This has been my first year as secretary, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped to ease me into the job. I am especially grateful to Sue Williams and Ruth Ogden who, as previous secretaries, provided much information, useful templates and files from previous years, and patiently answered my questions when I forgot what they had already told me.
The first ringing meeting of the year started in a very cold Rampton church. We managed a plain course of Rampton Surprise Minor, which was the special method, welcomed visitors from Husbands Bosworth and continued with Plain Bob, Cambridge Surprise and Norwich Surprise Minor. Ringers fingers did eventually warm up, but toes remained cold throughout. Tea was arranged in the Longstanton Village Institute, provided by the local ringers with the assistance of the Stevens family. In Longstanton church, we found the heaters on, even in the belfry, and the bells rung up ready for us. We welcomed two more visitors from Derbyshire who helped us to ring Lincolnshire Surprise Major (the special method), Grandsire and Plain Bob Triples. Eight of the Longstanton ringers were elected as members of the Association at the Annual Meeting, and it was very pleasing to be able to present most of their certificates in person and to ring with them as members of the district.
The March meeting started at Chatteris. Single Oxford Bob Minor was the special method and was rung several times. We also rang Stedman and Reverse Canterbury Doubles, Plain Bob and Little Bob Minor, and Cambridge, London and Carlisle Surprise Minor. After a service of Compline, tea was laid out in the Lady Chapel because the refurbished Bricston Hall was double-booked. There was an impromptu election of two new members, one of whom was already hard at work helping to provide the tea. We were asked to keep Jem Finch (a Chatteris ringer) and his family in our thoughts and prayers. Jem was in hospital after a serious motoring accident, and is now exploring the possibilities of ringing from a wheelchair. Not many local ringers made the trip to Sutton, so we were pleased to welcome one visitor from Hertfordshire and a group of five from Wiltshire and Somerset who had been on an outing in the area. With their help we rang All Saints Doubles (the special method), also Stedman and Winchendon Place, and our ringing master turned in the tenor to a touch of Plain Bob Minor.
April saw us at Fordham and Chippenham, with special methods Rutland Surprise Major and Winchendon Place Doubles. We also rang Plain Bob, Grandsire and Stedman Triples (at Fordham) and a service touch of Kent Treble Bob Major. After the service and tea, we held a business meeting to ratify the two members elected at Chatteris and to elect another two members. At Chippenham, we were let in by a kind local who was walking his dog and rang mainly doubles methods and also Cambridge and Ipswich Surprise Minor.
The district striking competition took place at Swaffham Prior as the May meeting. There were two bands in the call changes section. The Isleham band were the winners and most of the ringers had been ringing for less than a year; Over and Longstanton provided a joint band which included three generations of the Cartwright family, also ringing for less than a year. There were four bands in the method section, including a scratch band, and three of them chose to ring Plain Bob Doubles. Over were the winners with Histon placed second, followed by the scratch band and Fordham who did not complete 120 changes. As a result, Histon, as well as coming second, were presented with the wooden spoon.
June’s evening meeting was held at Littleport where we attracted a local ringer who had recently moved from Sutton. With only 12 ringers present, we rang called changes, the usual triples methods and managed a half course of Cambridge Surprise Major.
In July we enjoyed Roger and Rosemary’s hospitality for a barbeque on the lawn of Shrublands House, with the customary excellent organisation, catering and company. About 45 people were there and almost all the food was eaten, so no problem with left-overs and a profit of £52 to the district funds. The winning tickets for the Grand Draw were drawn, and prizes dispatched, resulting in a profit of £537 for the Bell Restoration Fund.
August’s evening meeting was held at Wilburton. 19 ringers were present, including a visitor from Haverfordwest on his way to Norfolk. We rang mostly minor methods, including Annable’s London (the special method), Netherseale, Norwich, Cambridge, Little Bob and four spliced Cambridge, Surfleet, Beverley and Bourne.
The September meeting was moved to the second Saturday to avoid clashing with the Ringing Roadshow. We started at Isleham with a good turnout of the local ringers; ringing was mainly called changes and plain hunt but Erin Doubles (the special method) was included. After a delicious tea at Isleham, and a business meeting where we elected two ringers from Isleham and two from Longstanton, we moved to Burwell. We were joined there by several members of the Cambridge district on their ringing and cycling tour, since this was also the day of the sponsored cycle ride. At Burwell we included Erin Triples (the special method), plain hunt on seven, called changes, and Cambridge and Yorkshire Surprise Major.
For October, our Ringing Master organised an excellent outing to Essex, including the ten-bell tower at Bocking. This was the first experience of an outing for several of our ringers, so we rang lots of called changes and plain hunt to give everyone a chance to become comfortable with unfamiliar bells.
In November we visited Oakington and Over, and welcomed visitors from Linton, Buckingham and Holt (Norfolk). At Oakington we rang a good variety of minor methods including St Clements, Little Bob, London and Westminster (the special method). At Over, we rang Plain Bob Major, Pudsey Surprise Major (the special method) and also Cambridge and Yorkshire and Grandsire Triples.
The final ringing meeting of the year was held at Histon and Cottenham. Ringing at Histon included mostly successful attempts at Superlative (the special method), also Yorkshire, Cambridge, Stedman, and called changes. At the service, we were joined by Tim English who can no longer ring due to increasingly severe arthritis. It was a very cold day, and a splendid tea of winter vegetable soup with garlic bread, followed by hot puddings with custard, was much appreciated. At Cottenham, we rang Eynesbury (the special method), also called changes and Cambridge.
We have held eight-bell practices regularly during the year, on the third Saturday evening to avoid clashing with tower practice nights. We have had a variety of ringing from called changes and plain hunt to Oxford Bob Triples, Kent Treble Bob, Cambridge and Bristol Surprise Major, and the practices have been useful for the ringers who have attended. Attendance has varied during the year, but we managed 8-bell ringing every month except one, when we rang a quarter of Plain Bob Minor with a cover.
Thanks go to all the incumbents for use of their bells and for taking the services, also to the organists and lesson readers. Thanks also to the ringing masters for making the district ringing enjoyable and useful for us all, to the district officers and committee members for all their hard work in supporting the district, to Peter Johnstone for editing and distributing Striking Features, and to the caterers for feeding us so well.