17th February 1934 - 5th February 2015

Mike died a few days short of his 81st birthday. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer for sometime but his condition deteriorated seriously over Christmas and New Year and he died in Dorchester Hospital. His funeral service took place at St Nicholas parish church, Child Okeford on 26th February. The large congregation of family and friends was led by Mike’s brother, Preb. Christopher Marshall. Half-muffled ringing preceded the service with village ringers and family both taking part. He was laid to rest in the churchyard.

One of six children, Mike was a clergyman’s son. His father was a steam engine enthusiast and built himself a seven and a half inch gauge track in his last Rectory. The engineering gene passed on! Mike also learned to ring in his youth. Mike went to school at St John’s Leatherhead and his brother Christopher tells that Mike “tolerated” his time there. Later he did his National Service in the army and with his battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry served in the Malayan campaign. On demobilisation he learned both wood and metal work. He became a teacher and imparted his skills to pupils at various schools.

Having raised his own children, he and Val first met by ‘assignation’ in Salisbury Cathedral. This first meeting flowered into a happy marriage and in 1996 he and Val moved to Millbrook Cottage in the Dorset village of Child Okeford. Mike was a loving family man to his large and ever expanding family. He and Val also shared a Christian faith that was a continuing theme in their married life. Val’s singing in the choir and Mike’s ringing were just part of their contribution to worship there.

On moving to Millbrook Cottage Mike built himself a workshop adjacent to the house and this rapidly became a gathering place for steam enthusiasts. A highlight was the splendid ‘roll out’ and ‘steam up’ of his leaf green articulated Garrett engine, an exact copy of a 1903 original. Villager Ewan Pinsent was one of his ‘novice’ engineering pupils. Ewan recalls that Mike took him on “under his tutelage” to make “a 1¼ inch steam engine for my grandchildren”. “So began a relationship of conversation and laughter was well as the nitty gritty of metal engineering. At the conclusion of some piece of precise work Mike would straighten up and hold the item up. In his pleasure he would draw in his breath against his teeth. I think we both realised that here was a moment of ‘gift’.”

It was also about this time that Mike ‘returned’ to ringing. He was always modest about his ringing achievements but for someone who only started ‘serious’ method ringing late in life he achieved a lot. He rang a number of peals, including inside to fourteen Doubles methods and his quarter peal total was in the hundreds (I rang 149 with him), including Plain Bob Major and Grandsire Triples inside. Before his illness he was ringing and learning Stedman Triples and Surprise Minor. As well as being a loyal and valued member of the Child Okeford band, he helped out at other local towers, offering assistance in teaching and bell maintenance and was a member of the Salisbury D.G. He was a regular attendee at Blandford practice nights and at ‘Tuesday mornings’ at the Bryanston Ringing Centre. He and Val were also famously hospitable to ringers – ‘come and ring a quarter’ he would ring up and say and then you would wait for the magic words ‘and come back for a meal afterwards’. Val is a marvellous cook – and Mike’s contribution – freshly ground coffee (warm the mugs!) and superb custard!

There has been much ringing for Mike since his death: three quarters in Cumbria, four in Bournemouth (by the Second Wednesday Group, of which Mike was a member), three in Somerset and four others in Dorset, including a quarter of Grandsire Triples at Blandford on the evening of his funeral and a half-muffled quarter of Plain Bob Minor at Child Okeford the day after. Also, a peal rung at Sampford Spiney in Devon on 7th February (see p.233) was rung in memory of Mike.

We remember Mike as skilled engineer and as a keen bell ringer. However most of all we remember Mike’s friendship, sense of humour, patience and generosity. As his brother said at his funeral, he was not perfect, none of us are, but he was as close as anyone is likely to get.


(Thanks to the Reverend Ewan Pinsent for the use his appreciation and address and to the family for the photograph of Mike)

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