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Brian Woodall

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About Brian Woodall

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  1. I’ve just bumped into this thread, so have joined up as I can help about the Bell Medal. The Chas R E Bell Challenge Trophy looks as shown on the Bell Medal, is silver and wood, stands 104cm high and weighs 43kg. It was made by the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co Ltd and bears a London hallmark for 1908. It was presented to the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs in 1909 by Charles Bell, President of the R Bell and Co Rifle Club. A Bell Medal was issued annually to each club affiliated to the SMRC, for award in a club competition or however else the club chose, in each year from 1909 to 1939. During that time I estimate that about 55,000 were issued. From 1940 a certificate was given instead. It was normal for a person to win the Bell Medal or certificate only once, but that person was then entitled to shoot in the main competition for the Bell Trophy for life and without having to pay the entry fee. The competition for the trophy was held at one of the SMRC meetings (the SMRC changed its name to the National Small-bore Rifle Association in March 1947) and continues to this day, now alternating between the NSRA’s National and Scottish Meetings. The 2019 competition was held last August at Bisley Camp and the 2020 competition will be shot in July at Lauder in the grounds of Thirlestane Castle. The current course of fire is 20 shots each at 50 metres and 100 yards, shot in the prone position with a .22 target rifle. Since the Bell Medal lasted so long, it was inevitable that more than one set of dies would be used to produce it. In fact 13 dies of the obverse and nine of the reverse have been identified and the engraved examples that I own or have seen means I can tie most of the dies’ period of use to a very few years. Fortunately the photos you provided were very good and your medal is clearly made from the first dies used and was thus issued between 1909 and 1913. As part of my research on the Bell Medal, I have also collected the names of about 16,000 winners (out of 55,000 awarded), so there is a chance that I may be able to locate a record of its presentation to one of your ancestors. If you care to let me know the name of your Grandfather, I’ll be happy to check. Don’t worry about his relative youthfulness in 1909 – quite a number of the medals were won by youngsters, for example school pupils and members of the Church Lads Brigade in particular. I notice that your surname is Carr, but that may not be the name of the Grandfather you are talking about. There was a Bell Medal won by J T Carr of Grimsby Fisherlads in 1912, but this is presumably too far south! However another Carr, this time with initials T E and a member of the Walker and Wallsend Union Gas Co Rifle Club, won the Bell Medal in 1913, which is just inside the timeframe and very close to the required locality. The other Carrs who won medals in the right period had initials J W, T A, T W and two W’s, but they are all well away from the Tyne area. If there are any other surnames in your family in the 1909-13 period which might be in the frame, I’ll be happy to check them out as well, including the other Grandfather’s surname, of course! Age is not an issue – the winner could have been a teenager or into his 70s. Also bear in mind that some Bell Medals were won by ladies, quite a few rifle clubs having lady members and there also being some clubs exclusively for ladies.
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