The Ancient
Society of
Est. 1637

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Saturday 15th July

(Click on pic to enlarge)

Report and photographs courtesy of John Warboys.

The venue for this year's country meeting was the Master's home territory of Birmingham. Proceedings commenced as usual with several peal attempts on the preceding Thursday and Friday, with towers chosen mainly to test Stuart Hutchieson's bold statement that "there are no bad bells in Staffordshire". Thanks are due to Anthea Edwards for organising the towers, and to the Junior Steward, Mark Humphreys, for putting together the bands. There were successes on Thursday at Bilston, Coseley and Mavesyn Ridware (with a loss at Norton Canes), and on Friday peals were scored at Hoar Cross, Shenstone and Ticknall (with a loss at Abbots Bromley, and a non-start at St Paul's Birmingham due to a diary clash - the only tower that Anthea hadn't organised!). On the Thursday evening, once Chris Kippin had arrived safely on foot from Worcester, a few members and friends gathered together for a meal at an Italian restaurant in Moseley close to Simon and Eleanor Linford's new home; a larger contingent convened for drinks in the Wellington on the Friday evening, unfortunately minus the Master, who was dealing with some damage to her car (for which, unusually, she was not responsible herself!).

Saturday saw general ringing taking place in the city at St Philip's Cathedral, St Paul's and St Martin's, with lunch being taken at the Old Joint Stock. This ringing was well supported, with several members taking advantage of the opportunity to ring on the excellent new ten at St Paul's, and others having their first go at ringing on sixteen at St Martin's, either for 'jump' call changes or for Bristol S Sixteen, with some very creditable performances. A peal attempt at Northfield in the morning was unsuccessful, but was notable for a rather amusing incident when Graham Bradshaw suffered a wardrobe malfunction, leaving him thankful that he wasn't wearing any embarrassing underwear !

The Business Meeting was held in the prestigious setting of the Council Chamber at the Council House on Victoria Square. This wood-panelled chamber is a semi-circular room with tiered seating facing a central rostrum where the Master and the other officers took their seats, and it was an honour for the Society to be able to conduct its business at this magnificent venue. Richard Grimmett, Master of the St Martin's Guild, welcomed the Society to Birmingham, and the customary brief Business Meeting ensued.

The Dinner itself took place in the adjacent Council House Banqueting Suite, another impressive room beautifully adorned with flowers, familiar to many as the venue for the annual Henry Johnson Commemoration Dinner; just over eighty members and guests were in attendance and, as usual, the Council House staff provided excellent food and service. Country Meeting dinners are normally informal with no speeches, but an exception was made this year when Past Master Paul Mounsey was called upon to say a few words in honour of the Society Treasurer, Andrew Stubbs, who had announced at the previous London Business Meeting that he would not be standing as Treasurer again next year. Paul highlighted the significant contributions Andrew has made during his twenty-five years in the post, and presented him with a gift to mark this major anniversary, which Andrew duly accepted in his normal humble manner. There was plenty of time after the meal for further socialising but, despite the efforts of many, there was still plenty of beer left at the end of the evening. This seemed due to over-zealous estimates of our drinking capacities, rather than a failure to maintain our reputation! The consensus seemed to be that the decision by the Master to hold both the Business Meeting and the Dinner at the Council House had proved to be an excellent one.

Despite a few sore heads the next morning, many turned up to support service ringing at the various city towers, followed by lunch at the Bull. A peal attempt at St Chad's Cathedral unfortunately came to grief, but there was success at St Martin's where a peal was rung in memory of Past Master Wilfred Williams. There were then leisurely journeys home for those who had travelled from afar, and time to catch up on sleep for those closer to home, after what had proved to be a most enjoyable weekend for all.

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The Secretary, Master and Treasurer in the Birmingham Council Chambers. Becky Sugden & Martin Cansdale.
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Paul Mounsey congratulates Andrew Stubbs on his 25 years as Treasurer. Presentation to Andrew Stubbs - seen here are John Hughes-D'Aeth, Paul Mounsey, Andrew Stubbs & Stephanie Warboys.
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Andrew Stubbs in conversation with Andrew Wilby.

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