The weekend got off to a flying start when the annual dinner weekend peal was scored. For NUSCR’s 60th birthday the obvious method choice was NUSCR Surprise Royal which was rung at All Saints’ in a time of 3h 2m. The band was chosen to include as many past masters and past Presidents as possible. It was a challenge and thanks to the experience and skill from the older generations it was successful – congratulations to all of the band. The band then piled into the available cars and journeyed to Beeston to join the rest of NUSCR waiting in the Star Inn. Many celebratory pints were then shared with friends old and new.
The Dinner Day Tour began at Clifton Holy Trinity. Many of us squashed onto the very busy tram out to Clifton and arrived to the first ringing of the day. The ‘games room’ out the back of the ringing chamber provided entertainment for those not ringing. Sadly, the team building exercises did not improve the quality of the ringing from certain individuals (you know who you are!).
Following on from Clifton, it was a dash in the rain to the tram to get to St Peter’s in the city centre. The tower quickly filled up with late arrivals, those travelling from further afield and the sleepy heads recovering from the heavy night before. The ringing chamber was bursting at the seams so a large proportion of us resorted to waiting on the roof. In traditional NUSCR style there was some unusual ringing; the rounds on 13 provided many laughs and even more when attempting to stand all 13 at backstroke.
Due to the fantastic turnout we struggled to fit into a single venue for lunch! The party split between two Wetherspoons pubs; The Roebuck, Nottingham and The Last Post, Beeston. A few pints were drunk, but there wasn’t long before it was time for ringing at St John’s, Beeston.
After ringing at Beeston, it was time for everyone to put on their posh frocks and for the pre-dinner drinks to start flowing. The committee house was full of people, with Vic on the phone to Roger sorting out last minute details and last-minute ironing of dinner shirts going on in the dining room. With the visiting friends from BUSCR staying in the committee house, people were running around like headless chickens trying not to fall over each other.
The table entertainment, raffle prizes and committee were kindly chauffeured to the venue by Ellis, who then returned to the committee house and the BUSCR members. Once at the venue, the committee diligently set to work to dress the tables and manoeuvre the birthday cake into prime position on the top table. A huge congratulations and thank you to Emma Jones for the wonderful cake! Guests began arriving at 7.00pm and were greeted by a champagne reception; a lovely addition helping the 60th feeling like a really special celebration. As the room began to fill with NUSCR members from every generation it was lovely to be able to talk to people about their experiences of being a member of NUSCR.
Dinner was announced, and the room turned into a frenzy, with all 120 guests trying to navigate the seating plan. The table of freshers were seated directly in front of the top table; a decision which Vic later regretted! The first course was brought out and we were treated to a delicious tomato soup. The main was equally scrumptious and I was told by experienced dinner-attendees that it was some of the best food we have had in years.
During dessert, it was noticed that both Vic and Roger were frantically scribbling on pieces of paper. Turns out their speeches were being written ready for imminent delivery! Can’t say I blame them with everything else they had had to organise. After the plates were cleared and coffee was served, it was time for some ringing. The hand bell touch was flawless, with members not ringing putting in the bobs with poorly timed party popper detonations.
Then it was time for the guest speakers. As it was a special occasion, we were treated to two guest speakers. NUSCR was very privileged to welcome Christopher O’Mahoney, President of the Central Council. His speech was very enjoyable, with many anecdotes and laughs shared. Our second guest speaker was Jack Page, a Birmingham ringer and a friend of many members of NUSCR. Jack’s speech was based on the children’s story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ but transformed to have ringing theme. His tale of ‘We’re going on an outing’ was very amusing and (having had a reasonable quantity of alcohol) went down an absolute scream with NUSCR. Many thanks to both guest speakers for joining us in our birthday celebration.
With the meal finished and speeches concluded, it was on to the dreaded photographs and it was time to move from the Senate Chamber up to the Great Hall. The traditional Masters’, Secretary’s and Treasurers’ photos were taken, although there was a slight delay as we temporarily lost Vic! Then came the big group photo; Roger did a fantastic job of co-ordinating all of us into organised lines. Even the balloons behaved and did as they were told! To be able to stand amongst all of you as a new NUSCR member, I can say that it was honestly an absolute pleasure. The photo (featured on the back page) shows my new family that I love being a part of.
Then it was ceilidh time! The band had been incredible, waiting for us as the speeches had over run. The music was fantastic, and the atmosphere was better than I could ever have expected. The band, knowing NUSCR so well, played our favourites; 120 guests made a lot of sets and a lot of baskets! Due to the length of the speeches, the ceilidh time was cut slightly short. However, the wonderful band members extended their set for us to that we could have a decent length dance, despite the late start. There was a short interval to the ceilidh as the raffle was drawn, but then it was back to the dancing. Sadly, in one of the last dances of the night there was a small collision resulting in a banged head and light graze. But luckily there were no serious injuries. Then it was time for the final dance. A huge round of applause was given to the incredible ceilidh band and then it was time for carriages. Guests began to leave, and it was time for the clean-up operation to begin! Those who perhaps had drunk a little more than was good for them were bundled into taxis, and it was left to Vic and her team of little troopers to tidy up the mess we’d left. Coats and scarves that had been mislaid throughout the evening were found and returned to worried owners. After all the guests had left, it was down to the wonderful committee to sweep the floor and finish off the last few bits of tidying. Unfortunately, Gnorman the Gnome was ‘accidently’ damaged in the clean up process and was peacefully laid to rest in a bin on University Park Campus. RIP Gnorman. Roger’s car proved very useful in transporting the NUSCR birthday cake to safety. And then finally the dinner was over! But the big birthday weekend did not end there...
Quite a few sore heads awoke on Sunday morning and made their way to ringing at All Saints'. There was a wonderful turnout to the service ringing, with some Surprise Royal making an appearance. The tower was full of people from all generations, which was a pleasure to see. Following All Saints’ ringing, we headed back to Beeston where it was time for the Inter-generational Striking Competition.
The striking competition had been organised by Andy Wignell and our beloved President. There were plenty of bands with some generations being represented twice. The aim of this competition had been to allow ringers from across the generations of NUSCR to compete in a friendly competition to see which generation was ‘the best’! Everyone congregated inside Beeston Parish Church, with bands disappearing up the tower when it was time for their chance to prove they were the best generation of NUSCR – with a band of all stars representing Nottingham Trent / TPSCR. Meanwhile, Vic and Roger cut the birthday cake, which was distributed out. Even after everyone had had a slice there was still a significant amount of cake left. But you’ll be happy to hear that when the leftovers were taken to practice the following week, they were demolished rather quickly! Results were announced, and the winning band was the 90’s Boys band. They were delighted but a good effort was given by all teams.
The results of the Intergenerational Striking Competition marked the end of NUSCR’s birthday weekend. People began to leave and embark on their journeys home. The committee were kept busy with people wanting to take them aside and thank them for a wonderful weekend. It was an incredible celebration of a lively and thriving society. A huge congratulations to the committee for organising it all; good luck to the next committee for having to follow it! It was lovely to meet so many new people and I can’t wait to see many of you next year at the 61st. Have a wonderful year. See you in February!
Report by Ed Walker with forgotten details added by Vic Halford