Ely District Triumph Again

The Ely Diocesan Association Inter-District 8 bell competition was held at Ickleton on the May Day Bank Holiday, on the morning of the AGM. The weather was, unusually for a May Bank Holiday, warm and sunny. Ickleton is a chancel-crossing ground floor ring, so most people listened outside in the churchyard.

The Ely District team.

After the draw, the Huntingdon District rang first and we all enjoyed the familiar sound of a well-struck touch of Grandsire Triples. The Cambridge team, now being complete, rang second and opted for Plain Bob Major. Perhaps, being on home territory, they were more familiar with the bells, several of which are a little odd struck, but are one of the best sounding 8s in the Diocese, being cast by Gillett and Johnston in 1927 with a tenor of 18cwt. The defending champions, the Ely District, rang last, with an unchanged band from last year, and almost all wore the blue 'Winners' polo shirts which were commissioned after last year's victory. There was some tongue-in-cheek muttering about psychological warfare from the other teams but the Ely team were undaunted. Plain Bob Triples was the choice of method and a good piece of ringing was produced according to those listening outside.

General ringing preceeded a short service and then we all walked up the road to the village hall to hear the verdict of the judges before we had lunch. Phil Gorrod and Maggie Ross were quite kind about all three teams. The oddstruck tenor bell was mentioned, and the team ringing Grandsire congratulated on the 'correct' choice of method, leaving those of a nervous disposition in the Ely team worried that their choice of method would not go down too well, especially after the judges said how well the tenor was rung in the Bob Major. However we did not have long to wait for the results. It was quite close, but the Cambridge District came third with 142 faults, Huntingdon were 2nd with 137, which meant that the Ely District had won for the 3rd time in 4 years with 125 faults, and Ringing Master Phil Bailey was delighted to receive the trophy again.

A splendid lunch (chilli and jacket potatoes, followed by a wide range of cakes and deserts) was enjoyed, after which we got down to the serious business of the Annual General Meeting. This proceeded much as usual, with the added interest of a visiting dog, attracted by the open door and closely followed by its owner.

Sheila George stood down after 14 years sterling service as Treasurer, and was warmly thanked for all her efforts. The new treasurer is Nicholas Small from Chesterton. Rosemary Palmer (Fordham), George Bonham (St Neots) and David Lilley (Ickleton) were presented with Certificates for 50 years continuous membership of the Association, to considerable applause. We were shown the certificate for a remarkable 75 years of continuous membership, to be presented to John Gipson (Meldreth), who unfortunately could not be present.

It only remained to thank all those involved in the arrangements and the AGM was over for another year. Will the Ely District manage a hat-trick of wins? Time will tell....

Text by Sue Marsden, with additions from Janet Garnett. Photos by Geoff Grayton.

Sheila George (l), retiring treasurer, is presented with a gift by Dee Smith

Phil Bailey receives the trophy from judge Phil Gorrod