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Saturday, 1st November, 2003
(Report by Steve Waters. Photos by Robert Lewis and Dickon Love. Click images to enlarge.)

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The Master (Dickon Love) demonstrating his prowess (or lack of it) on the didgeridoo. Robert Lewis, Editor of the Ringing World, with Hannah Wilby, Kelly Barnes and Katie Town.
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Michael Church with Malcolm Turner and Gwen Rogers. Mark Regan talking to Swaz Apter.
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Dill Faulkes and Sam Hovey. Paul Tiebout, Hannah Wilby and Rupert Littlewood.
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Giles Galley and Stan Mason. Hannah Wilby and Kelly Barnes.
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Andrew Keech and Simon Linford. Mark Bell, Hannah Wilby and Rupert Littlewood
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Kelly Barnes, Stef Warboys and Mike Trimm. Tony Bloomfield and David Macey.

Two years ago, I remember writing that the Society weekend started with one peal attempt on Friday. How things have changed. This year the celebrations started on Thursday with Jeff Brannon’s band going to Shoreditch, so I can imagine that in a few years time "Weekend" will become "Week", such is support for the Dinner Weekend these days. Unfortunately, Jeff’s peal attempt was lost at Shoreditch due to what has become known as "Brummy Tummy". At least Rod wasn’t there with his camera to record the outcome!

On Friday there were, for the first time ever, concurrent peal attempts at St. Paul’s, St. Sepluchre’s, Cornhill, Cripplegate, Bow and Jewry. Peals being scored at, St. Sepulchre’s, Cornhill, Cripplegate and Jewry, with losses at St. Paul’s and Bow. David Baverstock came up with the best excuse of the evening, when he apologised for being 20 minutes late to open up at Jewry. This was apparently due to a stone in his shoe. You could almost hear Wilfred saying "stone me". Later in the evening, about 100 or so members and friends enjoyed drinking at one of our regular haunts - Davy’s Wine Bar in Creed Lane. It was a pity that the ordinary bitter ran out quite so quickly. Allegedly, the solution to preventing this problem happening again, is for next year’s organiser to ask Andrew Stubbs to ring in one of the peal attempts.

In recent years a lack of enthusiasm, led to general ringing on Saturday being cancelled, so the day for some, started with lunchtime drinking at The Chamberlain in The Minories. There were, however, successful peal attempts at Bow, Cripplegate, South Croydon and Fulham, with Jeff’s band also scoring at Kingston-upon-Thames on Sunday. In the late afternoon there was a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the form of a Sung Eucharist for All Saints Day, and the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the bells of St. Paul’s. Before the service, invited bands comprising members of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Past Masters and members elected during Dickon’s year rang four touches.

The Dinner itself followed the usual format, with George Bush, Rector of St. Mary-le-Bow setting the tone of the evening, by opening proceedings with a very amusing grace. There was the usual taking of wine with various sections of the membership, including those with over 60 years (Stan Mason – 67, Jim Bullock – 62 and Vernon Benning - 60), and those over 50 years (Basil Jones, Jeff White, David Kingston, Jim Phillips, Michael Chilcott, Philip Hudson and John Ketteringham).

We were also pleased to have join us several members from overseas, namely: John Owen (accompanied by his wife Ina) and Ed Futcher from America, Alan Ellis and Geoff White from Vancouver, as well as temporary interlopers Terry Streeter and Brian Diserens who are working in Germany.

Two of the three prospective Junior Stewards attended, namely Jim Hardy and Stef Warboys, one of whom will have been elected to the post by the time you read this article. The other candidate’s name escapes me, as I hadn’t "hearn" of him before his nomination. It’s not since 1984 that we’ve had an election for Junior Steward, and it’s a sign of our current strength that we have more than one candidate, including the first of many ladies who may want to take office in the Society.

The speeches began with the Master proposing the Church. This was achieved by way of various tales of events that happened during his year as Master, such as the lawn sports at the Cambridge Country Meeting, the culture in Liverpool being difficult which is why they sent us Mark Humphreys, as well as a wind-up about the need for a ‘moderator’ for peals rung in the Liverpool area. We heard about some of the exploits on the ANZ tour, such as a male member of the party chatting-up a lesbian barmaid in Sydney, and 10 of the party having to be breathalysed prior to walking up Sydney Harbour Bridge. Dickon finished up by giving us a performance on a didgeridoo followed by much applause. He then went on to propose the Church, as you eventually do, which may well have confused Dr. John Moses, Dean of St. Paul’s who had to somehow find a way of replying to all this gay repartee. He did however, get off to a good start by referring to the Master’s 18 inches (didgeridoo), in what was his second speech on ringing in a few hours – the other being his sermon in St. Paul’s earlier.

As Master of the St. Paul’s Guild in the 125th anniversary year of the dedication of the new peal of bells, Paul Mounsey was invited to propose the Society. Paul did so by way of a joke, followed by sharing with us some of his experiences since he joined the College Youths and the St. Paul’s band, including the admission of non-College Youths into the band, which was seen by some as the catalyst for admitting women into the Society. A reference to Ian Duncan Smith and the similarity in the name to a past master caused much amusement, together with more jokes, and finishing up with a compliment to Phil Rogers on his work as Secretary (especially as much of Phil’s work is achieved behind the scenes).

Phil gave the usual Secretary’s response, reminding us about the fantastic year the Society had enjoyed, much of which has been touched on above. He also spoke of Jim Phillip’s retirement as Secretary of St. Paul’s, and how much hard work he’d put into the job with his sheet of paper! Alan Ainsworth is now the new Secretary of St. Paul’s. We were told that the "other" society wanted Alan to join them many years ago by way of a belfry election prior to a peal attempt. Fortunately for us, all the peal attempts where this happened (yes there was more than one attempt) were lost. A reference to the Member for Folkestone and teamwork brought more laughter, as did a comment that Phil and Mark Regan were regarded as young radicals a few years ago. This was in reference to the Society becoming younger, with those talented new members having an important role to play in our future, something that the current Master had encouraged.

There were 36 new members elected during the year, of which 20 were able to join us at the Dinner We also remembered, by standing in silence, the 13 members who had died during the year, some of whom were famous names in the exercise. One of those who died was Frank Darby, who this year would have been a member for 79 years. Among the others was Ernie Rowe, who left the Society A$500 for a drink, which we will do at the November meeting.

Dates for next year were given out, including the final of the National 12 bell contest at Bow, where the Society is the host. There was also going to be a formal invitation to all overseas members to come and visit us in 2005, details of which are still to be finalised. After six years at the Hall of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, very generously subsidised by Dill Faulkes, we are moving next year to the Tower Thistle Hotel, Tower Bridge. This is a venue that can hold up to 400, so (Howard Smith) book early to avoid disappointment! As already mentioned, the scrapping of ringing was noted, but with a comment that it was probably to the detriment of Andrew (typecast?) Stubbs, who wanted ringing in order to keep down the queues at the pub bar.

Finally, Phil reminded us that if elected at the November meeting, this would be his last year as Secretary.

A superb touch of spliced Phobos, Bristol, Phobos was rung on handbells by Paul Mounsey (C), Michael Wilby, John Hughes-D’Aeth, Graham Firman David Hull and Paul Carless.

In proposing the guests, Simon Linford told us how he’d found his old speech of 12 years ago when he was previously Junior Steward, and how similar this evening’s speech would be. Only the guest’s names and jokes (so he says), were different. He had recently faced two challenges, the first one being to find 56 ringers for peals attempts (in addition to the 12 at St. Paul’s), and getting staff for the Woking Beer Festival. You can guess which was the easier task. He also read out an email from Jim Phillips, in which Jim explained in his own inimitable way why he couldn’t ring in any of Simon’s attempts. The excuse revolved around books, bottles and an injured leg, I think. Simon thought that something along the lines of "I don’t want to ring" would have been easier.

Simon also told us how Ian Fielding, who as Master of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths, was responding to the toast, got his nickname of Glint. Apparently, Paul Williams was to blame, as it was Paul who commented on the "mad glint" in Ian’s eye at a practice somewhere. Fortunately for Ian, the "mad" was dropped soon afterwards. Comments about Heather Kippin (future mother-in-law), followed by a joke involving Ian, Derek Sibson and Jane ‘halloween’ Wilkinson ended with the belief that Ian was in fact God. This I found strange, as I always thought that an ex-member, with a political sounding name as mentioned earlier, had that honour. Maybe the universe is bigger than I thought.

On behalf of the guests Ian thanked the Society for the warm welcome extended to all the guests. He said that he had asked Heather Kippin about speeches. Heather thought that if you said "Andrew Wilby", you’d be guaranteed a good laugh – how right she was, as this comment produced the biggest laugh of the evening. Future speech-makers take note - we’ve moved on from David Potter. There was the idea that there were many differences between the two societies, except orange juice. Ian talked about the recent publicity for encouraging younger ringers in the exercise, and the Cumberlands ringing more on lower numbers at practices than the College Youths, as well as how both societies could offer all ringers the ability to progress.

For the last toast, we remembered the names of the Masters of 300, 200 and 100 years ago, and we drunk a toast, in silence, to their memory.

The rest of what was yet again a very successful evening, was spent socialising in the usual manner until it was time, for those not staying up, to catch the last train home. Next year we can all stay up by booking into rooms in the Tower Thistle Hotel, and partying until dawn, or when the beer runs out.

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During the break in the dinner.
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During the break in the dinner. Adam Greenley.
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Paul Carless Steve Castle and Robert Lewis.
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Stephanie Pattenden, Margaret Edwards and
Iain Anderson
Graham Firman and Nigel Newton.
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Jane Waters and her brother, John White. Robert Lee and David Maynard.
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Dill Faulkes and Sam Hovey. Mark Humphreys with Emma Drury and
Vicky Halliwell.
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Simon Linford and Andy Bradford examining something. John Owen chats to Val Clatworthy.
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Slightly camera shy Jeff Brannan with
Chris Stanley.
Mike Birkbeck, Mark Witham, Paul Williams and Jim Hardy.
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Chris Pickford, Jim Clatworthy and Andrew Keech. The Secretary deep in conversation with Ann Wilby.
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Andrew Wilby, Jo and Ian Fielding and Barbara Foster. John Taylor chats to Charlotte Everett.
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Clive Smith, Derek Thomas, Paul Tiebout, Tessa Beadman, Hannah Wilby, Paul Hunter and Rupert Littlewood.

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