Those of you who were at the 2012 AGM will recall a sticky discussion on finding individuals prepared to take on the roles of President and Treasurer.  This was followed at the next Leicester District meeting by Mark Pendery asking the interesting question – Why doesn’t anyone want to be President? And so the usual four minute interlude in ringing to check for new members and notices became an hour long conversation that touched on many aspects of Guild life.  No conclusions were reached but the conversation was stimulating – a couple of folk even said it was one of the better meetings that they had been to! Given that lunch beckoned and that Tigers were playing that afternoon agreement was reached to continue the conversation one Sunday evening in late November.

With the arrival of tea and cake and a few more friends co-opted, we settled down with post-it notes and white boards to brainstorm. The first question was whether we felt the Guild was a good thing. Fortunately, otherwise it would have been a very short conversation, the agreement was unanimous that it is and so we went on to capture statements on what we felt the objectives of the Guild should be and how we felt the Guild should support new ringers, experienced ringers and ringers from outside the Guild. We also considered what we would miss about the Guild and finally how we felt we should organise ourselves. By this time we had sticky notes scattered across the sitting room, several of us had resorted to beer and three hours had gone by. Agreement was reached to meet again but with Christmas on the horizon it would be mid-January before this could happen. In the meantime emails were circulated and we organised the ideas generated into categories for further discussion.

With more tea & cake (does the Guild function on tea and cake?) we settled down again but this time concentrating on a few specific areas that had featured heavily on the last occasion. The first major area was about creating a community of ringers. We felt that a key objective for the Guild is to maintain a supportive environment for ringers of all experiences. An example of how this could be created would be to provide more information about the Guild to new joiners, perhaps in a handbook form that would cover how the Guild works, what the Guild offers and how to get involved. Even within the room there wasn’t a clear understanding of what the Guild insurance covers! Communication was considered. What is the role of the website, how do the newsletter and the report fit together and could recent innovations like Facebook provide a more dynamic and up to the minute form of engagement?

The second major area touched on was the act of ringing itself and particularly teaching and continued development. How could the Guild utilise ideas coming from ITTS, the Integrated Teacher Training Scheme, and what support can be given to more experienced ringers looking to expand their skills both in methods and striking. Not surprisingly many other topics were discussed and all of these will be presented in due course. Throughout the conversations the intent has always been to support the Guild through new ideas rather than to create a revolution.

As a group we will meet again and, amongst other items, work out how to present our thoughts to the Guild as a whole. My thanks go to John, Anthony, Francis, Lianne, Sue, Mark, Heather, Pam, Garry, Nicky, Brenda, Andrew, Nicholas and Andrew for their input.

Dave Carling