The Essex Association of Change Ringers   President: The Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford

66th Essex Association Dinner — A face to face affair

It was very exciting to hear that the 66th Annual Dinner would actually go ahead face to face this year. The event took place at Benton Halll Golf and Country Club with over 70 guests, a good number considering.

[Photograph before the Dinner]

Our guest was Linda Garton, President of the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers, former organiser of the Ringing World National Youth Contest and many other roles besides. Our clergy guest was due to be the Vice Dean of Chelmsford Cathedral but he had to withdraw at the very last minute as his daughter had just gone into labour so needed to do grandparenting things. The gap on the top table was ably filled by Brian Meads, former Association Master, but recently ordained lay minister, and recipient of an association Life Membership award.

The Master, Andrew Kelso, opened the evening welcoming guests with “We made it” in reference to the first face to face Association event we’ve been able to hold since lockdowns began.

[Photograph of the Master delivering his speech]

After a superb dinner the Master proposed a toast to the Church by regaling stories of a fictional ringer who fell in the sea and found himself stranded on a deserted island, not unlike Lundy with nothing but a Ringing World diary to read. After some time, a siren arrived on the island and tempted him with good things to eat and drink from beneath her skimpy outfit before declaring he could have whatever he desired. His reply was astonishment at the prospect of her having a full set of handbells tucked away under that outfit. He reflected on the past year and how the Association had pulled together, helped by guidance from the Central Council and a review of the last two years (obviously no dinner last year). The Essex Course still took place albeit via Zoom and Ringing Room, meetings, handbell ringing in gardens when allowed, and recovery supported by ART and the Central Council. Significant changes in the way we do our business involving grass roots ringers had led to anything but a “non-year”. He finished by saying that ringing in Essex had never looked brighter because of and with the Church.

In reply, Brian Meads, was in a bit of a quandary. As a former Association Master, he could understand Andrew’s concern over what could have been a very difficult year. As a ringer, Brian understood that bells and ringing was important to any church that has them. As a minister could he go on without them? Maybe yes. Disappointing though that might be to say but he could see many things in today’s Church that could be side-lined as unessential. As with many aspects of the Church bells play an important part in keeping alive the rumour of the existence of God.

[Photograph of Linda Garton]

Linda Garton is a good friend to the Essex Association and has many Essex ringers she is pleased to call close friends. She admitted that her knowledge of Essex stemmed from binge watching episodes of Gavin & Stacey during lockdown however, she did know that Essex ladies were at the forefront of many great ringing achievements throughout the years. Linda recalled one year offering to help at the Essex Course thinking she was going to be ringing Plain Bob Doubles for three days, only to learn on the way to the first church that she was actually helping in the Double Norwich group and had to hastily learning it in the car on the way. She noted that there were lots of people doing a really good job for the Association and several work more widely within the Central Council, the current CCCBR Secretary and Public Relations Officer among them. She said it was brilliant to see how much goes on and offered a toast to the continual health and success of the Association.

After proposing a final toast to our Guest, the Master presented certificates to Paul Cammiade, Life Vice President, and Brian Meads, Life Member, who had been elected at our AGM in May, and a 50 year Life Membership certificate to Robert Wood. The raffle and speeches sweepstake concluded formal events as the evening continued with much merriment.

A huge thank you, particularly to our Secretary Sharon Lacey for all the organisation of this event. We look forward to next years.

Vicki Chapman
Communications Officer

(Friday 15 October 2021)

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