The University of Sheffield
Sheffield Universities' Guild of Change Ringers (SUGCR)
Sheffield Hallam University

President's Blog

In this section, we bring you occasional updates from the President covering all manner of SUGCR-related topics from forthcoming events to personal comment.


August 2013

The Circle of (Student) Life

This is my second summer as President of SUGCR, and my seventeenth since moving to Sheffield. Since my transition from student to 'local' I have become used to the gentle relaxing sigh the city makes as students return home, schools break up and we finally get a little sunshine. The SUGCR summer term is always quiet with exams, and students winding down for summer, however we held a number of practices up until the end of term, and arranged good bands for three weddings.

The summer for SUGCR always signifies a few sad goodbyes. This year Emily Mellor and Helen Scarf bid us farewell as they graduated from Sheffield and started on their professional lives. Emily is moving to London, after gaining a position as Paediatric Staff Nurse at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Helen stays slightly closer to us working as a Foundation Year One Doctor at Barnsley Hospital. Emily and Helen have worked extremely hard during the time as SUGCR officers, organising a number of successful events, annual Dinner weekends and overseeing the rededication of St Maries in 2012. I would like to thank them, on behalf of the guild members, for all of their efforts. On a personal note I would like to say thank you for always tackling the tasks with enthusiasm and dedication.

As Emily and Helen move on, the committee has been left in safe hands. Tom Lovering, Emily Waters, Emma Daniel and Tom Franklin have been working hard in the background since their election in April. We have got the Dinner weekend booked for 2014, we have started taking steps to redesign the SUGCR website to help improve our communication, and we have a summer tour in August to Skegness. Emma and Emily have fully integrated with the local ringing community and are regularly seen at Walkley, Ranmoor and Cathedral practices. They are both keen to ring their first Peal soon, so watch this space!

As exam result time approaches I hope a few lucky bellringing students will get the grades needed to gain a place at one of the fantastic Universities we have in our wonderful city. And that they may join our happy guild of ringers, taking SUGCR forward for the years to come.

I will check back in with you during the Autumn term, until then I hope to see you in Skegness, and also wish you a very happy and sunshine filled summer.


22 March 2013

Celebrations & Back to Business

Friday February 22nd 2013 saw the start of the 54th Annual Dinner weekend. In typical bell ringer fashion nothing was straight forward. Our planned ring at St Marie's on Friday evening had to be cancelled due to an unexpected 'quiet event' at the Cathedral. Simon Reading came to our rescue offering the 12-bells of the Anglican Cathedral. Two days before we were due to visit, builders erected a substantial fence around the Cathedral, entirely blocking the normal entrance. Several emails and texts later, ringers had clear instructions on how to locate a secret side door, and with Emily and myself doing sweeps of the Cathedral grounds with our torches we had around 25 ringers for the evening. To complete the evening's events we had a lock-out when we attempted to go and ring up the bells at St Marie's ahead of the Saturday wedding. But soon everyone was congregated in The Museum for a few pints and all was right with the world.

Saturday saw an 11am start at Ecclesfield. Another great turn out of around 20 people. For most it was the first chance to ring there since the bells were augmented from an 8-bell to a fantastic 10-bell tower in 2011. Lunch was at The Ranmoor Inn - where the landlady repeatedly apologised for only having a tiny kitchen but within a couple of hours, everyone was fed and watered (beer'd), and ready to ring again. We split, allowing 8 to ring for the wedding at St Marie's, and the remaining ringers stayed at St John's Ranmoor.

We had 71 guests at the formal Dinner, held this year at the Hilton Hotel. I wonder how many noticed that the balloons were chosen to match our home tower Sally colours. Following the dinner Fr. Chris gave an account of the refurbishment project at St Marie's and Emily detailed the comings and goings of the Guild. A special mention went to Ross Finbow, who this year broke his unbroken dinner attendance record, leaving Chris Bennett the chance to pick up the honour in three years' time. Two presentations were made during the evening - To Fr. Chris - a framed copy of the beautiful drawing by our fresher, Emma Daniel, of Sheffield City Centre and St Marie's to commemorate the rededication. Then to Sue Burchell - an engraved Tankard thanking Sue for her 5 year role as president which she handed over in 2012. Finally there was Tom, who's professionally prepared speech had to be heard to be... appreciated. A Ceilidh, some drinking, some chatting, and a raffle involving a now traditional gnome followed. A good night had by all.

The 54th Dinner weekend took place during an unsettled period for the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI had recently resigned, and so we were waiting on the start of the conclave which would see the election of the new pope. We didn't have to wait long. Pope Francis was elected on Wednesday March 13th. Due to the enthusiasm and commitment of students, alumni, and fellow Sheffield ringers we had six ringers at 13.00 and 14 ringers at 18.00 services the following day - less than 24 hours' notice. We also rang for the 10.30 Mass on Sunday 17th which saw us with another 13 ringers. We rang a wide range of methods and had enough to ring Yorkshire on two occasions. We received thank yous from the office of St Marie's, and also Fr. Chris. The bells were very much appreciated.

In coming weeks we have some Easter ringing, an AGM, next year's Dinner to think about, and most excitingly a summer tour in plan to Skegness. Hope to see you all soon.


11 March 2013

SUGCR 'Have Your Say' 2013 - The Results!

Thank you to everyone who participated. These results and comments will be discussed at our AGM in April to help us plan the 2013-2014 year.

Did you join in Dinner Weekend ringing? 41% said yes.
We had around 25 ringers for each of the towers, with the Saturday afternoon ringing split between Ranmoor and St Marie's for the wedding. This was a great response and we'll definitely continue this in future years.

Which Dinner venue has been your favourite? Hilton (2%), Holiday Inn (15%), Whirlow Brook Hall (37%), Kenwood Hall (26%), Cutlers Hall (20%).
Whirlow and Kenwood will definitely be considered for 2014. The Holiday Inn and Cutlers Hall both required larger minimum numbers than we can guarantee. Other suggestions which we will explore included Tapton Masonic Hall, and the Beauchief Hotel.
Other comments included; removing the soup course, adding a cheese & biscuits course, and not having music during the meal (admittedly we had asked for Jazz, but that translated as Celine Dion this year - apologies). The inclusive 'top table' worked well at the Hilton (rather than the rectangular style). We need a better selection of real ale - preferably supplied by Claire's Brewery. Consider having a 6.30 for 7pm start for the Dinner to allow more time. Finally a suggestion to bring the date forward to earlier in February to avoid half term weeks.

Would you prefer city centre hotels only? 82% said no.
This allows us to consider other venues, while keeping in mind suitable and reasonably priced accommodation, as well as ease of travel. We recognised a number of guests located a Travel Lodge this year which was considerably less expensive than the venue hotel. We will look to share information like this in future years.

Would you like to bring back the Guest Speaker? 80% of people said yes.
However, this was almost always with a caveat that they should be witty, relevant, and didn't speak for very long. A good compromise was a suggestion that we invite a member of the alumni to speak next year. Volunteers or suggestions welcome please. We had a suggestion to combine the Chair and Ringing Master speeches which can overlap and would save time. We did have two people comment how much they enjoyed Tom's speech. You'll be pleased to know that he will hopefully be back in 2014 for his third after dinner speech.

Your preferred after-dinner entertainment? Ceilidh (81%), Jazz/Blues (8%), Drinks only (8%), and a DJ (3%).
By far the winner is Ceilidh and we won't mess with a winning formula. For the one person who added 'pole dancing' - it was unclear whether you were offering to perform... in any case 'thanks but no thanks'!

What methods of communication do you use? (In number of votes): Emails (32), Website (14), Facebook (16), Twitter (2), Newsletter (25).
Most surprising is that more people rely on our Facebook group than our own website. I was also surprised that there weren't more Twits. (Although Twitter may prove a good way to attract new people). It's great to know so many people still read the newsletter. In the next year we hope to revamp the website, whilst continuing to make use of these additional tools. Also a suggestion to use Campanophile for free adverts/communications - something to pick up in the next year.

Would you be interested to join in events throughout the year? 53% said yes.
A number of suggested activities - a ringing tour to Mosely (recently augmented from the original St Marie's bells), re-establishing a quarter peal/peal weekend, Brewery Tour, Day at the Races (with Hats!), Camping trips with ringing (we have an SUGCR tent), 'Pop Tarts' night out. The sooner we advertise dates for events the more chance people have of being able to participate

What kind of member are you? No longer a ringer (20%), Enjoy BOTH quarters/peals and social ringing (32%), Social ringing (no quarters/peals) (38%), and Serious quarters/peals (10%).
Everyone is welcome obviously! It's good to know we have a number of people interested in ringing quarters and peals - I would like to see the Guild pick up a quarter and peal weekend later this year.

And Finally...
To illustrate the point that it's impossible to keep everyone happy - entirely unprompted - we had two requests to bring back hand bells, and one request to keep them away. Join us for the 2014 Dinner to find out if we allow them back next year!


September 2012

SUGCR Homecoming! Lets get ringing!

Last week Tom (SUGCR Ringing Master) and myself were invited by Father Chris to visit St Marie's in preparation for the reopening later this year. We were amazed.

The amount of work undertaken is immense. Concrete, paint and wooden panels have been painstakingly removed, “repairs” which seemed a good idea in the 1970's have been undone, and huge efforts have been made to return the cathedral to it's original beauty. Photographs have been used to restore artwork, and scripting above the archways, and new furniture is being designed and built in Poland. Not immune from modern technology, new lighting and under floor heating will improve the experience of the St Marie's community.

So the question that everyone is asking - when do we get to return home? For Monday practices - the current Guild are hoping to return within the next few weeks, as soon as the bells have been safety checked, and there is a safe path through the cathedral to the tower door, we are good to go. Watch this space for announcements. However we need your help for the following special events:

Year of Faith Celebrations

In October 2011 Pope Benedict XVI announced a Year of Faith inviting Catholics to rediscover the gift of faith and to seek new ways of proclaiming it. October 11th marks the start of this special year for the Cathedral and we are invited to help get things off to a great start.

  • Thursday October 11th @ 18.00 (60 minutes approx after service)
  • Sunday October 14th @ 17.30 (normal service ringing)

Re-Dedication Celebrations

This is THE biggest event in the life of the cathedral since its original opening. This has been a truly amazing transformation, and we should add the sound of the bells to this incredible celebration.

  • Friday November 23rd @ 10.30 (30 minutes before service ringing)
  • Friday November 23rd @ 13.00 approx (60 minutes after service ringing)
  • Saturday November 24th @ 13.00 - 17.00 (Pure Ringing - Make some noise!*)
  • Sunday November 25th @ 17.30 (normal service ringing)

Please email to volunteer your services for the above events.

* Saturday November 24th will be "our" afternoon - to make as much noise as we can - remind the city we are here. It would be great to have people volunteer to arrange quarter peals. Maybe even a quarter per era? If there is interest we will reserve an hour for open ringing, so people can pop in too. Again please email the above address if you have a quarter peal band - or would like to join one - we will try and match-make :)

Thank you for reading, we will send further updates as we have them.


July 2012

Welcome to the first 'President's Blog' update.

I wanted to find a way of sharing what's happening in the world of SUGCR throughout the year, and hope you'll find these updates interesting. We have also created an 'Alumni News' page. This is a great place to share a paragraph about an event you have attended or organised, a photograph from a reunion, or news of a special Guild quarter or peal.

The main purpose of this note is to share two important dates with you.

Saturday February 23rd 2013. This is confirmed as the date of the 54th SUGCR Dinner. We had hoped to return to Whirlowbrook after the success of last year's dinner, however the venue will be changing hands at the end of 2012. In order to secure a booking now, we reviewed all available venues in Sheffield. Emily and I drew up a short list, and viewed three venues. Our final choice was the Hilton Hotel. The space we have in the function room for our numbers is ideal, and we have agreed a four course meal from their extended menu (previous we had chosen from the student ball menu). Guests will receive a welcome drink, have exclusive use of the bar and be offered preferential rates for hotel rooms. We hope you will add the date to your diaries! More details will follow.

Friday November 16th and Saturday November 17th 2012. This is the 'pencilled-in' date for the official reopen of St Maries Cathedral. Sheffield ringers were able to ring the bells of St Maries, to welcome the Olympic torch last month and reported back that building work is still very much in progress. To mark the reopen we would like ring for the official service on Friday 16th. In addition we have also agreed with St Maries that we will have some open ringing, and some quarter peal sessions on Saturday 17th. We would love to have as many alumni as possible help us celebrate, and perhaps join us for food and drinks afterwards. Again we will forward more details as they are confirmed with the Cathedral.

SUGCR student life continues to be fairly quiet, with a lack of a permanent home until Autumn and various members being on placements away from Sheffield, this has lead to fragmented 2012 so far. We are optimistic about the new term and hopeful of gaining some new members from the September arrivals. We have arranged an advert in the Ringing World for A Level week, and also set up a Twitter account. We will use Twitter and Facebook to communicate news and events, but also help drive traffic to our main website where people can find more information. Links for Twitter and Facebook can be found on our home page.

Thank you for taking the time to read this first update. Comments, questions and thoughts are most welcome!