence – there was no correspondence.


  1. Future Tour Programme – after some discussion the following was agreed.


The Low Week Tour 2024 to be in Devon or Cornwall. Jon Rose, Russell Chamberlain and Tim Hawkings are to work on this. It was agreed that there will not be another Autumn Tour in the foreseeable future as all the parts of the country where a “sweeping-up exercise” was needed had now been covered.



  1. The Ringing World – Thought for the Week


The President thanked David Grimwood for his organisation of these “Thoughts” and also to all of those who contribute the articles. DG made it clear that he wanted to stand down from the role and asked that somebody else takes over. There was no immediate volunteer although a couple of names of people who were not at the meeting were proposed. These people are to be approached.



  1. Any other business


David Grimwood asked that a paper copy of an updated version of the Guild Directory be sent to all members of the Guild. After some discussion Max Drinkwater said that he wasn’t sure whether this was a good idea as most people didn’t want more paper. He suggested creating an electronic version which all members could have access to. This was to be further discussed by the Committee.


The President also informed the meeting that he had asked Heather Davis if she would take over responsibility for the Guild website and she had agreed. This was something which Ivan had wanted to pass on. He will continue to look after the social media posts.



The meeting finished with the Grace.

The Guild of Clerical Ringers
Wednesday 19th April 2023 at 7.30pm
in person and on Zoom

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of The Guild of Clerical Ringers

Wednesday 16th March 2022

held on Zoom

The President, Anthony Ellis, was in the Chair. He welcomed everybody to the meeting and opened the proceedings with prayer.

Members Present: there were 19 members present

Apologies were received from: Carl Melville,Jennifer Mole, Peter Newing

  • In Memoriam – a silence was kept to remember long-time Guild member David Sansum who had died in November.
  • 2021 AGM Minutes – The draft Minutes were presented to the meeting. David Grimwood proposed and Russell Chamberlain seconded that the minutes of the 2021 AGM be accepted. This was approved nem con. There were no matters arising.
  • New Members – there were no new members elected at this meeting
  • Finance – the Finance Report for 2021 was circulated beforehand. David Grimwood proposed and Dale Barton seconded that the Accounts be approved. This was agreed nem. con.
  • The President’s Report

The President’s Report had been circulated before the meeting.

The President led the following discussions:

  • the Guilds role in current world of bellringing. The President gave an update on the ongoing work to produce a booklet to help ringers and clergy understand each other better and to value the work and mission that ringers bring to our churches, remembering that most bells are in church buildings and were installed so that people can be called to worship.
  • the idea of a Bell Sunday was discussed as this had been raised in discussions with the Central Council. Jon Rose felt that it could be tied in with another event like Mission Sunday. There was some concern as to how this would work for those who ring at more than one tower. After further discussion it was agreed that this should be left to local decision making.
  • Thanks were given for the life of David Sansum who, using our President’s words, “had been one of the giants of the our Guild and of bellringing more widely” and had passed away in November 2021.
  • David Grimwood, on behalf of the whole Guild, thanked our President for all his leadership and work in the last year.

The following change to the Guild’s Constitution was ratified nem. con. having been approved at the 2021 AGM.

The purpose of the Guild is to encourage fellowship between clergy who are ringers. It will promote and foster good relationships between ringers and the Church.

As ministers of the Gospel, its members will serve the needs of the wider ringing community.

  • Election of Officers – the following were elected as Officers of the Guild. They were proposed en bloc  by Dale Barton and seconded by Tim Hawkings and elected nem. con.
  • President – Anthony Ellis
  • Vice President – Jon Rose
  • Ringing Master – Jon Rose
  • Secretary & Treasurer – David Everett
  • Committee Members – Max Drinkwater & David Grimwood
  • Central Council Rep – Jon Rose

These proposals were all approved unanimously. Russell Chamberlain had asked to retire from the Committee and Max Drinkwater was asked to join it and we are very thankful for his initial work and ideas on producing the booklet. The Committee appointed Jon Rose as our initial Central Council Rep and this AGM confirmed him for the coming year.

  • Correspondence – there was no correspondence.
  • Future Tour Programme – after some discussion the following was agreed.

The Low Week Tour 2021 –The Low Week Tour in 2022 will be in Sussex and based in Hastings.

The Low Week Tour 2022 will be held in west Suffolk in the week beginning 17th April. A draft itinerary has been drawn up by David Everett.

Some initial thoughts are that the 2022 Autumn Tour (week beginning 26th September) will be to east Monmouthshire & the Forest of Dean.

The Ringing World – Thought for the Week

The President thanked David Grimwood for his organisation of these “Thoughts” and also to all of those who contribute the articles. DG asked that if there are any other members would like to contribute to the Ringing World articles would they please contact him.

Any other business

It was agreed that there would be discussions at the Low Week Tour regarding new membership and Guild peal ringing.

The 2023 AGM would be a hybrid meeting, that is it will take place on the Wednesday of the Low Week Tour (19th April 2023) but members will also be able to join in by Zoom.

The meeting finished with the Grace.

Presidential Report 2021

2020 was not what we expected. We cancelled both the planned tours and have already postponed the Low Week Tour in 2021 until the Autumn. I doubt whether there has been another year since 1945 when the Guild has not met to ring!
However in 2020 the Guild committee has met on a number of occasions by “zoom”. At one of these meetings, we co-opted David Grimwood because he has important links with the wider ringing community. It was the committee’s decision to call off the tours in 2020 and to postpone the 2021 tour until late September. We decided, too, that the time had come when we needed to have a representative on the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. We asked Jon Rose to represent us at the meeting that took place electronically in early September. Our application was duly accepted but we will need to ratify the committee decision to apply for membership at our AGM in February. The committee also thought 2020 was a “non-year” as far as the Guild was concerned. We thought it wise that the officers should all remain in post for an extra year, a decision that we will need the Guild to ratify at the AGM.

While we have been unable to ring, Guild officers have been playing their part behind the scenes. As I have reported Jon Rose attended the Central Council meeting. It would appear that apart from David Grimwood, who represents the Kent Association, Jon is the only other ordained member of the present Council. It would appear that the person we send to represent us will have to act as a chaplain to the Council! This role reflects, I think, the growing separation between the church and many ringers.

This separation is something that we have noted in recent times and during the last months there have been some developments to overcome this trend. David Grimwood and I met with Mark Regan who has been asked by the Central Council to form a working group to address the question of relations between the Church and ringers.

In the Hereford Diocesan Guild, we are having a discussion about the role of the Clerical representatives on our management committee. The initial thoughts are that we should be seen as chaplains to the ringers and try to bridge the gap between Church and ringers. As the Clerical Guild I wonder whether our members should increase our links with local Guilds and Associations. It is with this in mind that I am proposing that we amend the constitution of our Guild. At the moment the constitution is just one simple sentence “The purpose of the Guild is to encourage fellowship between clergy who are ringers and to promote change-ringing.” I think that we need to extend that to say that our purpose is also to promote good relations between ringers and the church and to serve the needs of the wider ringing community as ministers of the Gospel. My proposed wording for an amended purpose for the Guild is at the end of this report. I would welcome thoughts on the exact wording and this can be discussed at the AGM. As we cannot change the purpose of the Guild at this year’s AGM, we will give notice that we will do so at the 2022 AGM.

The Committee hopes that we will be joined at the “zoomed“ AGM by as many members as possible particularly as we consider its purpose going forward. We would value that greatly because we need input from those still in full time ministry who can give their thoughts on how best the Guild can be relevant and constructive in wider ringing circles.
I am delighted that Guild members continue to supply the Ringing World with their “Thoughts for the Week” which I learn are appreciated by many ringers. I thank David Grimwood who organises the rota and keeps a check on contributions.

Since our last AGM in 2019 we have sadly lost 3 members who have died. They are Bruce Grainger and Stanley Evans who died in 2019 and Richard Dorrington who passed away last year. May they rest in peace.

I look forward to seeing you via Zoom on Wednesday 3rd February and sincerely hope that we will be able to meet in Suffolk on September 27th for our delayed Low Week Tour!

Anthony Ellis