The first Honorary Life Membership Award in AGEHR was given to Frederick Sharpe in 1963 at the 8th National Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Sharpe was the honored guest at the convention and was considered the foremost English authority on tower bells, having done much to further the art of handbell ringing during his lifetime. His contributions became the model for future Honorary Life Membership Awards which now total 30 throughout the history of AGEHR and Handbell Musicians of America.
According to the Honorary Life Policy which has been developed by the national board of directors, the granting of an Honorary Life Membership Award in the Guild is reserved “for those who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. This status is to be deemed the highest honor which the Guild can bestow and is to be reserved for individuals of the highest caliber.” This award is intended to recognize and honor a lifetime commitment to handbells based on exceptional service to Handbell Musicians of America and to handbell ringing in general.
All members of the Guild, including area boards and current Honorary Life members, have the opportunity to nominate persons to be considered for this award.
The national board of directors has appointed Ed Rollins, president-elect, to chair the selection committee. The detailed criteria appear below. The nominating form may be downloaded here. The due date for nominations is November 1, 2013. Questions related to the process or criteria may be addressed to Mr. Rollins.
The granting of an Honorary Life Membership in the Handbell Musicians of America is reserved “for those who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing. This status is to be deemed the highest honor which the Guild can bestow and is to be reserved for individuals of the highest caliber.”
The criteria to be used for the selection of Honorary Life recipients include:
A nominee should have contributed service both to the Guild and to the art of handbell ringing in general. These contributions should reflect an extended time commitment to the Guild and to handbell ringing. The nominee should be a current member of the Handbell Musicians of America; however, exceptions may be approved by the board of directors. Outstanding service is defined as activities that greatly exceed normal expectations or that are generally perceived as significant. The ideal recipient will have made contributions in each of the following two categories. However, an overwhelming contribution in only one category may be deemed acceptable.
Service to Handbell Musicians of America
- Service to the Guild at local, area and national levels.
- Achievement of national recognition for his/her contributions to the Guild.
- If service was as an elected officer, the contribution should exceed the normal expectation of the office.
Service to Handbell Ringing in General
- Development of a body of teaching methods/materials specific to handbells.
- Extended teaching/conducting that has raised the musical standard for handbell ringing.
- Composition of a substantial body of repertoire that has expanded the handbell idiom.
- Significant contributions to the invention, design, or development of instruments associated with handbell ringing.
- Authorship of a substantial body of published written work that expands the knowledge of handbells.
- Significant efforts to extend the art of handbell ringing into new arenas, such as educational institutions, community programs, churches, and international populations.
No person shall be considered either while employed by the Guild or currently serving on its board of directors.
National board members shall not be eligible for Honorary Life consideration for a period of two years following the end of their term.
BENEFITS TO RECIPIENTS
- Honorary Life Members shall continue to be recognized by the Guild for the significance of their contributions to handbell ringing.
- Honorary Life Members shall be exempt from annual membership dues.
- Honorary Life Members shall have full membership privileges.
- Honorary Life Members will receive a 50% reduction of the general registration fee for the National Seminar and 50% of their share of a double occupancy room when not included in the registration.
- The chair of the Honorary Life Committee shall be appointed by the national board of directors of Handbell Musicians of America (AGEHR, Inc.)
- The Honorary Life Committee shall be an anonymous committee comprised of five people, in addition to the chair, who are appointed by the national board of directors. Committee members should be chosen from five different Areas of the Guild. If an Honorary Life committee member is nominated, the Honorary Life chair will keep this information confidential and contact the national board of directors. The members must remain anonymous to the general membership in perpetuity.
- Any member of the Handbell Musicians of America may nominate persons to be considered for this award. Supporting materials, resumes, and letters of recommendation must be included with the nomination.
- In each year that nominations are invited, the selection criteria and current roster of award recipients shall be printed in Overtones, posted on the Guild website, and sent to all Areas.
- The Honorary Life Committee will screen candidates based on the selection criteria. It will be the responsibility of the committee to select candidates who have either a balance of service between the two categories (but not necessarily equal), or who have overwhelming service in one.
- Initially, the committee members shall remain anonymous to each other and communicate only through the chair, to prepare a list of candidates. The final meeting of the committee will be via conference call, when all members will be known to one another. At that time candidates will be discussed and a final recommendation will be approved.
- The Honorary Life Committee shall recommend a slate of up to two candidates for the award to the board of directors for its approval. It is the responsibility of the board of directors to confirm that each candidate meets the standards of the award.
- Following the approval of the board, the Honorary Life Committee chair will immediately contact the recipients by telephone and report to the board.
- Those being granted Honorary Life Membership will be featured in the next available issue of Overtones, posted on the website, and will be introduced at National Seminar of the same year.
- All correspondence concerning nominees and candidates will be destroyed following the vote of the board.
- There shall be no more than twenty living Honorary Life members.
See the current Honorary Life Member Roster.