MR SAM THOMAS PRESENTATION
SHEFFIELD DISTRICT SOCIETY AGM, Ranmoor.
Ringing World Vol 18, Iss 636, p326,
Saturday 5th May 1923 Full
SHEFFIELD DISTRICT SOCIETY .
A YEAR OF PROGRESS.
PRESENTATION TO MR. SAM THOMAS.
The annual meeting of the Sheffield District and Old East
Derbyshire Amalgamated Society was held at the Church of St.
John-the-Evangelist, Ranmoor, on Saturday, May 5th, and in spite of a
disappointingly wet afternoon, proved very successful. About 80 ringers
and friends (including quite a number of ladies) were present from
Sheffield (All Saints’, Pitsmoor; the Cathedral, St. Mary's, Handsworth
St. Marie’s R.C., and St. John’s, Ranmoor), Barnsley, Bolsovor
Bolsterstone, Chesterfield, Doncaster, Dore, Eckington, Ecclesfield,
North Wingfield, Norton, Rawmarsh, Rotherham (Parish Church and St.
Stephens), Whiston, Wortley, etc.
The peal of eight bells (tenor 15 cwt.) was kept going at
intervals from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., some very good striking being
accomplished in all the standard and several Surprise methods. It
not being possible for all the members to be in the tower at once, many
look the opportunity of making a closer acquaintance of this
exceedingly beautiful church, one of the finest examples of modern
architecture in the country, and of admiring its noble proportions and
decorations. The church, though modem, already has something of a
history, and its fine environment, situated in one of the most
delightful of the many beautiful suburbs of Sheffield, overlooking the
beauties of Endcliffe Vale and the hills beyond, coupled with the
almost unlimited facilities for change ringing and the warm welcome
always extended to visiting ringers, make it an ideal headquarters for
The first church built, from designs by Mr. E. M. Gibbs, and
consecrated by Archbishop Thomson in 1879, was, with the exception of
the tower and spire, totally destroyed
by fire on the first Sunday
morning of 1887. The fine organ and many beautiful memorials all
perished in the flames. Rebuilt from designs by the same architect at a
cost of about £14,000, it was reopened in 1888, and a tablet in the
porch records the fact. The present beautiful building is in a style
influenced by French Gothic. The spacious and lofty nave has 750
sittings, and presents a stately appearance. A notable feature is the
triforium, unusual in parish churches, and an apsidal chancel. As might
be expected in such a wealthy district, the church has been enriched by
many beautiful and costly gifts, including some very beautiful windows,
and a fine organ. The bells, though a musical peal, and one on which
there have been many notable performances, are hardly up to
exceedingly high standard of the rest of the church, and it is
of the local company that the church may one day possess a fine peal of
ten to harmonise with its other beauties.
A short musical service was held in the church, opening with the
Te Deum, and including some well known hymns, which were heartily rung
by those present. An interesting address was given by the Vicar (the
Rev. J. R. Lee Nicholls). himself an enthusiastic ringer, and an
incumbent who, in the Sheffield Diocese at any rate, holds the unique
distinction of being Ringing Master in his own tower, and who in spite
of many and urgent calls on his time, including often two sermons on a
Sunday, is seldom absent from his place in the belfry.
A tea was held in Parish Hall, followed by the annual business
meeting, at which the Vicar presided. The balance sheet (which showed a
small balance on the right side) was presented, and a short report, of
the previous year was given by Mr. Sam Thomas, who explained that he
had been asked to undertake the duty; the late secretary (the Rev. J.
F. Amies) having left the district, and the now secretary not having
yet been officially appointed. The report showed a gratifying year of
progress, with a membership reaching 300 and 30 affiliated towers.
About 25 peals has been rung in most of the standard methods, and
several Surprise methods, including Norfolk and Cambridge.
RECOGNITION OF MR THOMAS’S VALUABLE WORK.
At this point the Bishop of Sheffield arrived, and after being
given a hearty reception, and expressing his regret that pressure of
other engagements had prevented his earlier attendance, at once
proceeded to make a presentation to Mr. Sam Thomas, at the
request of the chairman. The presentation, which had been kept a secret
until the last moment, and came as a complete surprise to Mr. Thomas,
consisted of a very handsome smoker’s
cabinet (fitted up with tobacco,
cigars and cigarettes), with a suitable
inscription on an attached
plate, and an exceptionally
beautiful illuminated and framed address,
worked by Mr. Tom Lee. of Norton, himself a change ringer, and one
whose work in illuminating peal records and the like is well known in
the district. The address, dated 1890—1923. recorded Mr. Thomas’ 33
years' association with change ringing in the district, and his 21
years' association with the Sheffield District Society. for many years
as president, and later as its secretary. It recognised his untiring
and disinterested efforts in the cause of change ringing particularly
in the training and encouraging of young bands and concluded by
expressing the hope that he might be spared for many years to carry on
his good work, and asking his acceptance of the presentation with the
most cordial good wishes of the society. It was signed by all the
officers of the society on behalf of the subscribers.
The Bishop again expressed his regret at the fact that other
engagements had interfered with his presence at the meeting, but stated
that at all costs he had been determined to be in time to make the
presentation to Mr. Thomas. He knew well the value of the work of the
ringers, and especially of men like Mr. Thomas, who threw themselves
heart and soul into the work, and he could as Bishop, bear testimony to
the appreciation in which their services were held, and especially
those of Mr. Thomas, in sticking to it and persevering in the task of
training up and encouraging young bands. He had the greatest possible
pleasure, he said, in presenting these tokens to Mr. Thomas on behalf
of the society, in associating himself with its sentiments and in
wishing the recipient a long and happy life. — The
text of the address
was then read out by Mr. G. Lewis (president).
Mr. Thomas, who confessed himself taken completely by surprise,
and remarked that everyone had been in league against him, and that he
felt quite unable to make a speech, assured those present that he felt
that he did not deserve what had been done, and expressed his sincere
thanks to the subscribers. What he valued most was the unanimity and
spontaneousness of it all. He assured those present that he was no back
number yet, and that he should continue to do all that he could for the
art. He asked to be excused from saying more, as he felt too full and
too affected to speak. It might perhaps be mentioned that the
presentation was in the first mainly due to the disinterested efforts
of the late secretary (the Rev. J. F. Amies), whose departure from the
district was much regretted, and whose services to the society, though
short, were much appreciated. An appeal was sent out to the various
towers in the society, and only a small subscription was asked for, but
the response. much to the gratification of the organisers, was
considerably beyond expectations, and came as a further proof of the
esteem in which Mr, Thomas is held.
Following the presentation to Mr. Thomas, the society’s silver
cup and framed certificate, for the best year’s attendance for Sunday
Service ringing, were presented by the Bishop to Mr. F.
Watkinson. representing the Handsworth company, tile Bishop
genially remarking that he always seemed to bo presenting things to
Handsworth — they had a splendid Rector, and did well in
everything that they took up.
Other calls on his time intervening, tho Bishop had to leave at
this point, and smilingly declined a formal vote of thanks — an
informal one was. however, accorded to him as he rose to leave, in the
shape of very hearty applause.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
The election of officers resulted as follows: President. Mr. F.
Watkinson (Handsworth), in place of Mr. G. Lewis (Ecclesfield)
resigned: vice-presidents, Mr. A. Knights (Chesterfield) and Mr. J.
Holman (Sheffield Cathedral); hon. treasurer, Mr. J, E, Lewis Cockey
(Raninoor); hon. secretary, Mr. Thomas William Chown (Sheffield
Cathedral), in place of the Rev. J. F. Amies (Chesteirfield) resigned;
peal secretary, Mr. Sam Thomas (Ranmoor); hon. auditors, Mr. J. Flint
(Bolsovcr) and Mr. G. Hollis (Chesterfield).
The committee was re-elected, with the addition of Messrs. A.
Robinson (Dore) and Measures (St. Stephen’s, Rotherham), with the cup
sub-committee as before. The fixtures for the ensuing year were
confirmed — the next annual meeting, in accordance with the rules,
being fixed for Chesterfield, the hope being expressed that by that
time that popular peal of bells would be again available and the
wonderful crooked spire in a stable condition.
Twenty-one new members were elected — a sure sign of progress
— from Dore, Norton, Rawmarsh, Rotherham (St. Stephen’s),
Sheffield (Cathedral, Ranmoor, and St. Marie's, R.C.), and Whiston.
A number of business matters were discussed — including the
question of the control of the ringing at the various meetings;
services at each meeting; and the provision of fixture cards. No
resolutions were passed on the first two items, but in regard to the
last, the recommendation of the committee was accepted, i.e., that
small fixture cards should be printed as in pre-war days, with all the
details of the society and the year’s fixtures recorded on them and
that members should be charged 1d. per card — these cards to take the
place of the large tower fixture cards previously supplied.
A hearty vote of thanks to the retiring officers was proposed bv
Mr. Sam Thomas, and seconded by Mr. Cockcy and responded to bv Mr. G.
Mr- Harrison, in a racy speech, proposed a hearty vote of thanks
to the Vicar, organist, local company and ladies — expressing the
opinion that now that his old friend, Mr. Thomas, had been able to
rejoin one would soon be hearing of things doing at Ranmoor as in the
old days. — Mr. C. Haynes suitably responded.
Mr Potter (Barnsley) proposed a vote of thanks, which was earned
by acclamation, to Mr. Tom Lee for his exceptionally fine work iu the
lluminating of the address to Mr. Thomas, and to his generous action in
doing it as his contribution to the presentation.—Mr. Leo, in response,
referred to his work as a labour of love, and acknowledged the help and
encouragement he himself had always received from Mr. Thomas in the art
of change ringing.
Messrs. G. Hollis and F. Willey proposed a vote of thanks —
carried by acclamation — to the chairman (the Rev. J. R. Lee Nicholls),
and for the great interest he always showed in ringing matters.— The
Rev. J. R. Lee Nicholls. in responding, extended a most hearty welcome
to the society in their visits to Rnnmoor.
Some very good handbell ringing was indulged in during the
evening, and was much appreciated by those present.
End of Article