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I don't know what first led me to join a committee. Maybe it was a drive to make things happen. Maybe I liked poking my nose into where the decisions are made. It could be that I didn't like how things were being done and wanted to make some changes. Or perhaps I just got drunk on power. Either that, or there was a position that no other mug – sorry, willing volunteer – could be persuaded to take on.

Sadly, ill health has seriously reduced the amount I'm able to do, and consequently I've now retired from all of my committee rôles. However, I remain a member of some of the organisations listed below and continue to enjoy attending their Annual General Meetings, Members' Meetings and other events when I'm able.

The following list is sorted in reverse chronological order by the date upon which I first joined the committee.

Keynsham Church Bell Ringers logoKeynsham Church Bell Ringers

I started regularly visiting the weekly bell ringing practices at St John the Baptist in Keynsham during the summer of 2005, and by early 2006 I had become a fully paid-up member. Back then we would generally have eight or more people at practices, however over the next year our numbers steadily declined, culminating in the departure of the Tower Captain at the AGM in April 2007. Things initially picked up a little under the new Tower Captain but soon dropped off again, and when I took over as Tower Captain at the AGM in October 2009 – also opting to take on the work of the Secretary, having found at Mangotsfield (see below) that having one fewer person in the chain would make certain things a lot easier – there was just me and two others (plus a regular visitor whom we effectively considered to be an "honorary member") and our practices had out of necessity been reduced to once a fortnight.

We four muddled on as best we could for the next year, welcoming more visitors to help out at our practices and bringing in ringers from many neighbouring towers for weddings, until October 2010 when – by sheer luck – we were joined by the new Rector's eldest son who had learned to ring at their previous church, and we gained two new learners from the Bath & Wells Diocesan Association's Recruitment Week. Things were looking up! Quickly returning to weekly practices, in early 2011 we gained three returning ringers and another new learner, and our numbers steadily increased.

I greatly enjoyed running my own tower and everything it entailed, and I turned my hand to whatever needed doing in terms of regular maintenance, even single-handedly giving the belfry a thorough and long-overdue cleaning. It was therefore terribly frustrating when my health caused me to have to slow down, and in October 2019 I relinquished the rôle of Secretary to a trusted friend in the tower who would soon prove to be of invaluable help to me. (While I did take on the Treasurer's mantle at the same time, this really didn't add anything to my workload as I had been effectively doing the outgoing Treasurer's job for them for a number of years.) The need for professional attention to some ongoing problems in the belfry led to us seeking quotes from bell-hangers – and then Covid-19 hit and everything stopped. During the lockdowns and continuing pause to ringing, I found myself suffering the attentions of the church without the balance of the enjoyment of ringing, and by coincidence during this time the consequences of a number of separate past failings by various church officials became painfully apparent. Had it not been for Covid-19, I'd have left the tower in October 2020 – but my innate sense of duty meant that I wasn't going anywhere until (a) the belfry problems had been rectified and (b) we had re-established regular ringing.

Fortunately, the Covid-19 situation had improved sufficiently by the summer of 2021 to allow us to get the bell-hangers in and for regular ringing to resume, initially with restrictions but eventually pretty much back to normal. I'd already signalled my intention to retire from ringing so it didn't come as a surprise at the AGM in October, although thanks to a delay caused by yet another church official the bell-hangers' work wasn't complete until early November. I left the tower soon thereafter, following one final ring on the refurbished bells.

WC&P Railway Group logoWC&P Railway Group

The latest addition to the list of groups of which I'm a founding member (following Mangotsfield ICT Centre, Mangotsfield Youth Project and the Friends of Ram Hill Colliery – see below), this one being constituted at its inaugural meeting on 30th November 2006 to raise awareness of the fascinating Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway that once ran along the north Somerset coast.

It was almost by accident that I ended up taking over sales, having initially agreed to do it temporarily to cover a holiday, only for that holiday then to be cancelled due to a hospitalisation! Nevertheless, I was in my element tracking orders and making frequent visits to the Post Office, so I was happy to make it a permanent arrangement; and a few months later on 15th January 2010 I received a title befitting my rôle, which by this time had expanded to include booking our attendance at various model railway exhibitions, flower shows and village festivals each year. Despite the early starts and long days associated with these events, I greatly enjoyed what I was doing, but it proved to be too much for me so I relinquished the "Exhibitions" side of things on 31st October 2012.

While my focus was now on sales, I had nonetheless continued to help out at many of the events we attended, not least as they were often lucrative opportunities for sales in addition to the obvious publicity and exposure. Unfortunately, my failing health eventually got the better of me, and I stepped down from the committee altogether at the AGM on 12 July 2019. I remain an enthusiastic member, however, and I still enjoy proof-reading the quarterly newsletter and distributing it to members not on email.

Find out more about the WC&P Railway Group, and about the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway itself on the Group's sister site.

Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association logoGloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers

I became a member of the Bristol Rural Branch of the Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association of Church Bell Ringers at the Association AGM on 25th April 1998. After about six years' membership I started looking for a way onto the Branch Management Committee, and shortly before their AGM on 25th November 2006 I thought I'd finally found one. The Branch's Management Committee Representative (who sits on the Association Management Committee and acts as the liaison between the Branch and the Association) was standing down at the AGM, and as there were no other nominees I was elected as his replacement.

Twelve years is a long time. It became clear early on that some of my fellow Branch committee members didn't consider me a "proper" Branch Officer because my job was to sit on the Association committee – and by the end, it seemed like that idea had become more widely accepted. The final straw for me in this regard was the Branch's failure to offer a grant when one of the towers within the Branch embarked upon a major refurbishment of their bells. While the process for applying for grant funding from the Association was well documented, there was no such clarity on how to access Branch funds – and because the tower didn't ask, the Branch didn't offer anything. I tried to grease the wheels, first by asking if the tower wanted to ask the Branch for a grant (which of course they did – they still had a shortfall to make up) and then by raising it with the Branch committee, only to be told that the tower "needed to ask a Branch Officer" (of which, again, I was one) to apply. Another argument from the committee was that the Branch needed to save its money in case a tower needed emergency funding – despite the fact that the Association's rules were clear that Branch funds should be paid to towers undertaking refurbishment projects, and not kept for a rainy day.

The Association committee, meanwhile, had for years been demonstrating its inability to take any steps into the modern age of communications, most recently going as far as to forbid the Branches (which operated mostly autonomously) from using any social media because of GDPR – a subject I had researched thoroughly on behalf of a number of other organisations, and which I therefore knew was being grossly misunderstood by the Association Officers. Eventually, I became so disillusioned by both the Branch and the Association committees that I decided the time was right for me to step down, which I did at the AGM on 24th November 2018.

Bath & Wells Diocesan Association crestBath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers – Bath Branch

In early 2006 I became a member of the Bath Branch of the Bath & Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers, attached to Keynsham. Like any member who takes an active interest in the administration of their Branch I duly attended the Branch AGM on 14th October 2006, whereupon I was persuaded into the position of Branch Education Officer. Against my better judgement (and protestations) this may have been, but I tried to fulfill the rôle as best I could – not exactly difficult when all I had to do was distribute a couple of bits of paperwork each year...

Nevertheless, as I lived outside of Bath itself (the natural administrative centre of the Branch) I felt somewhat "out of the loop", so two years later at the Branch AGM on 18th October 2008 I handed over the task to the outgoing Branch Secretary. Following that meeting, the entire Branch Committee comprised two married couples, all of whom lived and rang regularly in the centre of Bath. Indeed, three of them were on the Committee before the meeting as well, so it was really little wonder I'd felt excluded.

Mangotsfield Village Festival logoMangotsfield Village Festival

This annual event was started by Mangotsfield Church of England Primary School, the first Festival being held in June 1992 on Mangotsfield Common (between Northcote Road and Windsor Place). However, when the school moved to a new site in neighbouring Emerson's Green in January 2000, a separate committee was set up to manage the Festival instead. I joined them at their AGM on 21st September 2005, and nine months of hard work later saw the very successful 14th Annual Mangotsfield Village Festival on 10th June 2006, held for the first time at Cleve Rugby Football Club.

At the next AGM on 4th October 2006 I took over the rôle of Stalls Co-ordinator, which saw me liaising with local schools, organisations and fundraisers to ensure their stall bookings went without a hitch, and three years later at the AGM on 30th September 2009 I also took on the newly-created rôle of Quartermaster to keep track of where all our property was kept. After two more very successful Festivals in 2010 and 2011 I decided to step down from the committee, but their work continues as the Mangotsfield Village Festival seems to get bigger every year!

Friends of Ram Hill Colliery logoFriends of Ram Hill Colliery

A public meeting to discuss the formation of a Friends group for the remains of Ram Hill Colliery was held by South Gloucestershire Council on 26th July 2004, and it was at that meeting that I volunteered to join the new Executive Committee. A series of monthly work days quickly saw the site cleared of twenty years' worth of unwanted vegetation, and on 19th December 2005 it was listed on what is now the National Heritage List for England as Scheduled Monument No.1021386. I was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee at the AGM on 5th December 2005, but swapped the rôle for that of Treasurer at the following AGM on 29th March 2007 when the Friends underwent an almost complete change of management.

A year later, at the AGM held on 26th March 2008 I stepped down from the Executive Committee, but I continued to be a member of the Friends and to take an interest in progress on the colliery site. Having improved access and removed two modern spoil heaps, an interpretation board was installed and a programme of repair and preservation of the standing archaeology was started, alongside the ongoing management of the trees, grass and wildflowers surrounding it. I then found myself rejoining the Executive Committee at the AGM on 23rd June 2016, taking on the rôle of Membership Secretary, and two months later being elected Chairman for the second time at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 31st August 2016.

My failing health, along with a certain amount of frustration at the Friends' limited capacity for much more than general maintenance of the site, led me to step down from the Executive Committee once more at the AGM on 19th June 2019; however, I continued to manage the membership list and to distribute the Friends' Newsletter for another two years until my health forced me to reduce my workload even more. As before, I remain an interested member, and I look forward to the day when more of the site might be excavated and opened up to the public.

Mangotsfield Youth Project logoMangotsfield Youth Project

In April 2004 I responded to a South Gloucestershire Council advert asking for people interested in being part of a management committee to set up a youth facility in Mangotsfield. We held our first meeting on 20th May 2004 and began to make some real headway with the young people of the village, despite a lack of suitable premises for a Youth Club and a nationwide shortage of qualified Youth Workers. However, we eventually realised that we weren't going to achieve the results we wanted to on our own, so at our third AGM on 18th September 2007 we made the decision to amalgamate with Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre in nearby Downend.

Mangotsfield Youth Project was officially dissolved at a Special General Meeting on 16th October 2007.

At the end of March 2013, Badminton Road Methodist Youth Centre also closed when its local authority funding ceased. (Source: Downend Voice, 30th June 2013)

St James Bell Ringers logoSt James Bell Ringers, Mangotsfield

If you've read my Bell Ringing pages you'll already know that I was elected Tower Secretary of St James Bell Ringers, Mangotsfield, at their AGM on 26th September 2001. By that time I had been a regular member of the band for eight and a half years, and this membership continued for a further two and a half years until another AGM on 31st March 2004 when I resigned from the post.

Mangotsfield ICT Centre

A questionnaire was sent out around the community by South Gloucestershire Council early in 2001, eliciting opinions on a proposed community ICT facility and Internet Café in Mangotsfield. I expressed an interest in helping to set up the project, and we held our first meeting on 17th July 2001. Progress over the next year was good with various open days and a successful series of courses being run, and feedback from the community was encouraging. However, the project unfortunately fell by the wayside over the summer of 2002, seemingly as a result of staff reorganisation within the Council.

Avon Light Opera Club (ALOC)

I joined ALOC in October 2000 for their annual Winter Concert, A Musical Extravaganza, which we performed on three nights in February 2001 at St Peter's Hall in Henleaze, Bristol. They must have thought I was good because I opened the show with a short solo! At the AGM on 19th March 2001 I was elected one of two Club Representatives, ahead of the start of rehearsals for the annual Autumn Show in October 2001. We were due to stage Orpheus in the Underworld, a comic operetta in three acts (composed by Jacques Offenbach; adapted for amateur performance by Phil Park and Ronald Hanmer), but due to falling membership numbers the Club was sadly dissolved just five months later at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 13th August 2001.