Exactly 100 years had passed when the branch came to together to commemorate the life of Mr Frederick Charles Andrews and also to: hold its AGM; and enjoy the return of the Annual Dinner following a long absence from the branch calendar.
The curious sound of bells ringing in Newton Blossomville attracted the villagers.
The day started with half muffled ringing at Newton Blossomville, a ring of 3 which is seldom rung; members of North Bucks were joined by members from Bedford who used to live in the village. The sounds of the church bells ringing brought out some locals to see what was going on. They were interested to learn that Frederick was also a bell ringer, it was known that he was a choir boy as he was one of the young men they commemorated in a display last November.
The ringing at Newton Blossomville was then followed by half muffled ringing at Clifton Reynes where Frederick rang regularly for services.
The sacrifice of Frederick Charles Andrews was remembered 100 years on.
A short but poignant service was held and our thanks go to The Reverend Canon Christa Pumfrey for conducting the moving ceremony.
During the service the branch WWI memorial candle was lit and Doug read a poem entitled Newport Bells.
This poem was written in 1916 by Ester Bateman and is about the impact of war on the town and the comfort the sound of the church bells brought her. Two of the hymns chosen were those sung at the original Chicheley memorial service held for Arthur William Wright, who will be commemorated at our branch practice in April.
Our thanks go to Mike and Chris Davies who kindly provided light refreshments after the service.
Almost a game of musical chairs played out at the AGM
At 6pm members of the branch gathered at the Two Brewers, Olney for pre-drinks with the AGM commencing at 6.15pm. During the AGM ten new members were approved and welcomed to the branch and we wish them every enjoyment in their future ringing. A few changes were made to the branch committee, Graham Bartholomew was elected as Chairman following Brian Newman’s decision not to stand again – we thank Brian for his commitment to the branch and wish him well for the future. Patricia Rosewell stood down as Minutes Secretary and was elected as a Guild Rep. Ann Birch stood down as Guild Rep and was elected as Minutes secretary. The remaining officers stood and were re-elected. An update was given on the progress the branch committee had made in 2014 on ideas that were discussed at the 2014 AGM:
1) Branch Practices,
2) Training and development,
A gift of a gooseberry bush was presented and thankfully received by Linda Maycroft for her research into the lives of the bell ringers who died in service during the First World War and for organising the day’s events.
A waiting game by candle light
The candle lit annual dinner followed immediately after the AGM when those members staying were joined by some non-ringing family members.
The room was decorated with posters that branch members in 1915 would have frequently seen encouraging young men to sign-up and women to let their men go. Ten candles were lit, one for each decade that had passed since Frederick lost his life. The candle holders were a little unusual as they were empty wine bottles collected by a couple of members who obviously enjoy red wine maybe a little too much and were personalised with a picture of poppies growing by water with the words ”Remembering Frederick Charles Andrews 14th March 1915”. The life story of Frederick Charles Andrews was shared.
The first challenge of the evening was to find your own seat by checking the place cards that were set around the tables formed into an inward facing square. The second challenge was to wait patiently for your meal to arrive while others tucked in. The winner of the “greatest patience” award was our own treasurer Sheila, she was so good the first time that she won it again when the desserts were served. However the meals were delicious and plentiful and were well worth the wait. Conversation flowed both across the table and amongst those sitting immediately next to each other. The room was filled with laughter as Brian waited and waited and waited for the custard to pour from the small white jug. The evening ended with requests for the Annual dinner to stay on the branch agenda in 2016.