The First Competition (from the Ringing World, 09 November 1979)
It had long been one of Frank Lufkin's ambitions to see the Essex Association competing with bands from other ringing societies and it was eventually decided that such an event should form part of the Essex Association's Centenary celebrations in 1979. A working party, under the direction of Stephen Halliwell, chose the venue (St. Mary's, Prittlewell) and the date (September 29) in the hope that the event would not clash with other ringing events. Despite this, in order to get acceptance from six bands, they had to ask more than twice this number.
The draw took place as 12.45 pm and, when the judges were safely installed, the bands were given a scheduled starting time, allowing half an hour each team, the test piece being a course of Yorkshire Royal of which only the last seven leads were marked.
A service was held at 5.00 p.m., the Bishop of Bradwell (Rt. Rev. Derek Bond) gave an appropriate address and the singing was led by Prittlewell choir. The Essex Association Master (Don Cobb) welcomed everyone and introduced two College Youths members who had acted as judges: Richard Tibbetts and Jonathan Porter. The MC (Steve Halliwell) had recorded the time of the full course for each band and this was announced with the marks:
|1st||Sussex County Association||5th||14'||45|
|2nd||Ancient Society of College Youths||6th||14'11"||50|
|5th||Derby Diocesan Association||2nd||13'||68|
|6th||Kent County Association||1st||13'34"||80|
The trophy is of a model bell and fittings in a frame made by Bob Leavett (of Tollesbury in Essex) for Frank Lufkin. The Master introduced Frank who presented the trophy to the Master of the Sussex County Association, Peter Hurcombe, and gave a ringers' tie or apron to each member of the winning team as follows:
|Tr||Peter T. Hurcombe||6||Hugh F. Pettifer|
|2||Ann Smith||7||Ronald F. Stillwell|
|3||Valerie J. Howard||8||Christopher W. Kipling|
|4||Margaret F. Oram||9||John A. Howard|
|5||Ian H. Oram||Tn||Ian V. J. Smith|
Four associations (Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex) agreed to host the competition in rotation and this tradition has been followed over the past 38 years, supported by regular invitations from the Guildford Diocesan Guild and the Hertford County Association.
Methods rung have ranged from Stedman Caters to Pudsey Surprise Royal, with the most popular method being Stedman Caters.
The competition has been held in 32 different towers during its 38 year history (Horsham, Bletchingley, Guildford (St Nicolas), Southover and Leeds have been used more than once). Over 60 different judges have deliberated over the ringing and it is believed that only six have taken part more than once. The competition has been held every year since its inception, with the exception of 2001 when it was cancelled as it was due to be held the weekend following the September 11th attacks in the USA. The 25th competition was held at Hornchurch on 11 September 2004, in the Essex Association's 125th Anniversary Year.
The Essex Association refurbished the trophy in 1997, the year that Frank Lufkin died, and provided brass plates listing all the winners, leaving space for winners up to 2029!
Frank Lufkin was a ringer for over 70 years, a Life Vice President and Past Master of the Essex Association and a representative on the Central Council for 50 years, being made a Life Member of the Council in 1995. He was a prolific peal ringer, ringing over 1000 peals, the first predominately Essex ringer to do so. He conducted over 700 peals, including a number of long lengths in the 1950s and early 60s, as well as attempts for the extent of Plain Bob Major.