When the Sonning Deanery Society was founded in 1880, only the ‘administrative’ roles of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer were created, and they were all held by clergymen. When the Society was absorbed into the newly founded Oxford Diocesan Guild the following year, the posts of secretary and treasurer were combined, and they remained so for over a century until they were again split in 1986.
In 1951, WJ Books was elected vice chairman, a post that had not previously existed. Bill had been Foreman at All Saints Wokingham since 1921, and he played a very active role in the Branch. The post was created in recognition of his work, and he held it until he died in 1963. The post had no formal duties, other than to chair meetings if the chairman was absent, and by the 1980s it was generally knowledge that the vice chairman's only task was to propose a vote of thanks for the tea at meetings. When the rules were revised in 2006, the post was deemed unnecessary, and removed.
The post of Ringing Master was created even later. The Branch operated without one for 78 years. Ringing events were organised by a committee of all the tower Foremen. Perhaps the actual ringing was run by the foreman of the host tower. WJ Parker first suggested the need for a Ringing Master 1950, but the Branch Committee rejected the idea. Then in 1956 it decided that there should be not just one but two Ringing Masters, one for ringing at 8 bell towers and one for ringing at 6 bell towers. They were duly elected at the 1957 AGM, with Bill Parker (6-bell) and Harold Smith (8-bell) taking the posts. In 1968 this arrangement changed to create a Ringing Master and Deputy. In 1973 it reverted to joint Ringing Masters, but this time with no formal split of responsibilities. Finally, in 1981 it again changed to a Ringing Master and a Deputy. After John Manley's departure in 2012 no one was willing to assume the post of Ringing Master so the post remained vacant and paradoxically two joint Deputy Ringing Masters were elected.
The post of Bookstall Officer followed the creation in1984 of a bookstall to enable members to browse and buy ringing books at Branch events. Initially it was operated by the Secretary but from 1987 a separate post was created, originally called Librarian but changed in 2006 to Bookstall Officer.
The post of Training Officer stemmed from the inauguration of Branch training courses in the early 1990s by Ringing Master Hugh Baxter who initially organised them. After he stood down John Harrison continued to organise periodic courses in an unofficial capacity until the post of Training Officer was formally created in 2006.
The post of Webmaster was created to manage the Branch website. This began as a private initiative by Aidan Hopkins, who also established the Guild web domain.
Some time later the Branch set up e-mail lists to improve communication with members, between towers, between officers, and within any tower that wished to have its own list. Managing these lists requires a Postmaster. The job is quite distinct from managing the website, but (so far) the same person has always held both roles.
As well as these roles that share the tasks of running the Branch, the Branch has since 1881 elected two representatives to the Guild General Committee. These are no recorded here (but might be in the future).
There are lists of officers below.
In the early years, officers tended to serve for many years, but in recent decades, length of service fell dramatically. This might be ascribed to the introduction in 1980 of a rule that officers should not normally serve more than 5 years in the same post, but the trend of shorter service began well before this, and in fact very few people even served for 5 years after 1980. Most served for only 1 or 2 years, and a few served for more than 5 years, suggesting that the 5 year rule had very little effect.
The dates given are the inclusive years of holding the post. So '1971 - 1973' refers to a 3-year term, elected in the years 1971, 1972, 1973 and serving from the AGM in February 1971 to the AGM in February 1974.
Webmaster / Posmaster
Deputy Ringing Master
** Job done unofficially from 1993 - 2005, before the post was formally created.
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