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The tower AGM, chaired by the Rector in January, saw two significant changes of officer. Jon Tutcher stood down as Ringing Master and was succeeded by Nigel Mellor. Mhairi Miller was elected Steeple Keeper (the person who looks after the hardware), and in doing so when not quite 17, became the youngest person ever to hold a tower office. The previous youngest officers, also Steeple Keepers, were Evan Kozakiewicz (18) and Simon Tomlinson (19) in the 1980s. Two years ago Mhairi attended a course on tower maintenance, run by the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers. Since then she has been a keen assistant during maintenance sessions in the tower, and now she will have the chance to develop her practical experience in a position of responsibility.
Shortly after the AGM, on the morning of the tower dinner, Mhairi rang her first peal. Nearly three hours of continuous ringing might seem a daunting prospect to a non-ringer, but ringing a peal (over 5000 changes) is the ‘gold standard’ performance to which most ringers aspire. About 5000 peals are rung worldwide each year. This peal, 5056 changes of Superlative Surprise Major, was the 78th peal to be rung at All Saints, the first being in 1903, shortly after the bells were augmented to eight. There is more about the history of peal ringing at All Saints on the tower website: www.allsaintswokinghambells.org.uk/peals/
The annual tower dinner was at the Frog & Wicket in Eversley, and included a performance of Kent Treble Bob Major rung on handbells. Jo Robinson was guest speaker, and she challenged us all to move out of our comfort zones. In contrast, Neil Curnow, whose name had earlier been drawn out of a hat to give the traditional ‘third speech’, had everyone in stitches as he graphically recounted getting his sweater stuck over his head while ringing a peal in his youth.
John Harrison (February 2010)
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