1912 - 2010

Jack was born on 10th August 1912. He was the youngest child of William and Laura Sims. His mother died when he was 5 years old and Jack spent some time in foster care until his father remarried. He left school at 14, as most people did at that time, and started work for the Plymouth Water Authority. One of his first tasks was the provision of fresh water to the Plymouth fishing fleet. He progressed through the ranks and finished his career as an inspector going out at night listening to the stop cocks for leaks. He retired from his post in 1977.

Jack joined the choir at Charles Church, Plymouth mainly because his father pumped the organ at the church. When his voice broke he gave up the choir and volunteered to take up bell ringing in 1927.

The Vicar at Charles Church used to give two parties a year, one for the bell ringers and one for the choir. It was at one of these events that Jack first met Phyllis who was working at the vicarage as a cook. They were married in 1938 at Charles Church which was one of the last weddings with bells before the war. The marriage lasted 63 years until Phyllis’ death in 2001.

During the war Jack took custody of the tower keys as the Tower Captain, who was in the Territorial Army, had been called up. Some ringing practices did take place during the War, but the bells were tied so as to make no sound. He went down to Charles Church the morning after the Blitz but for safety reasons was prevented from entering the burned out church by the police and firemen. He didn’t visit again.

During the War Jack was out and about during the bombing raids helping to keep the supply of water going which was so vital in putting out the fires. Although he was not called up, partly on medical grounds, he was certainly on the front line.

After the War he and Phyllis joined Emmanuel Church; how much this was to do with Emmanuel having a ring of 8 bells we don’t know. Emmanuel’s tower captain died during the War and there was no one amongst the combined group from Emmanuel and Charles Church who was capable at that time of leading the band. Harry Myers, the tower captain from St Andrew’s, took the practices until Jack had sufficient experience to take over as tower captain. After organising the ringing for many Sunday services and for weddings he retired from the role when he was 80 after almost 40 years.

Jack was an active member of the Guild of Devonshire ringers and was elected as a Vice President in 1969 and held the office of Guild Master in 1981.

In 1953 Jack rang his first peal as conductor (Grandsire Triples), and 45 years later he rang his last quarter peal. Grandsire Doubles was rung for Ted Bickle on his 80th birthday and Jack was most insistent that he rang in his friend’s first quarter peal. In his ringing career Jack had travelled and rung bells all over the country; he had rung at most of the churches in Cornwall and Devon and had been to many of the London churches as well.

Jack had a life-long involvement with the church and was a faithful member of the Emmanuel fellowship for many years, being a regular attender on Sundays until very recently. He stopped ringing when the stairs became too much but always had a comment on the choice of method and the standard of the ringing.

Jack’s funeral took place on 25th June and was attended by family, friends and ringers including current office holders of the branch, the Guild President and five Vice-Presidents. The bells were rung open both before and after the service and later in the day his family all went up the tower to see ‘where great-granddad rang’. Some of the Emmanuel band were joined by his daughter and two grandchildren and the bells were rung again with the rest of the family watching.


[see also An appreciation]

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