The Ancient
Society of
College
Youths
Est. 1637

Obituaries

As the Society cannot currently pay tribute to departed members at business meetings, memories and recollections are being collated here.

Andrew N Stubbs
Derek Fowles
R Roger Savory
Stephen J Davis
John E Drewitt
John F Bryant
John A G Clements
Roy V Webb
Eric J Sterland
Roger D R Brown

Andrew N Stubbs

(Elected 1961, died 2nd April 2020)

Phil Rogers:

I first met Andrew in the early 1970's at an Appleton Dinner. He and I always remembered the occasion because late in the evening at the hotel where many of us were staying Stan Mason, who was recovering from a serious heart attack, collapsed on the floor and lay immobile for some time. We feared the worst until eventually he got up and said "Fell over the bloody dog".

When I came to London in the early 1980's Andrew and I did not always hit it off. We both had strong views which we were not afraid to express and they did not always coincide. It was only when I became CY Secretary that I came to appreciate him fully.

He and I had been on opposite sides in the big rule change debate and I anticipated that relations could be difficult. Nothing could be further from the reality. From the first day he was wholly supportive and I learned his true quality. Not because he always agreed with me, which he didn't, but because his concern, like mine, was to do the best possible job for the Society and to work with the rest of the Officers to achieve that. For 6 years Andrew and I used to speak on the phone most weeks and I always felt better at the end of the conversation than I had at the start. His support continued when I took over from him as CY Treasurer. I am eternally grateful to him.

3 weeks ago today I had a conversation with Andrew at the CY Informal Dinner. I have no idea what we talked about and it doesn't matter. He and I pretty well always had a chat when we found ourselves in the same room and I thought this was just another in the sequence with many more to follow. I will miss him enormously.

Tony Kench:

When Andrew Stubbs stepped down as ASCY Treasurer in November 2006, he had completed a truly impressive 25 years' service. Secretaries are reckoned to have reasonable longevity in post, but Andrew was Treasurer with five of us. Of all past Treasurers only Albert Hughes ever served longer, 1919-56.

I first met Andrew in the early 1960s. He arrived in London three years ahead of me and we followed the same College Youths' path. We took part in the Tuesday practices, we joined the St Paul's Cathedral Guild together. We were asked into Society peals, doing our best to navigate the intense Moreton-Williams rivalry of the day. We became officers within a year of each other, Andrew preceding me as Junior Steward 1966-67 and as Master 1968-69. We particularly enjoyed being Stewards together under Phil Corby's avuncular Mastership 1967-68.

Andrew went on to become Treasurer in 1981, succeeding Stan Mason. It was a pleasure to rejoin him as a fellow officer later in the 1980s when I went through the chair again for the Society's 350th, and then again as Secretary in the 1990s. Much of what the Treasurer and Secretary do is behind the scenes. As Secretary I spoke to Andrew at least once a week to consult over the issues of the day, and I know my successors did too. Andrew was always objective, full of common sense, and we rarely disagreed. As many will know from other fields, it is of huge value to be able to share questions and compare conclusions in such a friendly and constructive way.

For the many members whose contact with the Society was mainly at the Annversary Dinner, they saw Andrew as Toastmaster. This was a role he fell into without any particular decision being made, but he proceeded to make it his own for a quarter of a century, wheezing into an annual succession of microphones after long Dinner Day pub sessions, but always getting it right on the night.

Andrew had also been visible to many as a long-standing Society Central Council Rep, and for his time as Director and Chairman of the Ringing World. Other members encountered Andrew if they fell behind with their peal fees. One of his more onerous tasks as Treasurer was to use his eye for detail in keeping a checklist of all Society peals rung, ensuring all the peal fees were collected, and getting all the details assembled for the peal book writer.

Others again mainly saw Andrew on a Sunday at St Paul's, which from the 1970s had been his main Society ringing activity. Long after he had moved to Birmingham with his job in the insurance industry, he still drove to London every other week in his smoke-filled company car for service ringing at St Paul's, and he was one of the mainstays of the lunchtime pub wit and wisdom. From Rising Sun to King Lud to Cockpit, Andrew's rigorous drinking ritual could be observed: each fresh pint stood untouched before him for exactly ten minutes. Then a quarter of it would be drunk in one go, and another ten minutes would go by. And so on (we timed him). One lunchtime someone was offering one more drink before afternoon ringing, and the other member of the round said he'd better just have a half because he had to drive home afterwards. "Hmm" said Andrew, "I've got further to drive than he has, I'll have a pint!"

Andrew continued regular service ringing at St Paul's until 2000, when he stepped down from active Guild membership, becoming an Honorary Member in 2001. He represented St Paul's eighteen times in the National 12-Bell Contest, winning twice in 1984 and 1996.

At Society business meetings Andrew enjoyed cultivating a rather Luddite air, once famously asking, when someone suggested Society records could be archived on CD-ROM, "what's a CD-ROM?" And he was certainly the last Treasurer to decline to be on email (only doing so much later in life). But the accounts were always clearly presented, the books always balanced, and we were always in the black.

Andrew had much to be proud of in his time as Treasurer. He served the Society and its members very well indeed, and enabled the Society to do financially all the things it wanted to do. He took great pride in the healthy state of the Bell Restoration Fund, which had been started by Stan Mason but which under Andrew's management went from strength to strength. A major contribution to that strength, which Andrew proposed, was to route London members' annual steepleage payments straight in to the BRF on a covenanted (now Gift Aided) basis. To mark Andrew's impending 25 years of service as Treasurer, a Mont Blanc pen set was presented to him at the 2006 Country Meeting in Birmingham.

May he rest in peace. He will be long remembered, and very well remembered.

Chris Kippin:

Andrew grew up in Birmingham and learnt to ring at Handsworth. He graduated from Oxford University in 1961 and moved to London to join Equity & Law Life Assurance Company as a trainee actuary. I first met him when we rang together in a Society peal of Pudsey Royal at Rochester Cathedral in December 1961, conducted by Wilfred Williams, and we rang many more together over the following years, including with the Flying Circus band. Andrew worked for Equity & Law for the whole of his working life, and although he gave up actuarial studies, he carved out a very successful career there, working variously in their head office buildings in London and High Wycombe. When the company decided to open another decentralised head office building in Coventry in the early 1980s Andrew moved back to the Midlands to take up a senior role there.

Although I knew Andrew for nearly 60 years, he was a very private person and I never felt that I got to know him really well. But we did have a number of things in common besides ringing, an interest in railways being one. For a short while I too worked for Equity & Law, and when I came to London for an interview it was Andrew, then in Personnel, who met me. In later years, due to various takeovers, we both found ourselves pensioners of the same insurance group.

Andrew will be much missed for his dedication to the Society, his integrity and wise counsel, and his dry sense of humour. I shall miss him as a friend of very long standing.

Clive Smith:

I am very saddened to hear this news. I cannot say I knew Andrew, however despite this I remember that he would always be able to greet me with a very friendly gesture despite probably not really knowing me at all, and this did make me feel more welcome in the society. Often we only know the value of those people when they are no longer with us and I suspect Andrew is very much in that category of people who, as a result, stand clear of others.

Laith Reynolds:

Andrew was a true gentleman, a great ringer and a good friend, personally and to international ringing. When I was first introduced to the ASCY both he and Jim Prior were very interested in what was happening in the world scene and convinced the Society that it was not necessary for up and coming international ringers to meet the exacting standards required of UK ringers to be elected to the Society.

Whenever I met Andrew he would always ask after my wife Jan, whom he would spend considerable time talking to when they met. He liked to keep up with our family activities.

There were, in the 1980s, a considerable number of senior CYs interested in encouraging overseas ringers and generating tours abroad, these also included Bill Cook, Andrew Wilby and George Pipe among others.

Andrew was an indefatigable ringing tourist and of his over 2,100 peals, 150 of these were outside the British Isles. Alan Regin, a fellow supporter of international ringing, advised me that to his knowledge of the 102 peals he had rung with Andrew, 97 were rung overseas.

At last year's CY dinner, my son Cameron Reynolds and myself were seated next to Andrew and we had considerable enjoyment reviewing some of his tours - although normally he was not someone to self-promote either his 25 years as Treasurer of the Ancient Society or his many ringing accomplishments, which included Birmingham, St. Paul's Cathedral and Oxford. It was very pleasing to see him honoured by the Society.

A sad ending to a notable life to be taken by Covid-19. He will be truly missed and remembered as a great supporter of ringing worldwide.

Andrew Corby:

All who knew Andrew will feel very sad to hear of his passing. I remember him as a fellow bell ringer, valued colleague and as a friend.

I rang seven peals with him, the first being of Prittlewell Surprise Royal at Prittlewell in 1965, which I conducted and which was arranged by my Father and Sister. I knew him in those days as a College Youth and regularly encountered him at meetings and practices. Like Andrew Wilby I remember the attempt to ring a long peal of London Royal at North Stoneham, which came to grief in the 15th course because of too many Andrews in the band (including me)! The convivial journey back afterwards with the other two Andrews and others in the buffet car on the train from Southampton to Waterloo came to an abrupt end as we realised we were going through Vauxhall, and we thought that we had only just left Southampton!

I recall attending the dinner at which Andrew was Master of the Society. He concluded his speech by saying that he was proud to say that he was Master of the Ancient Society of College Youths on their Dinner Day. That I think says tellingly how Andrew was loyal to the Society and never wavered in his support for it.

I rang a further six peals with Andrew, the last being at East Grinstead in 1989, but, after the mid seventies, I knew him more as a work colleague. I joined Equity & Law in 1976 and I came to know him well and work with him on some important projects. I thought of him as a valued colleague and friend. He sometimes stood his ground (as others have remarked) if he thought that he was right, but it was always with good humour. In those days many people worked for Equity & Law for their entire career as did Andrew and, as a result, he was well known and had many friends in the Company. He was Chairman of the Social Club for many years.

In 1998 Equity & Law merged with Sun Life, and we both left. However, every November since, there has been a Pensioners' Reunion lunch and we have both been to most of them. Andrew would always make sure he had seen me to have a chat at some point, before we all went our separate ways.

The many tributes to Andrew speak for themselves. I mourn his loss and honour his memory.

David Bleby:

It is strange how, for one who only visits the UK infrequently, a relatively small number of ringers stands out in one's memory. Andrew Stubbs was one of them. From the first College Youths practice I attended in 1975, through later practices, occasional College Youths events I was able to attend, a broken series of Central Council meetings, the Central Council Centenary and international striking competition and several College Youths and other UK tours of Australia, Andrew stood out always as a friendly, polite, helpful, welcoming and pleased-to-be-welcomed member of the band. He will, sadly, be missed.

Nigel Orchard:

Like his very many friends I greatly enjoyed and looked forward to Andrew's company.

I first met him about 1967 when I started bellringing with the Oxford University Society (OUS). Each year until recently I would meet him at The OUS annual dinner weekend in February, March 4th dinner weekend, on the OUS tour, on his May bank holiday Devon weekend, for a week's canal boat holiday, and in Devon again in the autumn for a call change striking competition with a scratch band of method ringers which, over about 25 years, managed to win once, came last once and achieved most places in between, I would often attend meetings of the OUS of which he was a distinguished president for many years and would ring with him in various peals. All these events left plenty of time for pub visits.

He was a great organiser of these get-togethers and a meticulous planner of each day's canal cruising, ensuring we always had time for a long pub lunch and evening. His roast lamb and his meat stews for dinner were excellently cooked and the breakfasts and lunches he provisioned lavishly. One went on a serious diet after these trips! His insistence on setting off each morning at 7 o'clock was less popular with the rest of the crew but it had always been done that way...

I was on the canal trip when he collapsed and nearly died. Until then his life was greatly centred around beer and ringing and I admired the way he adjusted to being able to enjoy neither of these.

In ordinary circumstances ringers would be flocking to arrange peals in tribute to him and any church would be packed for his funeral or memorial service. Sadly this cannot be but I'm sure it will happen as soon as it becomes possible. Meanwhile he will be often in our thoughts.

Richard Allton:

Overall Andrew rang 2184 peals, conducting 4. Just under one third of his peals were on 12 bells. He rang 405 of them with the Society. His first peal was Cambridge Major at Shirley in 1959. He was soon ringing with the Society, and the first Society peal was Spliced S Royal in 3m (CYP!) at Stepney in 1961 conducted by Wilfred Williams. The third peal was the Society's first peal of Londinium at Reading in 1963. He rang a wide variety of methods with the Society including the then record peal of 13968 Spliced S Maximus at Bradford in 1980, and the 6204 Stedman Cinques at Perth in 2003, using the original composition. He was also one of the Society's intrepid travellers, ringing peals in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Ireland. His last peal with the Society was in 2011 at Reading, marking his 50 years' membership.

As mentioned by others, he rang in the Birmingham Thursday peals, including the first ever peal of Orion to name one. Additionally he rang two further record peals:

15699 Stedman Cinques at Birmingham in 10h30 in 1966

16559 Grandsire Caters at Appleton in 9h10 in 1968

Tudor Edwards was also in the band for the Appleton peal, and on seeing the peal board in the tower, I do remember wondering how both Andrew and Tudor lasted 9 hours and 10 minutes without a cigarette!

Howard Smith:

I am really going to miss Andrew. He was Master when I joined. I fondly remember many Sunday afternoons in the Old King Lud (now also alas no longer) after the Annual Dinner. There was a hard core including Andrew, two or three from Yorkshire, P.L.C. myself and others. Happy days before Andrew had to cut back on alcohol. He always made a point of speaking to me to find out what was happening in the North East.

The thing that I would really like to say is that there is a list of past Masters who always took an interest in me, as a lowly ringer starting to work my ticket organising nine bell peals, always enquiring how ringing was going and at that time I found it surprising that they all remembered my name and where and what I rang.

The list is much longer but I would like to mention the following, Jim Prior, Fred Collins, Tony Kench, Stan Mason, Michael Moreton, Bill Cook and last but not least Andrew Stubbs. Thank you to all of You.


Derek Fowles

(Elected 1952, died 22nd March 2020)

Graham Firman:

I first met Derek on 29th September 1973 when I came to Bray, Berkshire, for a peal. Derek was the local who let us in and was in the band. I didn't know then, of course, that three years later I would be moving to the parish of Bray, joining the local band and ringing with Derek 3 or 4 times a week for the following 43 years.

At my first practice there in August 1976 there was no doubt about who was the mainstay of the band. Derek's wife Wenda was tower secretary and Derek was responsible for everything else: tower captain, treasurer, steeple keeper, clock winder amongst others. And that was the pattern of his life - if there was a job to be done Derek would be there to do it. Over the years others took on some of the roles in the tower, but Derek was deputy captain for many years as well as continuing as treasurer.

Derek was a tower captain's dream. He was always on time, could turn in the back bells well and, apart from his annual 2 weeks holiday, was always there. In fact, until recently, he was hardly ever absent due to illness - a fantastic record.

He learnt to ring at Cranford, Middlesex, in 1943 after the wartime ban on ringing was lifted. Later on he joined the 43ers, a group who all learnt to ring in that year, and went on many of their annual reunions. In 1967 he married Wenda, a local ringer at Bray, and their son, Colin, was born the following year. They bought a house in Holyport, a village in the Bray parish and he lived there for the rest of his life, taking a full part in church activities including PCC member, magazine editor and running the annual advent market.

Apart from ringing at his local towers, Derek also took a prominent role in Guild and branch activities. He was at various times Branch Ringing Master and Chairman in the Middlesex Association, and in the Oxford Diocesan Guild EBSB Branch Ringing Master, Branch Treasurer (1982 to 2003), Secretary of the Oxford Diocesan Bell Fund and 100 Club organiser. Even at the time of his death Derek was still Chairman and Treasurer of the EBSB Fund Raising Committee, a Trustee of the Oxford Diocesan Guild and a Managing Trustee of the ODG Restoration Fund.

The EBSB Fund Raising Committee runs a 'shop' selling items of interest to ringers as well as more general items. Derek and other members of the committee would take their shop to most ODG meetings as well as making appearances at non-ringing fetes and shows around the Guild area. Over the years they raised thousands of pounds for the ODG Bell Fund.

His interests were not confined to the church and ringing. He was an enthusiastic gardener, had a large allotment which he kept in impeccable order, and kept bees. There would be many times that Derek brought along a basket full of beans or other vegetables from his allotment for the ringers.

Derek was very proud of his College Youths membership. There is a lovely picture on our web site of the 1955 anniversary dinner. Derek is there in the centre with his ringing friends at the time - John Hill, Brooke Lunn, Frank Price, Mike and John Chilcott, Michael Moreton, and Jim Phillips amongst others.

Derek would have been the first to say that he wasn't a higher numbers ringer or a peal ringer (37 in total). However, he was a steady back-ender and the 'resident' ringer of the heavy Bray tenor for many years, ringing several hundred quarter peals on that bell. Over the years Surprise Major has increasingly featured in the repertoire of the Bray band and Derek was always keen to join in with ringing the method of the month and learn something new.

Derek was still ringing regularly at Bray until a couple of months before his death at the age of 93, having been a ringer for 77 years. To Wenda and Colin and his family we send our sincere sympathy.


R Roger Savory

(Elected 1952, died 13th March 2020)

Howard Smith:

Back in the last millennium when I was at Basingstoke, Roger conducted a peal of Grandsire Caters at Basingstoke when the CCCBR was still debating to count them or not and the peal recorder wouldn't anyway. Roger got our peal of Caters recognised because the composition was specifically designed for ringing on nine bells.

Rest in peace my friend.

Mary Clark:

Roger was an outstanding ringer who insisted all members of the band ring our best - or we would hear from him loudly and clearly! Underneath a somewhat gruff exterior, however, was a genuinely soft heart, a person who truly enjoyed each one of us, with a ready smile, and always happy to ring with his fellow ASCY or NAGCR ringers.

I missed Roger when he could no longer ring, and I am sad that he is now gone from us.

Chris Povey:

I first met Roger in the mid/late 1980s, when he made one of his visits back to the Vale of Evesham. He used to stay with Gerald Hemming, who arranged a few peals for them to ring in. I rang in some of these peals. I was immediately surprised by Roger's voice. He had been living in the USA for 30-odd years at that time, but he spoke like someone who had never been outside of his native area: just pure and unadulterated Vale of Evesham; not the slightest trace of American. Quite remarkable.

In 2004 Arthur Berry asked me if he could have the Bell Tower's light 10 for a peal of Grandsire Caters, so he could ring the then fairly-new extra treble and thus circle the tower. He said he had been given a composition by Roger many years previously and wanted to ring it with him in it to see whether he recognised it. Very soon afterwards Roger wrote to me asking for a peal on this 10, so that he, too, could ring the extra treble and circle the tower. I told Arthur about this and said he and Roger would have to fight over who would ring the extra treble.

The peal was arranged and Arthur agreed Roger should ring the treble as he was older and therefore might have fewer chances to do so - which shows how wrong you can be, as Arthur died not many years later. A very good band was arranged (it was an ASCY peal). Arthur called it from the 2nd. Gerald Hemming took hold of the 9th and I wondered how he would cope with ringing simple Grandsire Caters against fancy Surprise, but he was supreme. It was a cracking peal in the quickest time on this 10 - one of those peals that stick in one's memory. A joy to ring in it.

At the end Roger sat down on the tenor box and said, "Who was that by, Arthur?" I knew what was coming. With a trace of a smile, but without saying a word, Arthur eased himself over to his jacket hanging on a peg on the opposite wall, delved into an inside pocket and brought out an old, scruffy, white envelope, which was obviously from Roger and contained the comp. Again saying nothing, he eased himself back across the room towards Roger, who was still sitting on the tenor box. As he passed Roger he offered him the envelope; and as he did so he said, "Here you are. It's yours!" There was a lot of laughter. It was a truly classic moment to cap a truly classic peal.

As a footnote, the above peal was the last Gerald Hemming rang in the Tower. He died fairly soon afterwards. A peal of Grandsire Caters was rung at the Bell Tower by members of the W&DCRA in his memory using Roger's composition, with Arthur Berry this time calling it from the extra treble.

Michael Uphill:

I knew Roger originally through my various friendships in Worcestershire which was his home county. Others will have been much more closely involved for I met him, I think, on not many more than a dozen occasions, which included the ringing of four peals between 1967 and 1972. But he was one of those genuinely "nice" people who would always find time to chat as though you were an old friend. I can't remember whether I bumped into him on any of the CY UK tours (or even whether he attended any of them) but there is a wonderful story about the last time I can actually recall seeing him.

In 2008 I was in New York City to do some peal-ringing on the then relatively new bells at Trinity Church, Wall Street. I had arrived a few days early to spend some time with my cousin's daughter and her husband who live just outside the City. I had arranged with Tim Barnes, who was then the tower captain, to take them to the Wednesday practice. As you may know there are very strict instructions for entry to the church on practice night. If you're a bit late, you have to report to the receptionist in the foyer of the admin office to gain access. We found our way to the offices and as we walked through the large glass doors, chatting away, we saw the receptionist at his desk a few yards inside, talking to a man with his back to us who immediately turned round towards us saying, "I recognise that voice." It was Roger. My cousin's daughter was gob-smacked. Here we were in her city, having just walked into a gigantic skyscraper belonging to one of the world's richest churches and I, just in from London, get recognised by somebody who hasn't yet even seen me!

Just one of those unforgettable moments! And they enjoyed Roger's company, too.


Stephen J Davis

(Elected 1979, died 17th Apr 2020)

John Keeler:

Whilst we had both lived in Kent for most of our lives I did not meet Steve until after we had both retired. Steve held a senior management role at British Telecom and had decided to retire early when the opportunity was offered. Our first contact came when Steve stood in a peal attempt at Ightham where we were one short for 7 Surprise Minor. After he agreed to ring I asked him what Surprise Minor methods could he ring? Any of the 41 Standard Surprise methods was his response which was far more than most of the band at that time!

It was very clear from that first meeting that Steve was a very good ringer and had the potential to progress way beyond what he had previously achieved. His enthusiasm and enjoyment of ringing and ringers was matched by his love of the post peal lunch and good company. Steve got on well with everyone, and soon became a good friend.

We often travelled together when my house was on the way to where we were ringing. So I had some of the history of Steve's ringing as he told parts of his journey. His local tower having learnt to ring at Woodchurch was High Halden where his parents still live today. It was at High Halden through regular Wednesday quarter peals with Ashford District friends that he knew so many minor methods. A number of years at Ashford followed and he enjoyed ringing on the 10. Steve was a member of the Willesborough band and also an Associate at Canterbury Cathedral at the time of his passing. He was a regular in quarters at Dover during his retirement. I was amazed at how many days of the week Steve was out ringing and the miles he regularly covered.

Up to our first peal together in July 2014 Steve had rung just 54 peals since his first at High Halden in August 1997. In the early years 1978 and 1979 there was a cluster of activity with some of the stronger Kent bands, including Richard Hayes and Pat Cannon who proposed and seconded his membership of the Society. No doubt helping them get new towers and tenors which is a continuing Kent pastime. Steve was elected in June 1979 so had just over 40 years membership.

Having somehow avoided each other for so many years we made up for lost time in the period following the peal at Ightham in July 2014. By the time of his final peal at Frant on 6th August 2019 he had rung 293 peals, including 5 with the society.

Steve's ringing achievements during the 5 years were significant and include 41 Spliced Surprise Minor, Norman Smiths 23 Spliced Surprise Major all the work which were on his long standing wish list. Steve worked extremely hard in his preparation for attempts, practising the peals on his computer at home. It is sufficient to say that his ringing was at its peak when illness forced a premature conclusion.

I mentioned earlier that Steve enjoyed good food and wine and Val and I benefited from a list of places that were recommended for our Friday lunches. Like one or two of us Steve was always trying to keep his weight down and did so through gym sessions and various diet plans. A typical peal journey would include tales of the gym, diet and what hard work it was. Several hours later at lunch, with a steak or fish and chips ordered I asked if he had given up his diet. An enormous smile emerged and I am told that today was a holiday from such things, but he would go to the gym on his way home!

Steve was a generous, caring man, whose support for his family and friends was without limit. He had supported his Father through cancer treatment and partner Scott through serious back surgery not long before his own illness. His pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in September last year and a brave battle through treatment saw little respite. He remained strong and himself throughout, more worried for the impact upon his parents than himself.

He was a good ringer and dear friend, Rest in peace.

Phil Rogers:

I started ringing with Steve in Kent about 5 years ago after we both retired. He was modest about his method ringing ability, often taking the treble when he could have rung inside to, in his view, give the band the best chance of success. Despite this he rang inside to peals in a wide variety of methods including multi-spliced minor and Norman Smith's 23 Spliced, which I conducted.

You always knew with Steve that he would do his homework and put in 100% effort on the day. If he was responsible for a problem in ringing he was mortified and had to be cheered up afterwards. I think the last time I saw him he was inside for an attempt for Horton's 4 which was lost late on because of a cross. I had no doubt that we could go for it again with the same band and have a good chance of success. Sadly, soon after that Steve visited his GP with what he thought was a minor ailment only to discover that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. His last months were difficult but he died peacefully and free of pain.

Steve was a good ringer and always good company. He will be sadly missed.

Mark Chittenden-Pile:

Stephen John Davis (known as Steve to his many friends) started ringing in 1974 at the age of 13, encouraged by school friends. He initially learned to handle a bell on the rustic ring of six at Woodchurch near Ashford in Kent, but soon started ringing at the nearby village of High Halden, which was where he lived at the time.

Steve was Tower Captain at High Halden for a number of years and led a young and enthusiastic band, which included his lifelong friend Gary Harden. He was encouraged by several of the old stalwarts of the Ashford District, namely Crawford Hillis of Wittersham, Mark Marshall of Bethersden and Robert Swift of Ashford. Steve made steady progress through the standard methods and rang his first peal on 20th August 1977 at High Halden (Minor in seven methods conducted by the late Crawford T Hillis). Steve had decided that he would not attempt a peal until he could manage seven different Minor methods! One of Steve's pet hates in ringing was Double Oxford Minor, which he loathed with a passion, but it was also one of the staple methods of Crawford's peal band! As a compromise, Steve agreed to learn Ipswich Surprise to take the place of Double Oxford. This was the first of a total of 293 peals ranging from Doubles to Surprise Maximus.

Steve rang primarily at High Halden, but was also a regular attendee at nearby Bethersden and Tenterden.

In 1979, Steve was elected to the Ancient Society of College Youths (proposed by Richard Hayes and seconded by the late Pat Cannon). It was not until around 2004 that Steve attended a CY practice for the first (and last!) time despite working in the City for many years. I happened to bump into him on my way to a Tuesday evening practice at St Paul's Cathedral and persuaded him to come along. Steve rang in a touch of Stedman Cinques on the 8th and said he found the experience absolutely terrifying! He did, however, ring in five peals for the Society, mainly with other Kent College Youths.

In the early 1980s, Steve went to university in Norwich to study Music. He did very little ringing during this period, but did ring a few peals for the Norwich Diocesan Association. Steve returned to Kent in 1985 and started ringing regularly with the Ashford band as well as supporting the local band at High Halden. He was Ashford District Ringing Master in 1985/1986.

In 1987 Steve moved to Ashford and joined the local band, which was enjoying one of its strongest periods at the time. The repertoire of the local band included Spliced Surprise Major and some Surprise Royal. In addition to this, the Ashford band won both of local striking competitions in 1986, 1987 and 1988 as well as the Kent County 6 Bell Contest in 1986 and 1987. The Ashford team lost by one point to All Saints, Maidstone in 1988!

In 1988, Steve reluctantly took over as Captain of the Ashford band, but found the commitment of running the tower and commuting to London each day quite a strain.

By the end of 1989, Steve became slightly disillusioned with ringing and coupled with the pressure of his job, decided to take a few weeks out from ringing, but unfortunately a few weeks became twelve years! Steve did, however, come out of 'retirement' on three occasions: in 1993, he rang in a quarter peal of Doubles on the five bells at Ruckinge to celebrate the ordination of his friend and ex-Ashford ringer David Ridley; in 1999 he joined some of his old ringing friends for a quarter peal of Bob Major at Wye and he also found time to visit an Ashford practice one evening in the late 1990s after having been persuaded by Mary Marshall to come along. Unfortunately, work commitments prevented him from doing any ringing at the time.

In 2001, David Ridley became Vicar of St Mary's, Dover and it was suggested that a quarter peal be arranged at Ashford to celebrate the event. It was felt that it would be appropriate to get as many of David's old ringing friends together as possible. Steve was persuaded to stand in for a quarter peal of Yorkshire Surprise Major, which he'd not rung for 12 years and had to rummage around in his loft to find his well-thumbed copy of 'Diagrams' in order to bone up on the blue line!

Despite some initial hesitancy, Steve rang very well and later told me that it took a while for his ropesight to return! Happily, this event led to him returning to ringing on a regular basis by re-joining the Ashford band and became a loyal and faithful member. In recent years, Steve mainly rang at Willesborough, but supported the Sunday evening quarter peal band at Ashford whenever he could. He was also an Associate Member of the Canterbury Cathedral Company and took part in Sunday afternoon quarter peals as well as helping out with any mid-week ringing when the availability of ringers was limited.

Steve was an excellent striker and took great pleasure in achieving a high standard of ringing. He was comfortable on any bell, but preferred to ring round the front end where he excelled. As well as being a meticulous striker, Steve very rarely went wrong and could be relied upon to learn methods thoroughly.

Steve soon started ringing with the local Wednesday evening quarter peal band, which was co-ordinated by Mary Marshall and based primarily at High Halden. For many years, the band tackled an impressive number of tricky Minor methods with great success.

It didn't take long for Steve to become involved with District affairs and became Ashford District Chairman a few years later where he worked tirelessly to get as many ringers involved with District events as possible. He was always happy to support District meetings and practices as often as he could.

Steve took early retirement in 2013 after 25 years' service with BT. Having more free time on his hands, Steve was able to take part in peal ringing on a regular basis and was soon ringing with John Keeler's peal band. He was thrilled to achieve many ringing goals during the last few years, which included Norman Smith's 23 Spliced Surprise Major, London (No.3) Surprise Royal and 41 Spliced Surprise Minor.

In the last six months of his life, Steve fought his illness with great courage and was optimistic that he may join his ringing friends once more. Sadly, this was not to be and he passed to his rest peacefully on April 17th at the age of 58 years.

The Exercise has lost one of its kindest and most generous members. Steve will be sorely missed by all who knew him. He was great company and a very dear friend to all as well as being the definitive 'good ringer'.

Andrew Corby:

Ringers in Kent were shocked to learn of Stephen's serious illness and now the sad news has come that he has been taken from us when he seemed to have so many more years to give not only to ringing in Kent but also to his local tower at Willesborough.

He will be deeply missed at Canterbury Cathedral where he was an Associate of the Cathedral Company, and by the quarter peal bands at Dover.. The Tower Captain of Ashford has written a moving tribute. It seems difficult to accept that I will never see him in the belfry again.

I always looked forward to ringing with Stephen. He was good company and had a sensible, down to earth approach to any difficulty. He had a kind, generous and openhearted approach to life which we all treasured.

We will always remember him. RIP.


John E Drewitt

(Elected 1960, died 11th April 2020)

Brian White:

John Drewitt was born on 2nd September, 1942 in the hamlet of Eaton, attached to Appleton, then in the county of Berkshire.

He attended Appleton primary school until he moved with his parents to Rosehill a suburb of Oxford and I well remember him walking the mile each way to and from Eaton to Appleton school with his grandmother in all weathers.

On leaving school he trained as a toolmaker at the Pressed Steel factory at Cowley, Oxford and stayed there all his working life.

On getting married he moved to East Hanney near Wantage and eventually moved from there to Appleton.

John's father Edwin was a ringer at Appleton and as a result of this connection with Appleton tower John was taught to handle a bell in his 'teens by the late Francis A. White (Frank).

John made rapid progress and eventually was competently ringing Grandsire and Stedman Caters, the methods rung at Appleton at that time and rang a few peals of these methods.

Once married and having moved to East Hanney he gave up ringing for a number of years, starting again for a short while once he moved back to Appleton. Although he gave up ringing for a second time he and Geraldine always attended the annual Appleton “March 4th” dinner until Geraldine died a few years ago after which he no longer attended.

He died of Coronavirus in the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford on 11th April, 2020 aged 77.

John was one of life's characters and will be missed in the village, especially walking down to the village shop with his two dogs to collect his daily paper and calling in to Whites of Appleton's premises for a chat with the staff from time to time.

May he rest in peace.


John F Bryant

(Elected 2000, died 12th May 2020)

John Thurman:

John Freeman Bryant was born on 11th September 1937. Along with his brother Geoffrey, he learned to ring as a youngster with the very strong local band All Souls, Haley Hill, Halifax. The Haley Hill band was, in the 1950s and -60s, renowned as one of the best local bands in the North of England and included the likes of Vernon Bottomley and J Henry Fielden.

John's first peal was Plain Bob Major at Mytholmroyd in 1952 and he made rapid progress from there going on, mostly with the Haley Hill band, to ring peals of Pitman's spliced series at various towers in the West Riding, as well as handbell peals in a variety of methods including both Stedman Cinques and Spliced Maximus. In total, John rang 155 peals including 42 in hand. He rang 95 peals with brother Geoff who was his leading ringer, his leading tower was St Thomas, Heptonstall and his leading method being Cambridge Surprise Major.

John studied in Manchester during the late 1950s and rang a number of peals with the Manchester University Guild, but his leading association was by far the Yorkshire Association. He joined the Ancient Society of College Youths relatively late in life, in 2000, and his only peal with the Society was Cambridge Surprise Royal at Hexham Abbey in 2001.

In his professional life he was a Chemistry Teacher, working for a long time at Huddersfield Technical College. Whilst his peal total is fairly modest, John's major contribution to ringing was using his teaching skills to help develop local ringing. Instilled no doubt in his early days with the Haley Hill band, John was well known for his insistence on high standards of striking and method ringing, and would spend a lot of time on ensuring his learners mastered the basics at each level before moving on.

He had a wide range of knowledge and interests, he enjoyed a pint after ringing and his dry, understated sense of humour made him very good company in the pub after practice, although he was no one's fool and always able to robustly make his point when required. He was the driving force behind the project to install an extra treble at St John, Halifax in 2005, which he felt would help the local band to develop their method ringing, and he led the project to success despite some opposition.

John was a determined character and major heart surgery over 20 years ago did not stop him remaining physically active, doing a lot of walking and cycling well into his retirement. Unfortunately, John suffered from dementia in recent years, and this curtailed his ringing activities somewhat.

He rang his final peal in 2008, Plain Bob Major in hand at his home in Elland but continued to ring at Halifax Minster, his wife Anne driving him to the church each Sunday, until about 18 months ago when his declining health made it no longer possible. Shortly after this he moved to a care home where he died on 12th May this year, with Anne by his side, having listened to a recording of a touch of Stedman Cinques on handbells in which he rang the trebles.

John Bryant was a gentleman who always gave of his best, and expected the same of others. He was a very capable ringer who generously gave his time to help others in all facets of life. He will be sadly missed.

Anne & Neville Parkin:

John who died on Tuesday 12 May has played an important part in our lives not only as a relation (Anne's cousin) and friend but also a ringing companion. John learned to ring at All Souls' Halifax in the 1950's and became a talented member of a very accomplished Sunday Service band.

Neville began ringing with the All Souls' Band in the mid 1950's. Both took part in ringing Pitman's Surprise Major peals on tower bells and Stedman in hand. In the early 1960s that was a tremendous achievement for a local band.

The 1962 John rang the trebles to a peal of Stedman Cinques in hand conducted by Wilfred Moreton which was the first for the Yorkshire Association by a resident band. In 1965 John rang the 3rd at York Minster to the first peal of Stedman Cinques on tower bells by a resident Yorkshire Association band.

Anne spent a lot of time at the Bryant family home and was introduced in the early 1960's firstly to handbell ringing by John and his brother Geoff and later to tower bell ringing. John was hugely encouraging of our efforts and rang in both our first tower bell peals.

When ringing ceased at All Souls' John joined the ringers at Halifax Parish Church (now Halifax Minster). In 2005 he was instrumental in the project to install a light treble in memory of two All Souls' ringers.

Since our move to Hexham John has been very much included in ringing events arranged by the Hexham Abbey Guild of Bell Ringers. He attended several annual ringing trips and especially enjoyed the ones that involved cycling between towers. John rang 155 peals, six of which were at Hexham including his one and only peal for ASCY. We always took advantage of his visits to Hexham to organise some handbell ringing.

We will miss him for all these reasons and more.

Geoffrey Bryant:

John grew up in Haley Hill, Halifax in a house immediately opposite the church, All Souls, which became the focus of his early tower and handbell ringing career. The All Souls belfry did not recover after the end of World War II and in 1949 the Vicar approached the local youths in his Youth Club and enquired if any of them would like to have a go on the 25 cwt ring of eight bells hanging idle in his belfry. A small group, including 12-year-old John, agreed to give it a go and slowly but surely the band increased in numbers and ability. Led successively by Roy Mann, Vernon Bottomley and Henry Fielden there emerged a band capable of ringing spliced surprise major for every Sunday service. John rang his first peal in 1952 and during the following two years rang peals in Plain Bob Major and Royal, Kent Treble Bob Major, Grandsire Cinques, Double Norwich, Cambridge (with a local All Souls band), Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, London and three-spliced Surprise Major.

Between 1956 and 1960 John read Chemistry at Manchester University (he rang three peals for the Manchester University Guild) and gained his PGSE qualification at Leeds before joining the staff at Huddersfield Technical College where he remained happily and efficiently teaching chemistry before moving into the Educational Development unit. In 1963 he married Anne (also a teacher at the College) and began a very happy family life with her and their sons Richard and Henry, first at Norland and later in Elland.

The All Souls local band continued to prosper and by 1962 had rung all of A. J. Pitman's all-the-work Spliced Surprise Major peals from 3 to 9 methods. In 1960 a number of the All Souls ringers began to practice ringing on hand bells and by 1962 John had rung the trebles to two peals of Stedman Caters in hand. Later in that year Wilfrid Moreton joined the five All Souls ringers and John rang the trebles when the new band succeeded in ringing three peals of Stedman Cinques - the first handbell peals of Stedman Cinques rung by a resident Yorkshire band. As a corollary to that achievement John rang the third bell at York Minster when, again for the first time, a resident Yorkshire band rang a peal of Stedman Cinques on tower bells.

The closure of All Souls church in the early 1970s allowed John's family to holiday widely throughout Europe, North America and Africa whilst, with personal friends, he cycled the Road to Compostella and walked through the Nepalese mountains. He climbed mountains in Scotland (Munros were a favourite) the Pyrenees, Tanzania and Nepal. An injury ended his rugby playing career but he worked for many years as an official at The Old Crossleyans Rugby Club and he rarely missed watching a home game. On his numerous travels he collected the wherewithal to plant a variety of trees around the club's playing fields. In his later years John joined the band at Halifax Parish church, later Minster, where he taught numerous learners (including the renowned composer and conductor James Holdsworth) and was instrumental in raising the cash to add a new bell to the ring in memory of two of All Souls' finest ringers, Bob Moulds and Henry Fielden, who both died far too early. In 2000 he was elected a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths.

Though smitten with dementia Anne regularly took him to join the Sunday service ringing at Halifax Minster. He spent his final year in the loving care of the staff at Bridge House Care Home in Brighouse. He died in the early hours of Tuesday 12 May with Anne by his bedside, she having played for him a recording of a touch of Stedman Cinques on handbells in which John rang the trebles.

Addendum from Geoffrey:

The middle F = Freeman. I have got our surname Freeman back to 1610. In 1840 it goes down the female line to Richardson but in 1884 Freeman is adopted as a middle name form my grandmother - Florence Freeman Richardson. It then carries on as a middle name to reach my great grandson James Freeman Laird in 2018. The Freemans owned massive stone quarries in Southowram, near Halifax and shipped stone south to London where it was use to pave the streets. If you watched the recent TV programme Gentleman Jack, the story of the lesbian Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, near Halifax, I have found that Anne used Freeman stone when she extended the Hall in the early 19th century. End of history lesson! Best wishes, Geoffrey Freeman Bryant brother of the late John Freeman Bryant.


John A G Clements

(Elected 1988, died 28th May 2020)

Richard Pullin:

Those of us who were lucky enough to have known John will always remember him with great affection and respect. He was an extremely unassuming, unaggressive, quiet gentleman; not shy, but simply without the need to advertise his presence. He was very good at weighing up a situation in his quiet way, and we will fondly remember his knowing smile!

John was of course much loved and respected in the Worcestershire & Districts Association, both for his lovely personality and his local prowess as a ringer and conductor. He turned up to a branch meeting once while we were starting on the tea. It wasn't quite a 'cheer' as he came through the door, but there was detectably a strong feel of rejoicing at his arrival.

John's presence on the end of a bellrope contrasted with his demeanour when not ringing. Though still unaggressive and not at all intimidating, he commanded attention and you could really tell that this was no ordinary ringer whilst he chanted away to the rhythm with every fibre of his being engrossed on the task. His enormous talents were inherited by his children and shared by a wide network of ringing grandchildren, in-laws and friends.

Once he told an old story about a band of ringers who turned up to ring a peal of London. They met one short and explained their predicament to a stranger who was sitting in the churchyard. It turned out that this man was a ringer and knew London, so he completed the band and they rang the peal!

Just a few personal memories. John was friends with my tower captain and a solid supporter of the fortnightly Surprise Major practice at my home tower. He almost certainly rang in my first blows of Surprise Major. Though elderly and small in stature, he regularly turned-in the 15cwt tenor effortlessly and elegantly.

He rang in very many of my earliest quarters and peals, including my first peal, my 13th Birthday quarter, and first peal as conductor. Almost by symmetry I called what turned out to be his final peal, and this happens to be ten years ago this month (on the heavy six at Powick on a very hot day, this was daunting enough for those of us who weren't nearly 80 years old!) But I've always rather regretted that John's final peal was not the one he rang two months prior to this, when the family gathered at Hanley Castle for his son Michael's 1000th peal.

What I will never forget about John was how he sometimes used to come up to me whilst we were waiting for the other ringers to arrive, and we would have a quiet little chat about some or other ringing topic.

Liz Orme:

John Clements learned to ring at Bredenbury in Herefordshire and in his youth he was a regular ringer at Pencombe and Bromyard. It was during this time that he first rang surprise major and rang with Wilf Moreton.

On marrying Gladys in 1954 they moved to Malvern, Worcestershire where John became a member of the Malvern Link band. When Malvern Priory were back in action this became his local tower and in 1971 he was elected tower captain, a position he held for 45 years until 2016.

Ringing has been an important part of John's life, he was an enthusiastic ringer and a regular attendee at many of the local practices. He became a member of the Martley District Guild and Worcester Cathedral Guild. He was a capable ringer and conductor, and during his lifetime he rang 740 peals and conducted 128 of them. The vast majority of his peals were on eight bells or less and many were of surprise. On higher numbers John rang ten peals of maximus, including Cantuar Alliance, and twelve of cinques.

John was a keen participant in the local ringing scene. He was a loyal supporter of the Worcestershire and Districts Change Ringing Association, during which time he held the position of Western Branch Master on two separate occasions and latterly was elected Branch Chairman.

Although a most competent ringer, John is much better remembered for his skills as a teacher, mentor and guide. There was rarely an evening or weekend where he was not teaching learners, developing a new band or helping someone ring their first peal. He rang in the first peal of 74 ringers and many of them he conducted. In addition to running a popular practice at Malvern Priory he built new bands from scratch, one at Berrow and one at Castlemorton in Worcestershire. For many years he was a tutor on the Hereford ringing course, he was an inspiration and encouragement to many. With a father so devoted to bell ringing it is no surprise that his three children followed in his footsteps and learnt to ring. Unusually perhaps, all are active ringers today, and owe much of what they have achieved in their different ways to the excellent teaching received as children.

As a person, John was well liked by everyone he met. He was always friendly and cheerful, he had a smile for everyone and was good company. Never one to be the centre of attention, his strength was his ability to inspire others to achieve their goals and progress with their ringing.

In recent years John's physical health meant that he did less ringing, his last peal was in 2010 and a few years ago he had to stop ringing altogether. He endured all the setbacks with quiet dignity. Notwithstanding this, one of his proudest achievements was the augmentation and rehang of Malvern Priory bells in 2016, made possible through the hard work and help of many dear friends. His last ring was on the new ten there.

John Clements will be very much missed by both family and friends.


Roy V Webb

(Elected 1949, died 28th May 2020)

Alban Forster:

Roy only lived up the road from me in Stevenage when I was growing up and so we got to ring a lot together, mainly at Hertford County Association Northern district practices at Baldock. We used to have a bimonthly surprise practice there which he often attended. He was always very jovial and a pleasure to ring with and be around. He helped me improve by being a steady ringer in peals I used to get invited in at Meldreth by Richard Castledine who also rang at Stotfold. It was a pleasure to congratulate him on his 70 years of ascy membership at last year's dinner. May he rest in peace.

Trevor Groom:

53 years ago I knocked on Philip Mehew's door in Stotfold and asked him if he would teach me to ring. There was no regular ringing at Stotfold at the time but Philip immediately arranged to lash a bell and began to teach me the art of handling. In the spring of 1968 Stotfold gained a new parish priest Vernon North and at the induction shindig I was introduced to Roy Webb. He asked Philip if he would teach his son Keith to ring and so started a friendship that has lasted ever since.

Roy had been a Norton ringer and rang in the first peal on their new eight on 9 November 1948. Roy also rang in the first peal on the new six at Stotfold on 10 July 1948. Enid and Roy married in 1954 and Roy worked hard to set up his own tool making business which meant a gap from regular ringing. With Philip though ringing returned to Stotfold and so did Roy who was indispensable in the nurture of this new young band. David Saunderson returned and we soon developed a very strong six bell band.

Roy with Enid drove all over the area giving us the chance to ring at and experience other bells and ringers. His generosity of both his time and hospitality was boundless. We tackled change ringing on handbells after service on Sunday mornings in their home and this was instrumental in a proper understanding of how methods, course bells and the like worked.

Keith and I rang our first peal at the first attempt at Stotfold together in April 1969 with Roy, Anthony Smith, Martin Major and Philip in the driving seat. Roy having called our first quarter of Grandsire Doubles the month before. Stotfold were a fine ground floor six in a frame for eight and we talked of the possibility of augmentation. Enid and Roy made this possible with characteristic generosity by giving the second bell and aided by our good friends in the Biggleswade District we found the money for the treble. A wonderful new eight in 1976 was the result and we rang the first peal in 1977 with a local band. Roy again gave practical help and funding so that we could put in the ringing platform in 1978 built by the band.

In 1980 Kathy and I married and moved to Hitchin and Roy took on the role of tower captain and kept regular service ringing at Stotfold going over the ensuing years and with Dick Castledine made the Thursday practice a regular venue for some very advanced surprise major ringing. Always active in the Bedfordshire Association Roy was Biggleswade District Chairman for a time. In 1999 we rang a peal of Stedman Caters at Bishops Stortford for the College Youths to celebrate 50 years of membership for both Roy and the incorrigible Jack Dear.

Roy's peal ringing had grown in range and complexity with many rung at Stotfold and Meldreth with a pretty astonishing range of surprise major methods. 569 peals on tower bells and 15 as conductor. Always consistent, glued to the blue line, utterly dependable.

With Keith marrying Rebecca, my wife's younger sister, in 1981 Roy and Enid went from good friends to family and so it has remained. Enid sadly died not long after they had celebrated their Ruby Wedding and Roy moved to Wrestlingworth but his loyalty to Stotfold was undimmed both as tower captain and server.

I shall always treasure the memories, the friendship and generosity of a principled man with quiet good humour but who did not suffer fools. It's been a privilege.

Keith Fleming:

I got to know Roy in the mid/late 1960's when I was a branch secretary of the Bedfordshire Association, and through ringing at his home tower of Stotfold occasionally. Considering the business pressures he must have been under, as he owned a machine engineering business, and also latterly had to cope with his wife's disability, he was always extremely cheerful and was excellent company.

I see that we rang a few peals together, including one of London Major, conducted by that great London enthusiast himself - the late Stephen Ivin. I recall that Roy was one of those modest dependable ringers, who never seemed to go wrong, and struck his bell immaculately at all times.

A few years ago we both were invited to attend a significant birthday lunch for a mutual friend and, fortunately for me, we were seated next to each other. One could not have wished to spend a couple of hours in more pleasant company. Very fond memories of a lovely man, whom I would class as one of life's true gentlemen.

Andrew Keech:

Very sorry to hear of Roy's passing. He really was a gentleman ringer and much more talented than you might think from glancing through his peal records. He knew what he liked (mostly Surprise Major) and stuck to it, though could easily have developed his ringing onto higher numbers had he wanted to.

He was an excellent and reliable ringer on 6 and 8, and later in life was encouraged to join in with 10 bell practices, ringing for Bedfordshire in the Ridgman trophy, but always with some diffidence "I'll ring if you really can't find anyone better" was a standard line.

He was an adept and skilled steeplekeeper and was always one of the first to help out with technical issues at local towers. Perhaps it's fair to say he was a little shy and certainly had a quiet persona, but once he got to know you there was never any doubt he'd ever see you short of a ringer, a helping hand, a pint or a lift if required. Definitely one of the good guys.

Clive Smith:

I had the great pleasure to sit next to Roy at last years dinner, he was delighted to be there and very much enjoyed it. Although we had not seen each other for several years the conversation flowed easily and this was very much down to Roy who as ever was full of conversation, stories and taking an interest in others.

I have known Roy pretty much all my life, he was a stalwart of the local ringing meetings I would attend well before I learnt to ring and was always friendly, welcoming, encouraging and helping the youngsters to progress in our ringing. Roy was one of those who set the standards, not just in the belfry but outside, showing how the friendly social side of ringing should be. Has was a true gentleman.

Anthony Smith:

Roy learnt to ring at Norton shortly after the war. I don't know who any of the other ringers were but he must have come under the influence of Tom Newman, from nearby Stotfold where Tom had been the driving force behind a recent restoration, as Roy was asked to ring in the first peal there, it being his fourth peal. It was Tom who proposed Roy for membership of the Society.

During the 50's and 60's Roy's ringing was restricted by commitments running his engineering business and being a family man. It was when his son, Keith, became a proficient ringer that they both joined the local band in Stotfold where they were now living. At this time peal ringing was restricted to one or two per year until the turn of the century when things started to hot up. Many peal attempts, and several peals, were rung at Meldreth on a Wednesday morning ranging in complexity from single surprise methods to 27 Spliced Surprise. In total he rang 569 peals of which 15 were with the Society. In addition to peals he was sought after for striking competitions, representing Bedfordsire in the Ridgman Trophy 10 bell competition several times, winning at least once.

Aside from peal ringing Roy took over as local secretary in Stotfold in 1976 a position he held for the next 40 years. During which time he was instrumental in seeing through the augmentation to 8 and the installation of the ringing gallery. His activities were not confined to his local tower, he took an active part in the affairs of the Biggleswade District serving a term as Chairman. It was during his time as chairman that we decided to restore and tune the bells at Potton as a project to celebrate the Bedfordshire Association centenary. It therefore fell to Roy to negotiate with the Potton PCC and ensure that all the necessary arrangements were made.

Over the last few years his health has been deteriorating and his participation in actual ringing has declined. However he still attended practice and took an active interest to the end and fondly remembered attending last year's dinner in celebration of his 70 years membership.

In summary Roy served the Stotfold tower, the Biggleswade District and ringing in general conscientiously over many years and is already being missed.


Eric J Sterland

(Elected 1967, died 23rd May 2020)

John Sterland:

Eric grew up in the village of Morton in Derbyshire, the only son of a coal miner who worked at the local colliery. His childhood house comprised four rooms, no bathroom and an outside lavatory.

On answering a call from the local vicar who was keen to get the bells ringing again after second world war hostilities ended he joined other young members of the choir and started learning to ring. This was a pivotal moment in Eric's life as friendships were formed and continued right up to either their or his passing. The teenage band progressed rapidly and between them rang their first peal in August 1947, Eric being the eldest at almost 17 years of age. They followed that on numerous occasions, including for the commemoration of royal events. Cycling with his friends to other practices in the area meant that they could be found ringing on most days of the week, such was their desire to indulge and improve. He was an active ringer for almost 74 years which ended when he rang for a carol service in a local church at Christmas 2019.

On reaching school leaving age and much to his fathers disappointment, he turned down the offer of work in the mining industry and opted instead to begin an apprenticeship as a bricklayer remaining in the construction industry all his working life until retirement in 1993. The last 23 years of which he was employed by the civil service as a clerk of works supervising the construction of notable crown and public buildings across the midlands.

On Easter Monday in April 1950 and along with his ringing friends he cycled to Swanwick to attend the annual general meeting on the East Derbyshire and West Notts Association which was another pivotal moment in his life as it was there that he met his future wife Joan. The tower captain at the time was Benjamin Walvin and he had recruited the help of his niece to assist with refreshments for the event. This was the start of a relationship which lasted until his death.

After the completion of his apprenticeship national service was the order of the day and accordingly he joined the Royal Air Force for two years from 1952 to 1954. After basic training at RAF Padgate (near Warrington) most of his remaining time was spent at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk where engine maintenance and repair saw him working on various aircraft types. Notably Avro Anson registration TX 183 belonging to the station flight was a major feature of his time and he later discovered that the aircraft still existed and to this day can be found in a museum in the United Arab Emirates. During his service he couldn't wait for it to end but in later life reflected that he wished this could have become a permanent "career move".

The marriage to Joan took place in October 1954 and the first of his three children was born in November the following year. Without a house of their own, the first five years of their married life were spent living with Joan's parents in Swanwick for which he remained grateful all his life. The opportunity to buy a piece of land arose so accordingly he started building his own house whilst still going to work, finally moving in with his family of now two children in August 1960. Having extended and subsequently altered it over the years, he spent all his remaining days in this property and in accordance with his wishes, passed away there.

In the early 60's he became tower captain at Swanwick (the heaviest six in Derbyshire) and in his tenure of over 45 years he taught many, many people to ring notably creating a teenage group of repute, some of whom went on to greater things as they sought their fortune elsewhere. Michael Foulds and the late Edward Martin are both widely known in ringing circles and who started their careers with Eric. The five bells at Swanwick were installed by Taylor's in 1902 and augmented to six in the 1950's but their plain bearings and weight meant they were challenging to ring for any length of time. Eric rang the 17cwt tenor for the first peal on the six bells in 1973 in 3 hours 8 minutes. The time had come for substantial attention and following a period of fund raising organised by Eric they were subsequently re-hung by Frederick Pembleton in 1982. Funds were as ever in short supply so cleaning and painting of the frame was done by Eric with support from family and the odd local volunteer.

Bellringing was a major part of all his life and he served as secretary, ringing master, vice-president and life member of the East Derbyshire and West Notts Association. He was also a life member of the Derby Diocesan Association and elected to the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1967. Whilst he rang many peals, around 40 of which being with his lifelong friend Brynley Richards he was dedicated to good striking and keeping the bells ringing at various towers locally. He taught his three children and two of his six grandchildren to ring such was his keenness to keep things going for the future. His ringing and construction knowledge meant that his services were constantly in demand and this was no better illustrated than in the extensive refurbishment of clock and bells at Alfreton which was completed in 2016 in his 86th year. With constant liaison between Whitechapel, Smiths of Derby and local builders, new suspended floors, bell frame, refurbished clock and a re-configured ring of eight requiring two new bells were incorporated. He particularly enjoyed a trip to the foundry to see a trial erection of the frame with the bells in place.

A heart condition meant his peal ringing days were brought to a premature end but he continued to attend practices, association meetings and service ringing up to a few months before his death. Symptoms of his heart failure condition, whilst being ably managed by specialist nurses, together with other health problems meant that his normal scope of activities was reduced. He was however still laying bricks on a family house extension at 85 years old and always strived to have a project "on the go".

Outside bellringing he was very proud of all his grandchildren and their achievements and supported them all in the various activities and careers that they embarked upon. The death of his eldest daughter in 1996 left two teenage boys without parental support so Eric showed his "never being fazed by anything" approach and adapted to the administrative demands of their farming business. He was a regular churchgoer and despite what life threw at him, his faith remained steadfast.

Whilst being forthright in his views and never being afraid to speak his mind (particularly whilst striving for good striking), his dutiful, adaptable, resourceful and supportive approach particularly in the bellringing environment doesn't come along very often and will be missed. Some of his last few words were "Keep it together and don't give up".

Brynley Richards:

Eric was born in Birkinstyle, Derbyshire in 1930. He moved with his family to Morton, Derbyshire in 1935 and attended Morton Junior and Stonebroom Senior schools. He completed his 7 year apprenticeship to become a bricklayer and became site foreman in charge of several building sites, one of which was the building of a new swimming baths at Chesterfield. He continued working in the building industry and became a government Clerk of Works and was involved in building County Courts, in Derby, Nottingham and Leicester, various telephone exchanges and other buildings.

In 1946 William Swain of Morton taught Eric to ring a bell and he joined the newly formed band of teenage ringers at Morton Holy Cross Church. The teenagers were then left alone by their tutors and change ringing had to be learnt by reading "Ropesight" and other ringing books, and more importantly attending friendly practice nights at neighbouring churches, which were available every night each week. Bicycles were the usual means of transport to get to practice nights at neighbouring churches.

Eric and several ringers from Morton attended the AGM of the East Derbyshire and West Nottinghamshire Association (EDWNA) at Swanwick on Easter Monday 1950. A Tea was provided in the Church room served by a team of ladies including one young lady. After the tea, the young lady left the room alone and the Morton lads made a hasty departure attempting to follow her. Only Eric was successful in finding her. After courting her Eric married Joan Walvin at Swanwick in October 1954.

In May 1947, the Morton ringers were asked to ring for a Wedding at the Church on the 31st. It was decided that the ringers, including Eric, should attempt to ring a Quarter Peal after the Wedding. On the day the Q/Peal was successful. Two extents of Plain Bob Minor were rung. A first for all and my first as conductor. This success suggested an attempt to ring a full peal. This was arranged for the 1st August and included Kenneth Greaves, who was on leave from the RAF. On the day a peal in two methods was successfully rung. A first peal for all and first for me as conductor.

Eric served in the RAF for his National Service. Afterwards, Eric bought a plot of land in Swanwick and in his spare time he built his own house. When completed Eric and Joan spent the rest of their life together there. By this time he was ringing the bells at Swanwick and was made Tower Captain. He also fulfilled various offices in the local ringing societies and later was made a life member of both EDWNA and the Derbyshire Diocesan Asssociation (DDA). In 1967 Eric was made a member of ASCY. He briefly represented the EDWNA on the Central Council. Eric also gained a reputation for organising excellent ringing outings by coach. He rang 72 peals, 6 as conductor, 1 with the society, 47 for the EDWNA, mostly on 6 bells. I was also a member of the band at Morton which is where I met Eric and through our mutual interest in bell ringing we became lifelong friends. His legacy in bell ringing continues through his son John and grandson Edward. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.


Roger D R Brown

(Elected 1969, died 24th July 2020)

Andrew Wilby:

Roger was born in Liverpool and learned to ring there. He moved to Hertfordshire in the early 1960's and his ringing career took off at this point. He rang 177 peals of which 135 were tower bell peals conducting 5 and 42 in-hand conducting 3.

He was born in October 1935 in Liverpool North District and married Shelia Hackett from Walton-on-the-hill in 1958. They met through ringing, Shelia having learned to ring at Walton-on-the-hill soon after the bells were recast in 1949 and Roger was part of the new band that were taught in the early 50's at Liverpool Cathedral for the opening of those bells. Not a pedigree shared with many!

Roger came south to work for British Aerospace in Stevenage in the early 60's and they settled in Wheathampstead. Roger rang his first peal which was on handbells in 1963, conducted by Gerald Penney and thus started his peal ringing career, mainly for the Hertford County but 4 with the Society being 2 of Stedman Triples on the augmented 8 at Kimpton and 2 on the new 6 at Lemsford. Amongst his peals were 10 for the Firemen's Guild.

In the early 60's Roger became a volunteer part-time fireman. More than 1 handbell peal stopped abruptly when his pager went off. Brian Woodruff had moved to Wheathampstead at this time and peals of Spliced Plain Major became a standard part of the weekly programme. Subsequently the Browns moved to Harpenden with their two boys Simon and Edward, to the top of the road where I was living with my parents. There were a number of young ringers in and around Harpenden at the time, all destined to became infamous in their own way, such as Tony Carter, Peter Dale, A Stephen Taylor, Keith Walpole, Ken and Steve Darvill and Bob Hardy to name but a few and a lot of ringing was done in the area that Roger was part of. Peter Dale and I proposed him for membership in 1969.

Over the next decade the Harpenden band flourished under the leadership of Alan Paterson and you Master, supported by others such as David and Christine Darby, Charles Pocock and Bernard Taylor. Bernard led the Harpenden recasting project so that Hertfordshire now has at least enough good rings of bells to count on the fingers of one hand if you exclude your thumb! Roger was a stalwart member at this time but at some point Roger moved back to Wheathamstead and became a regular at Kimpton and Lemsford.

Whilst I saw Roger from time to time after I left Hertfordshire there will be others with far more recent memories of him. I last met him a few years ago when I casually dropped into a pub on Nomansland Common near Wheathampstead and found Roger propping up the bar. We spent a happy hour or two remembering all the things that went on in the St Albans District in those days - most of which could not possibly be mentioned here. Roger had a dry sense of humour although it wasn't limitless as I found out when I made a remark about a the firemen starting a fire-up in the peal we had just lost!

Roger was a fine and skilful ringer, he was very good company and very perceptive about the ringing characters in the area - and there were a lot! Coincidentally Sheila's funeral was only 5 days ago.

Roger was always good fun and it was a privilege to grow up in ringing in his company, also to propose him for membership and now sadly to pay tribute to his memory. May he rest in peace.