Ridgman Trophy Ten Bell Striking Competition 2008
14th June at Gressenhall
Report copied, with thanks, from the website of the Bedfordshire Association.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of the first Ridgman Trophy and it seems appropriate, for the benefit of those who don’t know much about the competition, to say something about its origins. The idea of a ten-bell striking competition among the Anglian associations was floated by Owen Davis and Ian Davies, among others, during the mid-1980s. An offer by Bill Ridgman’s family to give a trophy provided the necessary focus to bring the idea to fruition and the first competition was held at Wisbech in 1988. The trophy features the shields of the Ely Diocesan Association and Cambridge University Guild, reflecting the enormous contribution that Bill has made to both over the years.
Since its inception the competition has waxed and waned in popularity, but with ten bands competing last year the pool of potential participants has clearly grown. The venue rotates around the region and often involves much travelling because the geographic spread is now from Lincoln to Essex and Bedfordshire to Norfolk. The test piece is usually Stedman Caters, but has included Grandsire Caters and Cambridge Royal. Bill Ridgman remains a staunch supporter and is invariably in attendance to present the trophy.
This year the venue was Gressenhall in rural Norfolk, a brand new, light (8cwt) ring of ten that handle and sound well. Our Association is fortunate at the moment to be able to draw from a wide field of experienced ringers who recognise the importance of supporting this competition, so I retained four participants from last year, four from previous years, and introduced two ringers who had not taken part before. My main concern was to practice on a light ring of bells so we headed for Moulton and got used to rattling Cambridge Royal around at a 3 hour peal pace.
On arriving at Gressenhall the only disappointment was to learn that three of the teams had withdrawn from the competition during the previous few days. This reduced the field to just five teams but, having listened to a couple of them, there was clearly a high standard to match. Our practice piece reassured us that the bells were much easier to ring than Moulton and, even though we had a minor trip in the test piece, we produced some very good, rhythmic ringing.
Judges Paul Seaman and Mike Purday from Cambridge provided an ideal blend of constructive criticism and encouragement before moving on to announce the results. Despite a feeling from the churchyard pundits that it might be tight at the top, it transpired that Bedfordshire were clear winners and I was delighted to receive the trophy from Bill Ridgman for the second consecutive year. My thanks go to the rest of the band who were prepared to give up their time and expertise to represent the Association. Attending a special practice in Northamptonshire and undertaking a 200-mile round trip to Norfolk in order to ring for 20 minutes is no small undertaking, so this result was very welcome.
Next year we’re closer to home as the competition is to be hosted by the Hertford County Association. It will provide us with another opportunity to quake and tremble under the scrutiny of the competition judges, but it’s amazing how this focus brings out the best in a band. That’s what striking competitions, at all levels, are about and why they are worth supporting.
MARTIN J WHITELEY, Organiser