The Central European Association – AGM weekend in Dordrecht, The Netherlands

As is now becoming a tradition, the Central European Association held its Annual General meeting in Dordrecht over the long Ascension Day holiday weekend, 29 May – 1st June 2014, and was attended by Association members travelling from Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and The Netherlands. Any visitor who has had the opportunity to visit ‘t Klockhuys in Dodrecht will enthuse not only about the wonderful ring of 8 bells there but also the legendary welcome extended by Dordrecht local ringers, Paul and Harm Jan de Kok. The AGM weekends are no exception to the rule and 4 days of ringing, eating and drinking all under one roof makes for a fabulous time for one and all.

The weekend kicked off in fine style on Thursday evening with a peal of Lessness S.Major followed by the usual refreshments and a relatively early night. Apart from general ringing and peal focus the CEA tries to arrange some form of cultural/social event during the weekend. This year, on the 70th Anniversary of “Operation Market Garden”, a visit was made to The Airborne Museum in Hartenstein near Arnhem – a mansion previously used by The British army as HQ in September 1944. The Operation was intended to bring about a speedy end to WW2 in Europe as thousands of Allied troops were parachuted into Arnhem. Sadly the plan was a disaster resulting not only in the deaths of 17,000 Allied troops but the almost complete destruction of Arnhem and surrounding neighbourhoods .The Museum had a fascinating if rather sombre display of the events including photos of the devastation caused. It was fitting that Association members then visited the Oosterbeek War Cemetery where many of those Allied troops  (mostly British and Free Polish) are buried. It is known that 3 bellringers from the UK who lost their lives during the battle are buried here and with information provided by Alan Regin the graves were located and handbells were rung at each graveside along with the laying of flowers. The names of the soldiers who died are as follows:

  • Private J.C.Pollard, The King’s own Scottish Borderers Airbourne, died 24/9/44 aged 24. A ringer at Sawley
  • Driver F.W.Hill, Royal Army Service Corps Airbourne, died 21/09/44 aged 27. A ringer at Probus.
  • Sjt H.G.Howell Glider Pilot Regiment, Army Air Corps. Died 20/09/44 aged 24. A ringer at Walsall

(see performances on Bellboard listed under Central European Assoc AGM)

Back at ‘t Klockhuys the weekend continued in fine form with a peal of 4 Spliced S.M and one quarter peal of Glasgow S.M in the tower , 2 handbell peals of 8 Spliced S.M and Lincolnshire S.M, one handbell quarter peal together with general ringing. The business meeting held on Saturday 31st May highlighted the fact that the Association continues to flourish with 27 current members and advances were continuing to be made both in tower and handbell ringing. Unlike other Associations the challenging distances involved in organising ‘local’ ringing means that keeping things going does require some time and effort, and expense, on the part of members!! It is a credit to all that the association continues to grow.

Finally – no visit to Dordrecht is complete without the customary Port to get the party started.  So after the business was concluded the Port was consumed and the usual celebrations continued well into the evening – and for some carried on well into the night at the Postillion Hotel which fortunately is well accustomed to rather rowdy “apres bellringing” parties in their bar until all hours…!!! Some people being rather more rowdy than others of course…..!

Ringing at ‘t Klockhuys is by appointment only. If you are visiting The Netherlands or are perhaps living in Europe and we don’t know about you – please feel free to get in touch for details. Enquiries can be addressed to:

Paul de Kok: mailto:p.m.dekok@hetnet.nl

You can also find us on Facebook  – Dordrecht ‘t Klockhuys  – and we have a new website under construction – search under Central European Association.

Margaret Gamble

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