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Chairman's Chat March 2018

Updated: Jan 21

As my three-year term as Chairman nears its end I am proud of what South East Region ringers have achieved. Your ringing and musicianship continue to improve. I still remember the days when team solos at rallies were a mixture of the impressive and the “brave” but at this year’s January Birthday Rally every performing team played well and all were a pleasure to listen to.

In response to my chairman’s challenge you have brought the sound of our beautiful instrument to many new places, from pubs and nightclubs to penal reform centres, from farmyards to national and local TV and radio, concerts, composition festivals, heritage celebrations, a virtual orchestra and many more.

The latest Chairman’s Challenge Certificate goes to Fordingbridge Handbell Ringers, who had music specially written for them to play alongside the local Choral Society, Brass Band and organ. It is especially gratifying when other musicians are inspired to write for handbells, and even more so when it impresses those who have never heard bells before. I still have a few blank Chairman’s Challenge certificates. I would love to be able to give them to more teams whose bells have been heard in a new context, so get ringing and send me your reports before the March AGM.

Our Golden Anniversary year officially ends at the national AGM in April, so if your team hasn’t yet greeted one of the teddy bears contact your county rep or another bear guardian, and send your photos to Helen Secker.

Handbell ringers are reminded of the Get Creative week in March. Sponsored by the BBC and Voluntary Arts, this is another good opportunity to bring bells into the community, and could be a fitting way to round off the anniversary year. Our national chairman, Tim Willets, is hoping for 50 teams nationwide to get involved. See our website www.hrgbse.org.uk (News page) or ask your county rep or committee member for further details.

As one 50th anniversary celebration ends another begins. Cookham HR have been ringing for 50 years at events ranging from a camera club modelling session to a Buckingham Palace garden party, and have collected £1,000s for charity. They are holding a celebratory rally on April 21st. And well done to members Rita and Kay, who played from staff music for the first time at the Birthday rally after 20 and 42 years ringing from their team’s number system. It shows it is never too late to learn something new.

We have a full summer programme, with a rally in Brockenhurst as well as the Guildford Handbell Festival Service in June. July brings another of the ever-popular Sanderstead rallies and a repeat of last year’s successful evening Summer Soiree at Weybridge. Please note there is no rehearsal for this year’s Festival Service other the one on the day, so you will need to prepare the music within your teams and come performance ready.

If your team would like to host a rally, there are opportunities for October and November now that the Guildford service has moved to June. Don’t worry if it is your first time – we are happy to help.

Derek Wilkinson has decided to step down as Kent representative and committee member, and I would like to thank him for his gracious and dedicated service to the region over many years. Sue Quarendon will be taking over as Kent rep.

As our ringing develops, lets aim for the moon, then reach for the stars!

Gay Cooper

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