Since I last wrote, a little over ten days ago, life in our country has been turned on its head and is now unrecognisable.
In a televised address on Monday 23rd March the Prime Minister Boris Johnson made an unprecedented peacetime speech, which introduced further restrictions on freedom of movement to slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
A few days later and we now find that Coronavirus has impressed itself upon those at the top level of Government with Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and Chris Whitty becoming symptomatic. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has also tested positive after experiencing mild symptoms.
This only serves to remind us of why social distancing is important and needs to be adhered to. The disease is ruthless and doesn't discriminate against who it infects.
With this in mind and the likelihood of an extended period of social distancing being required, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all Association and District events during May. This will also include the Annual General Meeting.
The Steering Group, setup at the 2018 AGM, will meet using video conferencing to discuss the implications of cancelling the AGM and other issues that are arising during this period of non-ringing.
Cancelling the AGM is not a move that has been taken lightly, but given the current situation we need to take action to protect the wellbeing of our members and adhere to social distancing rules.
I do hope that it is possible to hold an AGM later on in the year once freedom of movement has been restored and social distancing measures have eased. I would like to thank the Northern District for their help in making preparations to hold the AGM, I realise that it will be of great disappointment that these have been in vain.
While there is no ringing taking place in Sussex it is important that we continue to stay together as friends. We need to check on those members of our towers who might be finding things difficult right now, some may be finding these strange times frightening. Please pick up the phone and see if they are ok, as Bob Hoskins used to say in the BT adverts of the 1990s "It's good to talk!".
If you're missing your bellringing fix there is plenty of simulator software available for use on your mobile, tablet or PC. I've been using Virtual Belfry to help keep the methods that I've been learning fresh in my mind, and to practice calling touches (without having to worry if they don't come round or if I miss a call). Whatever level your ringing is at, it can help to keep the mind sharp and focused on ringing. Traditional paper and pencil is also still available!
Some ringers in Sussex have also made use of video messaging technology to ring handbells while socially isolated. This performance took place yesterday using Facebook Messenger. It is great to see innovation that helps break down the barriers that we are facing right now.
The Central Council has also put together a list of bellringing related videos on YouTube. Marcus Brigstocke's Trophy People is well worth a watch, and features quite a few Sussex ringers.
Ringing in Sussex will be back - hang on in there!