District secretary's reports


2019

Average attendance at meetings is approximately 17, slightly up on last year. This was boosted by good support of both striking competitions.  Walsoken hosted the excellent RSS striking competition, which is a different format and drew 22 people to have a go and ring with different people. The method competition at Walpole St Peter was also well supported, with 4 teams and 24 entrants. Thanks go to our local judges, Anne and Heather, for their hard work on both occasions. The new ring at Elm also attracted a good attendance, although I think most of us would have welcomed some soundproofing! 

The ADM in 2019 decided that Wisbech District would enter a team in the Ely DA 8 bell striking competition in May 2020, and various practices have been held to encourage more people to ring on 8 bells. Downham Market and Wisbech both host regular practices, but it’s not easy to get all the aspiring ringers together and I don’t envy Heather her job in selecting a team. 

The committee has met three times during the past year. Thanks to the members of the committee for all their hard work and also to the President for his drive and enthusiasm.

Ringing in the District suffers from the geographical constraints of the area, but there are pockets of hope and enthusiasm. It would be good to see the outlying towers more engaged in local practices, but we are all fully committed in our local areas. ‘We need to encourage more people to visit towers with more advanced ringing, so that the expertise can be passed on. The knowledge and experience present in the District must not be lost and we must continue to encourage ringers of all abilities and experience to develop and enjoy their ringing. But it needs work on both sides, and a willingness to step out of the comfort zone and travel to other towers. There are mixed opinions on the value of ringing quarter peals, but we can’t do it unless more people come forward to attempt to call them’ This was what I said last year and I’m deliberately repeating it.
Pam Wakeling

2018

A mixed year again. Average attendance hasn’t changed much, but changes to the programme are reflected in part. Instead of an October meeting, we were hosts to the Ely DA for the special October event. This involved a great deal of work from Bob and his team, opening local towers, providing a quiz and ending at Wisbech, where Martin had organised tea with the Wisbech St Mary ringers doing a fine job. It was disappointing to receive very little support from the District as a whole, with very few of the Ely DA committee attending. Our thanks are due to those who did, and to Alan Winter, who stood in for the ringing master and rang the Wisbech ringing.  

There were some changes in the programme this year, as we tried new ways of holding striking competitions. The non-method programme, held at Walsoken, seemed to be very successful and enjoyed by all who took part. Thirty nine people were recorded as attending, representing seven towers. This left the method section to stand alone and it took place at Magdalen, with four teams, more teams than we’d had for some time, and twenty participants. It was an encouraging start to a new format, which allowed more towers to share ringers, as few towers in the District can muster a full team themselves. On both occasions, the judges were Anne Carpenter and Heather Dobson, and we must thank them for their time and the positive attitude they showed to sometimes struggling ringers.

The June meeting was the annual outing, which went over to the Whaplode side of the District and gave everyone a chance to ring at a new tower or two. (Whaplode, Long Sutton, Spalding, Gedney Hill and Gedney. Thanks to those who organised this.) Attendance at other meetings was often disappointing. However, it was particularly encouraging to see two new ringers from Walsoken make the effort to travel into ‘new’ country and ring at Northwold. We really need to have more people doing this. There is ringing for everyone at every meeting, but there need to be enough ringers to allow all levels of ringing that we can manage. One short of a major band is not very useful. 

Ringing development in the early stages continues strongly under Bob’s enthusiastic tuition, and the committee were pleased to nominate him for an ART award for recruitment and retention. We need to encourage more people to visit towers with more advanced ringing, so that the expertise can be passed on. The knowledge and experience present in the District must not be lost and we must continue to encourage ringers of all abilities and experience to develop and enjoy their ringing. But it needs work on both sides, and a willingness to step out of the comfort zone and travel to other towers. There are mixed opinions on the value of ringing quarter peals, but we can’t do it unless more people come forward to attempt to call them.   
Pam Wakeling

2017

It’s been a mixed year. Average attendance at meetings has been a little over 17, boosted by the regular help from visitors from the other Districts. Three extra meetings were held, the ‘Ring Something Simple’ events for less experienced ringers, or those who do not want to ring more than Plain Hunt and Call Changes, in an attempt to encourage them to come to regular meetings. These meetings were successful, but have not resulted in many of the less experienced ringers coming to general meetings. Those who have found the experience useful and less terrifying than they had expected! The geographical problems of the District, with small bands scattered across wide areas, does not help. There are two main focuses in the District: Shouldham and Fincham in the East and Walsoken in the West/Central, where both handling and method ringing to surprise minor level are encouraged. These areas are more than twenty miles apart, across fenland where roads and lighting are a problem.  There aren’t really many opportunities for those who wish to progress to go to other practices on a regular basis, but this is what new ringers need. People who can ring methods, and want to progress, need to travel and share the bands and experience in other towers. 

The experiment with four Ringing Masters has been interesting. Now that a year has passed, more communication and partnership between the new Ringing Masters should be evident, to everyone’s benefit, as they realise the problems and the benefits. We rarely see quarter peals rung in this District, as so few people are capable of calling them. More help is needed here. 

We had a successful outing in June, organised by Brian Hullah, and the two learners who came found it gave them great opportunities for practice and encouragement. The striking competition was cancelled because of the lack of support which had not been expressed earlier when the programme was agreed. I found this extremely disappointing and short sighted, but on the plus side we had a useful and well organised practice at Shouldham. One member who doesn’t usually come to meetings was extremely pleased to do something a little out of her comfort zone with more experienced ringers! There are plans for a slightly different format to the striking competition in 2018. The Wisbech District entered the Ely DA 8 bell striking competition again, at Meldreth. We didn’t win! But we found the experience enjoyable and worthwhile and an aid to our progress, and I fully expect the District to enter again in 2018. We can work towards winning in a few years’ time, and benefit from the experience, instead of just opting out. It would be good to have a regular 8 bell method practice in the District. Taking part and learning is what matters.

The new President, Bob Cox, is tirelessly working for the ringing development in the District and is to be commended for his enthusiasm. We don’t always agree, but have developed an understanding! The knowledge and experience present in the District must not be lost and we must continue to encourage ringers of all abilities and experience to develop and enjoy their ringing. But it needs work on both sides, and a willingness to step out of the comfort zone and travel to other towers.
Pam Wakeling

2016

Once again, I’ve analysed the attendance records at the meetings of the District during 2016. Over all twelve meetings the average attendance was 16.2, including the regular and much valued attendance of one or two visitors from the Ely District. However, if you take out the attendance at the District striking competition in September, the figure drops to 14.4. We had an astonishing 36 people attending the competition in September, which was marvellous. Where are these ringers for the rest of the year? Was it the timing of the ringing, which started at 6 pm, or the constant nagging from me to encourage towers to enter? The bells were good and the welcome and refreshments excellent, but this applies to other towers as well. During the winter we ring at 3 pm and in the summer we go back to 7 pm. Is the membership saying that 6pm would be preferable?

It's usually the same towers that support the meetings, but the others are missing out. Perhaps they are scared of being out of their depth with strange bells and strange people, but the Ringing Master has always made great efforts to provide ringing at every level for those who come to the meetings. If all the District members attended it would be too many, but it would be very good to see more people over the course of the year and enable more people to ring things they can’t ring in their own tower. Our District does not have the clusters of towers that occur in the other districts and we have to travel quite long distances to get more ringing if we want it. The meetings offer an opportunity to overcome the handicaps of low numbers and distance. It has been good to see Walsoken beginning to develop as an active teaching tower.

The outing was once again organised by Anne Carpenter and Prue Lester and visited the towers of the NDA Southern District. Once again, we were even fewer than usual, which limited what we could ring. In one tower we were a minor part of their village fete, which was slightly off-putting but may have interested visitors who were not familiar with the exercise. Anne and Prue put a lot of work into the outing and it would have been great to have received more support from the members.

During the year a variety of courses have been arranged. Anne Carpenter organised several sessions to teach Plain Hunt, and it would be good to see the students at District meetings to consolidate this teaching. In May, the District organised the EDA AGM at Terrington St Clement. We were congratulated on the arrangements and the refreshments. Wisbech District entered the EDA 8 bell striking competition for the first time in many years and were warmly welcomed by the other Districts. Refreshments have been provided several times this year by the ringers at Wisbech St Mary and we must record our thanks to them for a marvellous job. They actually say they like doing it! In the second part of the year we had help from the Ely District in running an extra 8 bell practice, from which arose the course on Stedman Doubles and Triples held in October by Alan Winter. Several members of the District have attended courses and also gone for private practice at Stretham Ringing Centre, which is recommended to you all. It’s possible to ask for help that suits you as an individual or your tower band as a group. It would be good to see our District making good use of the facilities and expertise on hand.

At the ADM, some officers who have served the District faithfully for many years stood down. Brian Hullah has been both joint RM and President for many years and Anne Carpenter has been an energetic and enthusiastic RM for many years as well. We owe them a debt of gratitude as a District and hope to see them both at meetings in the future. 
Pam Wakeling

2015

There have been nine 'ordinary' meetings this year, with an average attendance of just over 15. This includes at least one, and sometimes two, ringers from Ely District who come to join us on a regular basis. When you consider that I regularly send out at least fifty reminders to towers and to individuals, this is disappointing. Are the tower correspondents passing on the information?

The outing in June was better supported, but still only 19 people attended, including three learners who enjoyed it so much that they now come regularly to District monthly meetings.  It was a well-organised outing which started at Cromer, taking in Wells next the Sea, Sculthorpe and East Rudham and the weather favoured us as well. It was most enjoyable and thanks to Prue Lester for doing the hard work of organising the towers. 

The District Striking competition at Denver in September was again a disappointing turnout, after the high attendance of the previous year, with only three towers entering. March were worthy winners of the method section, narrowly beating Shouldham, and Methwold retained the novices' crown. Anne's scratch band from several towers took part at short notice and will have gained from the experience. I hope this year's competition will have more support. Many thanks to Alan and Marj Winter, who judged with humour and understanding.

The ringers' carol service in December took place at Upwell and was most enjoyable. We were made very welcome by the vicar, a former ringer, and Julia had arranged excellent refreshments for us. The organist even complimented the ringers on the quality of the singing!

A successful course on tower maintenance and rope splicing was held at Watlington in the autumn and following from that there are further ringing courses planned. If you want to do something, say so and help will probably be available. I've tried to bring the benefits of the Stretham ringing centre to your notice and I hope some people will make use of it, as I have.

Once again, I’ve tried to use email to keep in touch with members and their towers. I know that sending the tower captain a reminder of meetings, or a copy of the annual programme, does not guarantee that every member of the band receives the information, so please let me have your email address for regular updates if you want to know what is going on. The programme for 2016 is interesting, with a range of towers, so please try to support it. Practice nights and times are listed on the  EDA website, so it’s important that you keep your details up to date. Some towers ring in the afternoon during the winter months, so it's quite important to know this. You can kill two birds with one stone by emailing me and I’ll pass the details on to the webmaster. If you can't ring something at your tower, try joining another tower for their practice. One more ringer may well make all the difference for them and it may invigorate your own practice!

Annual Reports: In spite of several requests, few people have responded to my request for up-to-date information re the Annual Report and whether your tower wants a printed copy. I still have some that were not collected this year. There is an online copy available, so if you would rather have that, please let me know.

This report is slightly less optimistic than last year's, but I hope 2016 brings a vigorous Wisbech District to engage with the opportunities to improve our ringing and encourage others to join us and take up the hobby we all enjoy. If we don't use it, we'll lose it.
Pam Wakeling

2014

I’d like to thank those who have helped me during my first year as District Secretary, particularly the previous Secretary and the Ringing Master. I’ve enjoyed It immensely and met a great many ringers.

Support for the monthly meetings has remained steady and is slightly up on last year, bolstered by friends from outside the district who come to ring with us.

Two highlights of the year were the annual outing, ably organised by Prue Lester, and the District Striking Competition with nearly fifty ringers in seven teams. The winners of the striking competition were Shouldham in the method section and Methwold in the novices, but all the teams made a tremendous contribution to the success of the event. It was good to see so many ringers: the other teams were March, Upwell and a band which included Watlington and Walsoken. Some changes to the rules were agreed as a result of our experience this year and I’ve already heard of another team which is planning to enter for the first time in many years. Not every tower can produce six ringers, so it’s an excellent opportunity to work with other towers.

We also had a successful Ringers’ carol service at Shouldham , taken by the Rural Dean of Fincham and Feltwell, the Revd. Barbara Burton.  Refreshments provided by Shouldham church, the President’s tower, were gratefully received after an afternoon of ringing. Excellent Christmas cake!! 

This year I’ve tried to use email to keep in touch with members and their towers. I have mostly tower captains and incumbents on my list, but also individuals, especially in the east of the district. I’m not naïve enough to think that sending the tower captain a reminder of meetings, or a copy of the annual programme, will automatically reach every member of the band,  so please let me have your email address for regular updates if you want to know what is going on.

The programme for 2015 is interesting, with a range of towers, so please try to support it. Ringing in this district isn’t easy, as opportunities are limited and far apart, but if we support each other and visit other towers to practise what we can’t do at home, we can hope for improvement.  Practice nights are listed on the  EDA website, so it’s important that you keep your details up to date. You can kill two birds with one stone by emailing me and I’ll pass the details on to the webmaster.

Pam Wakeling

2013

We started the year with the Annual District Meeting in January at Downham Market.  Thanks to all who helped with the teas. 22 members attended and 1 new member was signed up. 

During the year our monthly meetings took us around the district with ringing at different towers.

The summer outing, organised by Prue Lester. Took us around the Spalding area. 

Hockwold was the host tower for the district striking competition, teams from Methwold, Shouldham & Wisbech took part. Methwold won the novice section & Shouldham won the methods.

The last event for the year was the carol service at Downham Market, after a change of venue. 16 members turned up to ring and enjoyed tea & cake after the service, thanks to Pam, Andrew & Edward.

Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, loan of bells to ring and patience in teaching those who need help.

This is my last report as secretary, thanks to all who have supported me over the last 5 years and good luck to the new secretary.

Pauline O’Neill

2012

A better year for Wisbech District with ringers getting involved in monthly meetings.

Six towers rang for the Queen’s diamond jubilee; Clenchwarton on 5th June a peal of spliced doubles; Denver on 5th June a quarter peal; Terrington St Clement on 3rd June; Upwell on 30th May a quarter peal of bob doubles; Wisbech St Mary on 4th June a quarter peal of Reverse Canterbury; Watlington on 4th June called changes.

16 members went on the outing in June to west Norfolk. Let us hope 2013 will continue with the rise in interest.

Pauline O’Neill


2011

We started the year with our Annual District meeting at Downham Market, 29 members attended, thank you Downham for the use of your bells and the tea.

Monthly meeting attendances varied from nine to twenty-four. The district striking competition was poorly supported with only two towers putting up a team for each level plus a scratch team. The time of the competition was altered to suit all but the towers which requested the change were not there. The outing was cancelled due to lack of support and only nine members attended the Carol Service.

A disappointing year in terms of support and enthusiasm from members, lets hope 2012 will see some improvement.
Pauline O'Neill


2010

We started the year with the Annual District Meeting in January at Wisbech St Peter. Thanks to all who helped with the teas. Thirty members attended and one new member were signed up.

During the year our monthly meetings took us around the district with ringing at different towers.The summer outing, organised by Brian Hullah, took us around Rutland.

Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen was the host tower for the district striking competition, a disappointing turn out, this turned out to be the busiest day for weddings in the district.

The last event for the year was the carol service at Wisbech St Peter, despite the frost and snow, sixteen members turned up to ring and enjoyed tea and mince pies after the service.Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, loan of bells to ring and patience in teaching those who need help.
Pauline O’Neill

2009

We started the year again with the Annual District Meeting in January at Downham Market. Thanks to Eric & his “ladies” for the tea. 38 members attended and nine new members were signed up.

During the year our monthly meetings took us around the district with ringing at different towers.

The summer outing, organised by Doreen Bainbridge, took us around the Ely District and included a visit to the Ely fayre. We recorded a ring at each tower for Ely 900 and managed to include everyone, even the learners, in this.

Fincham was the host tower for the district striking competition, well done to everyone, remember it is the taking part that matters, unless you happen to be the winners !

Average attendance at the monthly meetings was eighteen, slightly up on last year, but still room for more ringers to socialise and improve their skills.

The last event for the year was the carol service at Wisbech St Mary, our deepest snow for years prevented all but local ringers from attending. Eight hardy souls rang until 4:00pm, the service was lead by Matthew and Brian played the organ. We then went across the road to Church House where we enjoyed home made soup, rolls, cakes and nibbles, thanks to David & Annie.

Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, loan of bells to ring and patience in teaching those who need help.
Pauline O’Neill

2008

We started the year with the Annual District Meeting in January at Downham Market. 32 members attended and there was ringing prior to the meeting.

During the year our monthly meetings took us around the district with ringing at many different towers. Average attendance at the monthly meetings was a disappointing fourteen. In 2009 we have planned the meetings to spread more evenly around the area to try and encourage more ringers to socialise and improve their skills.

The summer outing, organised by Terry Greenacre, took us to Alford in Lincolnshire calling at several village towers on the way back, this included a surprise ring for a wedding!

Shouldham was the host tower for the district striking competition, well done to those taking part, but disappointing that only four towers entered teams.

Thanks to everyone for their hospitality, loan of bells to ring and patience in teaching those who need help.

Pauline O'Neill

2007

George Herbert’s poem ‘Prayer’ speaks of “church bells heard beyond the stars”. Well, as far as we know, that’s something we have yet to achieve, but Wisbech District’s bells were ringing out from most of our twenty-eight towers during the year, for practices and monthly meetings. We travelled from Terrington St Clement in the North, South to Denver for the Striking Competition, West to Newton and East to Fincham enjoying some good ringing and some excellent ringers’ teas!

We ventured across the River Great Ouse in April for a meeting at St Margaret’s, King’s Lynn and again in June for a day’s ringing at five Norfolk towers including Cromer and Northrepps. Attendance at meetings averaged nineteen, an increase from last year, helped often by visitors from other districts and Associations whose help we much appreciate. It would be good to see some new names signing in our Meeting book - we know there are members out there who don’t often appear at District events and we’d be pleased to meet them.

Monthly practices started in the autumn at Terrington St Clement, providing useful eight bell experience for our mostly six bell ringers. Shouldham’s six bells have undergone long-awaited restoration and returned to the tower in late January 2008. We look forward also to welcoming the Association to Terrington St Clement on 5 May for the 2008 Annual General Meeting.Thanks as ever to our caterers, fund-raisers, tower captains and clergy for their support during the year.
Jennifer Watts