President’s Blog #83

I suppose it is some sort of honour to have someone’s pet fish named after you. In fact, Clare and Tracy’s three fish, two large and one small, are called Simon, Eleanor and Charlie. At least, they were.

It is not known exactly what caused Simon to jump through the hole at the back of the tank to die on the skirting boards below. Was he being chased around the tank? Had he just had enough? Had he contemplated just how messy the motion on reducing the size of the Council could end up being? Whatever it was, Simon’s period in the tank had come to an end.

Holidays have not prevented me from doing a lot of preparation for the Council meeting that is coming up this weekend. This meeting will of course feature the handover of the reins to a new President and Deputy President, and they are sure to hit the ground running. Both Tina Stoecklin and Vicki Chapman, neither of whom are new to the Executive and Workgroups, have been involved in the ongoing strategy development, and Vicki has been in the branding team working with Yellowyoyo. A couple of weeks ago the three of us had a meeting to discuss how workgroups might be adapted to the new “Three Pillars” strategy, particularly cognisant of the fact that both Tina and Vicki are currently workgroup leaders and so will create vacancies.

Much of the last month has consisted of keeping my worlds ticking along from distant locations, enjoying the fine cities of Reykjavik, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Preston, and Lisbon. Many of my observations and reflections in this final Blog are from the Preston leg of the journey, where I enjoyed a few days on the North West Ringing Course.

I have only in the last couple of years set vacation responders on my email accounts, finding that if people find out you’re on holiday they actually send you less email! I am not the sort of person who is able to set one which says “this email will not be monitored”, and I tend to say something realistic like “I’ll answer email once a day but only if I like you.” I need to keep things ticking along and so take advantage of needing less sleep than the rest of the family.

Seeding more regional ringing courses is in the strategy, but it was a bit concerning to learn that it was the entry level options on the NW course that were most over subscribed, the level that should be being catered for by local branches and associations. The course had tried to pitch itself a little higher up the learning curve. On a related note, we are organising a day of ringing in Birmingham this month (School plus afternoon quarters) for someone who is prepared to drive 150 miles to make some progress.

Roger Booth brought the Charmborough ring to Myerscough and it was heavily used, reinforcing why we have built another one in order to improve geographic coverage. A week earlier we had received the Mobile Belfry’s trailer design along with the price. I might need to do an incey wincey bit more fundraising but we’re placing the order to get it finished.

This also started me thinking and researching the towing of caravans. Not that I would be seen dead towing a caravan (no offence) but because I need my next car to be able to tow a Mobile Belfry and I wanted it to be electric or at least hybrid. It’s unlikely to be possible though because the only EV or hybrid up to the task is a Mitsubishi Outlander, and that is firmly at the wrong end of the Cool Wall. Maybe I can justify a Mustang.

There was a Spanish bellringer on the course, and he asked me how we could find out if there are any bellringers in Madrid, as a precursor to a project to get that Warner eight going again. I wasn’t aware of those bells – they do not look to be in an ideal structure! Wider research revealed that bellringing in Spain declined in the 1960s as bellringers wanted more money. It came at a time when the Catholic church was rationalising services and hence reducing the demand for bellringers – electrification was seen as a way of saving money. Be careful what you wish for with increased wedding money!

I was chatting to someone during a tea interval on the North West course who, after deducing who I was, thanked me for all the blogs. Those personal thanks for these blogs have meant a great deal – it has been a pleasure to keep readers informed of what is happening in that previously slightly opaque world of the Council.

All the holidays this summer have given me time to reflect on many things, including coming to the end of this four year term doing a job I never thought I would do. On the one hand I am sad not to be doing longer because I think we have got to a really exciting point – the first couple of years of my Presidency were dominated by Covid, so I have only really had a couple of years of action. But I also think the Council’s rules are right to limit the term – three years without pandemic interruption is good, but six would be too long.

Early in my tenure as President, Jane Wilkinson, a Central Council and ringing grandee, sent me an article she had written for the Ringing World when she had finished being President. It was an excellent piece, in which she said how her perspective on the work of the Central Council had changed and that it had been a privileged position. I echo those sentiments – it has been an honour and a privilege, and my ringing life has been enriched by the number of people I now know who I did not know four years ago.

Simon Linford
President CCCBR

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