Wednesday 29th March 2017
For most of the country 20th November probably doesn't mean much, but here in Suffolk the day has been gaining some prominence. The reason is primarily due to BBC Radio Suffolk and in particular their 'star' presenter Mark Murphy who in 2006 launched a campaign to get St Edmund - whose day is 20th November - reinstated as England's patron saint, ousting the under-celebrated St George.
Ultimately that campaign failed and it's hard to see it being deemed important enough to bother our busy politicians in the foreseeable future. However, this local lad has now been made patron saint of Suffolk thanks to the campaign. St Edmund that is, not Mark Murphy.
Two years ago, the Suffolk Guild of Ringers were asked if we could do some special ringing on the day. A plan was hatched to ring a peal simultaneously in each of our four districts on the morning of St Edmund's Day. Not all the peals were scored but such was the success of the project and the publicity we received, we decided to do it again last year. With four peals out of four scored there was no doubt in my mind that we would try again this year, especially with the big day falling on a Saturday.
In theory therefore it should've been easier to organise than the mid-week attempts I had arranged in previous years, but ringers being ringers, Saturday was a busy day for many with our Guild social and them pesky Cumbersomes having their peal weekend, but come the day, everything was in place. There were six peals organised, one of them a Cumberlands attempt. There was - and still is - a feature on Radio Suffolk's website and I had been interviewed on Mark's show the week before.
On the day, Philip Gorrod (start at 29minutes) our Chairman was interviewed by Mark, as were Jed Flatters and Abby Antrobus (start at 1hr 49mins.) and the six peals were underway. In the end four were successful at Edwardstone, Fressingfield, Saxmundham and Sproughton, whilst they got a quarter at Southwold in the aftermath of the lost peal there.
Score or lose however, the Guild came out well again, with much publicity given to us and our art and whilst I shall no longer be Guild Ringing Master (or 'Ring Master' as Mark calls me, perhaps aptly in some people's eyes) come 20th November 2011, I hope we are able to continue this tradition.
Thank you to everyone who rang, who allowed their bells to be used and to those who conducted peals and quarters - it was all very, very much appreciated.