35th Annual Dinner - February 2002

Saturday 2nd February saw 54 members, friends and guests gather at The Thistle Hotel in Exeter for the 35th annual dinner of the Exeter Colleges Guild.  Once again, the dinner was made into a weekend event with new faces meeting some older faces in the Imperial on Friday night.  One pint lead to two pints which lead to three pints... need I say more?  This was all ended very abruptly when one of the bouncers overhead one of the gathered company saying to "chill out".  When the reply came "I am chilled" we made a very swift retreat and everyone returned to their respective accommodation!

Saturday morning dawned early for some, and a little later for others.  The minibus did a tour of Exeter collecting its passengers from all over the city before making its way to Tiverton.  Fortunately we arrived early enough for a visit to the bakers for cakes which was on the way from where the minibus was parked to the first tower - St Paul's.  The ringing here was over all too soon on the fine light 6, which then meant walking past the bakers again for yet more cakes!  On to the 8 at St Peter's where we were joined by the "late starters" and we even managed to bring round a touch of 8-spliced.  Lunch in the pub at Tiverton before moving on to Cullompton and then the "interesting" 8 at Bradninch brought the ringing day to a close.  Back to Exeter for a whistle stop tour to leave everyone where we found them, allowing just enough time to return home dress ourselves up (some more than others!) and off to the dinner.

The dinner itself was the usual combination of food, beer, wine and socialising.  The seven tables were seated around the dance floor with the now usual ECG format of not having a top table.  The various speakers are spread around the room so that everyone feels a part of the atmosphere.  Once the eating was over, the formalities could continue with first the Secretary, Malcolm Evans, to welcome the guests.  Malcolm spoke of those that were unable to attend for various reasons, and welcomed our guest speaker Steve Coleman.  Next it was time for three of the current students to show off what they had learnt in our handbell sessions which have been running for just about 10 weeks now.  Malcolm Evans 1-2, David Maynard 3-4 and Alison Halford 5-6 successfully brought round a plain course of Plain Bob Minor - a huge achievement under such pressured conditions.  We look forward to some more progress and spliced surprise major next year!

Steve Coleman was next to take the floor.  Steve had been doing his homework.  He had asked Malcolm for some information on the ECG.  How about the most recent Newsletter?  Have we ever had a newsletter?  OK, so how about the most recent report?  Well, needless to say Steve ended up on the website.  Fortunately he was able to pick up a few snippets of information and also suggested some improvements.  How about a "cupid's corner"?  And he even had his own bellringers' chat-up lines .written... although I am not sure that anyone would dare try them!  What about changing the rules?  Second thoughts, the rules are good just the way they are - non existent.  Finally Steve proposed the toast and we all drank to the health of the ECG.

Now it was the turn of the experts(?).  Not to be shown up by the current undergrads we decided on a plain course of Grandsire Caters which luckily enough ended in rounds after quite a well struck course:  David Macey 1-2, Matthew Hilling 3-4, John Longridge 5-6, David Atkins 7-8 and Ian Campbell 9-10.  The much awaited Master's speech was next on the agenda.  Alison spoke of the events of the past year - the joint outing with the University of Bristol ringers', the BBQ on the beach, the Freshers Fair (when quite a few new members signed up) and the change of practice night to a Wednesday to enable more people to attend.  The sweepstake was won by Stephen Chambers, but I don't think his winnings quite stretched to a round of drinks!  With the daffodil toast proposed by Phil Nichols and all past members eating their daffodil head the formalities were over, and the barn dance could begin.  This year must have been different somehow as even our President John Longridge and Past Master Michael Esbester were seen on the dance floor.  Everyone present must have taken part, but all too soon it was over, and people made their way to their beds.

Sunday was normal ringing in the morning - a little too early for some - followed by coffee, and more coffee for sobering up.  Lunch at the Malthouse on Haven Banks was well attended, although most people were still half asleep.  Then to the Cathedral for the traditional ringing to round off an excellent weekend.


Anyway, they do say that one picture says a thousand words, and I have plenty of photos!  Thanks to our expert camera-men and camera-woman I have about 150 photos from the whole weekend!  Here are a selection of the best.  Thank you Sarah, Andrew, Ian & Garry for providing the photos.

Click on photo to enlarge.  There are so many photos I have split them onto two pages.  Page two is here.

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