The 25th Ridgman Trophy, 16th June 2012

Back to the countryside for the 25th Ridgman Trophy 10-bell striking competition. This was held on Sat 16th June 2012 at All Saints’, Kempston (10, 17-2-4). Curiously, this church doesn’t appear to be anywhere near Kempston. However, I can report that a large number of other churches are indeed located in Kempston, and we checked out most of them before winning through to our destination.

All Saints’ was finally discovered at the end of a No Through Road, hidden among tall trees on the banks of the River Great Ouse. Next to the church is a triangular square (as it were) containing gingerbread cottages, the church hall and the village school. In front of the school sat a 6’ tall plaster swan decorated with shiny mosaic pieces. At the time, this seemed quite normal.

The Bedfordshire ringers – apart from having an invisible church - were Organised with a capital O. The car park had marshals, and the catering in the comfortable church hall was continuous from beginning to end of the day. The consequent reluctance to go over to the churchyard meant that most people didn’t even notice when the tenor clapper fell out towards the end of the EDA’s practice piece.

Your correspondent was sitting on a bench outside the W end of the church at this time. (Obviously, this means that I was not ringing for the EDA.) It was not really as dramatic as one might think, just a rather loud thud. My band took stock of the situation and did the only thing possible - went for lunch.

Someone put the clapper back in and the competition continued. The Peterborough band, who had rung first, decided that the loosening clapper had compromised their ringing, and withdrew. I think they were probably right. Certainly the EDA’s test piece was a whole lot better than their practice. More on this later.

Back in the church hall, bands who had already rung (one hopes) consumed beer, which was sold on the curious principle of one free pint of beer for every £3 raffle ticket bought (prize: one very small bag of chocolates). I suspect this was an attempt to get around the licensing laws. Clearly, the authorities would have been very concerned about the sale of alcohol at such a major sporting event, attended by large numbers of passionate supporters of 8 rival teams. Probably the only reason that riot police were not in attendance was that they couldn’t find the church either.

The Organisers had Organised a mini-ring housed in the church’s south porch. This was a good idea in principle, but suffered from only ever having three ringers at any one time. That is, except when a competent band rolled up and casually rang Stedman Triples, while the rest of us gnashed our teeth in jealousy. At the end of the afternoon, several of us were still desperately trying to get to grips with the little blighters, even as the ring was being dismantled by its owner, which did not improve its handling characteristics.

On to the judging, by Jennie and Philip Earis. Some of you may know that the EDA’s traditional aim is not to come last. This year there had been a change of band selector, and of selection criteria, the efficacy of which may be judged from the results:

Test piece: half-course of Yorkshire Royal

Score

Peal speed

Band

88%

3h06

Bedfordshire

85%

3h08

Ely

76%

3h15

Norwich

65%

3h05

Essex

64%

3h10

Suffolk

63%

3h15

Cambridge University

51%

3h10

Lincoln

Here are the judges’ comments on the EDA’s ringing:

A very good start to the test piece – confident and purposeful. The four back bells created a very good framework throughout. However, leads 4 and 5 fell off in quality. A fault was that the back bells were slow at the front, with the little bells piling up on top of them. In almost every band’s ringing, the little bells were slow at handstroke.

The EDA band were:

1. Christine Seaman, 2. Alison Brooke, 3. Hannah Campbell, 4. Alan Winter, 5. Samantha Gorman, 6. Phillip Wilding, 7. Richard C Smith, 8. Barry Johnson, 9. Peter Rogers, 10. Patrick Brooke (C)

And the Cambridge University Guild won the bag of chocolates. To be precise, they were given the chocolates - on the grounds that they had drunk most of the beer, so would doubtless have won the raffle, had it actually been drawn. I worry about the maths of this, as well as its legality.

Another report, with photos of all the bands, is available on the website for the Ridgman Trophy Competition here.

The 26th Ridgman Trophy competition, on Sat 15th June 2013, will be half a course of Cambridge Royal. It will be on the back ten of what I believe is called the leaning tower of Surfleet (12, 12-0-9).

Barbara Le Gallez