2004 Dinner

The 116th Henry Johnson Commemoration Dinner ~ Saturday 28 February 2004
The Banqueting Suite, Birmingham Council House

This year’s dinner held on Saturday 28th February was Sarah Vernon’s first as Dinner Secretary. She made excellent arrangements by way of seating, food and alcoholic refreshment. The Dinner was again held at The Banqueting Suite at the Birmingham Council House. The venue is unsurpassable by way of proportions and grandeur. The bar area is adjacent to the dining area which is roomy and comfortable.

The chairman Simon Linford, was accompanied by his fiancée Eleanor Kippin. Simon is Senior Steward of the College Youths and a former Cannock ringer. He managed, without difficulty to keep the proceedings running smoothly and everyone in order.

John Sentamu the new Bishop of Birmingham and his wife Margaret attended for the first time. The Bishop thought of bringing his bongo drums to mark his first appearance but had second thoughts at the last minute, thinking that bellringers might prefer handbells instead!

Visiting clergy included The Dean of Birmingham Cathedral, The Very Rev Gordon Mursell, Father Robert Warren, Rector of St Laurence Northfield and his wife. Ringing visitors were from York, London, Leicester and Towcester.

Following the proposal of H.M The Queen, those present stood in silence to the memory of John McDonald. The Church was proposed by David Baverstock. David is a member of the band at St Paul’s Cathedral. He is studying theology at King’s College London and is a part time verger at St George in the East, Stepney. He knew the Bishop through his work at Stepney.

The new Bishop, John Sentamu was Suffragan Bishop of Stepney before coming to Birmingham. He was a lawyer prior to entering the church and trained for the Ministry at Queen’s College, Birmingham. Following his speech, two leads of Littleport Little Surprise 16 was rung faultlessly on handbells by David and Rod Pipe, Richard Grimmett, Michael Wilby, David Hull, Frances Dodds, Paul Carless and Tony Daw.

Jonathan Healy in proposing the Guests and Visitors, said that his first ringers dinner was at Nottingham University and he went with Paul Bibilo. He said he was not told to take a suit. You can imagine what happened when he had to borrow a jacket and trousers because there are not too many people as tall as Jonathan! Apparently this did not spoil the evening. He then went on to welcome the Guests and Visitors.

Alison Edmonds responded to Jonathan, saying how welcoming Birmingham ringers were when she first came to Birmingham. She then proposed the prosperity of the St Martin’s Guild. Alison who is from York, stole our then Ringing Master David Hull from Birmingham when they were married. David moved to York. Birmingham ringers have now forgiven her!

Cecilia Pipe in replying to Alison, mentioned the achievements of The St Martin’s Guild in the12 Bell Competition, the Tewkesbury Shield Contest and the local Guild competitions. This is the first time that Alison and Cecilia have made speeches at a dinner. In spite of this, the content and deliveries of their speeches were excellent.

The Health of the Chairman was proposed by John Warboys. John mentioned that Simon Linford had got as far as Senior Steward of the College Youths before work took him to Jersey. He came back to Britain occasionally to keep in practice with challenging ringing. Now that he is back, he is now Senior Steward again and will be Master of the College Youths next year. John presented Simon with a ringing book entitled, Belfry Life in Birmingham. The Recollections of John Day.

Much socialising with old friends was done after the speeches. Thanks must go to Sarah Vernon who organised the dinner and the catering staff for the excellent meal and service.

The 2005 Dinner which will be the 250th year of the St Martin’s Guild, will be held at the Banqueting Suite at the Birmingham Council House on Sat 26th February 2005. Early booking is highly recommended as a sell out of tickets for this special dinner in such a wonderful setting is anticipated.