Tewkesbury Shield 2008

After the usual dithering and disinformation about the meeting place (thanks Charles!) the cars headed west on the M4. Andy and Rupert both seemed determined not to be overtaken by the other but Andy’s car appeared to be winning the race – until he mysteriously pulled over onto the hard shoulder. The mystery continued for all of 3.2 seconds until Clare’s ‘stomach upset’ had been advertised to the world via Facebook (again, thanks Charles!)

Fortunately, Clare was looking much less green by the time we reached Swindon for our practice session. Some very creditable Cambridge Royal was rung – actually far better than anything the band had managed before. Or, as it turned out, subsequently.

In addition to the ringing competition, Tewkesbury was hosting a food festival which filled the town with parked cars as far as the eye could see. We eventually managed to abandon the vehicles and walked what seemed like miles back to the Abbey for the draw. With every name out of the hat the UL was willing it to be us but it was to no avail. We were drawn last – a disastrous result! How could the UL possibly remain sober while seven other bands rang ahead of us? To make it worse, the UL support team of Rhiannon and Clara, both known for being “virtually teetotal” were already in the pub and had the first round in!

While some managed to distract their thirsty stomachs by visiting the food festival, others went for a nice long walk, taking in the obligatory old railway line and the new flood defences (only partially successful as the ground was still very waterlogged in parts). Eventually it was time to ring and, although it wasn’t disastrous, it’s fair to say the performance was not as good as at Swindon.

The one good thing about being drawn last is you don’t have to wait long for the results from the judges (this year Mike Mears and Ian Avery). The UL was fifth out of eight which seemed to accord with our own assessment – unlike the controversial result last time we entered! The Shield was presented to the winning team (Gloucester & Bristol) by the mayor of Tewkesbury, Councillor Ken Powell, whose father had once been a leading light in the Tewkesbury band.

The full results, as reported by David Bagley are below:

Winners: Gloucester and Bristol (27.5 Faults) Peal speed 3h22

This was a very confident piece of ringing with a good rhythm from the outset. This was in no small way due to the back four bells working well as a unit. Most faults were incurred when the little bells got amongst the bigger bells.

2nd Place: Oxford Diocesan Guild (28.5 Faults) Peal speed 3h28

This band had a slightly hesitant start for the first lead but soon developed into a good controlled piece of ringing. Although it tailed off a little towards the end, the ringing in the middle of this test piece was the best of the day.

3rd Place: Derby Diocesan Association (34.5 Faults) Peal speed 3h40

This band had a rather poor start to the test piece. It felt as though there was some good ringing trying to get out but some hesitancies took the edge off it a little. Some of the little bells didn’t appear particularly comfortable with the relatively slow speed of the ringing.

4th Place: The Oxford Society (38.5 Faults) Peal speed 3h42

This was the slowest ringing of the day. The rounds were rather poor at the beginning and even when in changes the ringing took some time to settle. The 4-5 leads in the middle of the test piece were good but wasn’t sustained and finished rather poorly. The faults were a little like buses – without for sometime and then several in quick succession. The little bells didn’t appear happy with the rather slow speed but the ringing kept its shape and the leading was even.

5th Place: University of London Society (46.5 Faults) Peal speed 3h30

This band had an untidy start and although it improved the ringing never got quite as good as it sometimes promised. Whilst never marking heavily, the ringing incurred faults throughout the test piece.

6th Place: Worcestershire and Districts Association (50.25 Faults) Peal speed 3h30

Rounds at the beginning were rather poor and the band didn’t appear to gain from remaining in rounds for so long. The leading was uneven which made the ringing at times seem rushed. As the test piece progressed it failed to hold its overall shape but did improve a little towards the end.

7th Place: Coventry Cathedral Society (87 Faults) Peal speed 3h14

This was the fastest ringing of the day. It seemed like a band on a mission. The ringing appeared very rushed and uneven and the leading was poor. The ringing did improve slightly towards the end.

8th Place: Hereford Diocesan Guild (121 Faults) Peal speed 3h23

This seemed like a nervous and inexperienced band and the test piece had a very uneven start. The method mistake took several rows to rectify but they came through this. There were signs of improvement and reverse rounds (sic) came up almost perfectly. However, a second method mistake seemed to affect the band quite badly and one could almost sense the relief from the band when rounds came up at the end.

By Peter Jasper and Nick Jones