Wednesday 22nd May 2024

Meet the Chairman

Thank you to everyone who attended the Guild AGM at Bury St Edmunds and chose me to be the next Chairman of the Suffolk Guild and I apologise that you will already have heard some of the points below in my ‘acceptance speech’!

When I ‘blew in’ to Suffolk I received a very warm welcome from members of the Suffolk Guild so it really is a great honour to be chosen as the next Chairman. Comment was made at the meeting that I was the first female chairman for the Guild however I don’t feel that is especially important as Amanda Richmond was the first female Guild Ringing Master way back in 1990!

I am still relatively new to the Guild with only 8 years of membership under my belt but I think I’ve gained an insight into how it works and have several friends and acquaintances who will let me know if I’m not on the right track!

If you want to know a bit more about me, then read on, if not, then skip a couple of paragraphs. I can’t claim to have been born in Suffolk (I was born in Kent) or even having learnt to ring in the county (I learnt at Ladbroke in Warwickshire, a 13cwt ring of 5 on plain bearings which probably explains why I prefer to ring around the back); I do however feel a strong affiliation to the county through being at Birmingham University with Simon Girt. A group of us were regularly welcomed into John & Shirley’s home at weekends and joined the famous Guild outings from 1983 to 1988 to sample the bells (and beers) in London. I also recall a session helping to clean up at St Lawrence’s tower so the Guild was making good use of young ringers even then!

I have rung in several locations over the years including Warwickshire, Birmingham, Southampton (briefly), Exeter and most recently Loughborough before moving to Bury in 2010 where my home tower is the Norman Tower. My main experience is on 8 to 12 bells but I do try to ‘keep my hand in’ with regular 6 bell quarters as part of the NW District programme of monthly practices. I am currently the NW District Ringing Master and I do intend to continue in this role, for the time being at least, as it will hopefully enable me to pilot a few ideas in my own District before releasing them to the wider world of the Guild.

As for my plans for the next five years, some of you know that I work for a charity called Sustrans which encourages people to travel sustainably by cycling or walking. Don’t worry, I’m not going to expect you to start cycling to meetings or practices (as I often do) but I would like to make what we do as a Guild more sustainable by making better use of our resources, YOU the members. If we are going to maintain (and hopefully grow) the current level of activity we need all of our current members to take part in the events we run. There’s nothing more demoralising than organising a ringing event which is only attended by a handful of members and this surely then makes the organiser think ‘why did I bother?’ If you have taken the time to read this (or attended the AGM) you are probably already active members of the Guild who are interested in its future but I want to encourage and motivate the less active members to get more involved.

We can start by celebrating what we’ve already achieved as a Guild this year (all in February):-

This indicates that we are achieving new things at three different levels at least but what about the Sunday service ringer who turns up rain or shine, the tea and sandwich makers, the teachers who spend countless hours (and travel far and wide) to train and inspire the new ringers etc, etc?  It’s hard to know where to start but we do have an opportunity to get more people involved through the Ringing for Peace initiative in November so do please respond to the correspondence you will be receiving over the next few months.

And finally, I would like to invite you all to tell me what you want from YOUR Guild. I have posted a document on the website showing which Tower, District and Guild events I’m planning to attend in the coming year so do please take the opportunity to come and ring with me and share your thoughts and ideas!

Rowan Wilson
01284 700490