1948 - 2010

David’s sudden death over the weekend of November 20th/21st came as a great shock to all of us in Worcester and beyond. He had lived alone for many years and probably the last conversation he had with anyone was in a telephone call from a local ringer at about 9pm on the Saturday evening. On most Sundays he usually shared a lunch with a friend in the flat below, but he did not turn up for it on the 21st. The alarm was raised the next morning and he was discovered to have died from a pulmonary embolism.

I had known David for some forty-five years and although we had occasionally talked about family matters I knew of no next-of-kin, and nothing could be discovered in his flat either that would help. In these circumstances the Local Authority makes the funeral arrangements, but Worcester City allowed me to co-operate in this and a funeral service was held at Worcester Crematorium on December 2nd. I had thought that with a service time of 9.30am on a very cold morning, and a memorial service at a later date, there would not be a high turnout, but some sixty of David’s friends and neighbours attended in spite of the weather.

Although I had always been careful to say that David had no known relatives I always qualified it by adding that there were probably some out there somewhere, and that proved to be the case. Just two days after the funeral I received a phone call from a lady in France who was a first cousin of David, and it was by sheer chance that she had heard about his death.

The memorial service was held at All Saints Church, Worcester, on December 13th, where David had learnt to ring in about 1963 and where, until his death, he had been Ringing Master since 1994, and I was privileged to deliver the eulogy. Mark Regan also paid a tribute on behalf of the cathedral ringers, which was followed by a course of Grandsire Triples on handbells by a Cathedral Guild band. There is always something special about a wellknown bellringer’s funeral or memorial service and this service was no exception. The attendance was about one hundred and twenty, with some having travelled many miles. There was good singing and a good spread to follow provided by the All Saints and Cathedral ringers and friends.

When I taught David to ring I was twice his age but as the years passed that difference decreased and we were close friends for many years. His first peal (which I conducted) was Grandsire Triples, rung at St John’s Worcester in 1965. He went on to ring 551 peals, his last being at All Saints in 2008. Of that total he rang in 127 at All Saints, many of them on the 10th with me next to him on the 9th. David was an excellent striker of his bell on any number; he was also very reliable and did not often make mistakes. He could also conduct, but although he called many quarter peals he had not conducted peals, except for one of Bob Minor. His peals also covered a wide variety of methods and, although most were rung within the local area, he would also travel and he and I rang in peals in places as far apart as Inverary and Truro, many of these having been arranged by the late Dennis Mottershead. David’s ear for good striking made him very useful as a judge for ringing competitions and that was something that we often did as a pair, and only a few weeks earlier we had judged the Tom Cooper Competition at Morville for the Hereford Guild. David had a good way with words and pithy expressions and he was always careful to deliver his adjudication in a tactful way so as not to cause hurt feelings.

Between 1972 and 1975, when we undertook the rehanging of All Saints’ bells in a new frame, David was one of the ‘gang of five’ who carried out most of the work in the tower. He also helped with similar work at other places, notably Upton Snodsbury where we removed the bells and old frame prior to their rehanging in a new frame. Most recently, he and I were engaged in preparing the tower and frame at All Saints to receive the new flat 6th bell which, at the time of writing, is about to be hung and it is a tragedy that he has not lived to see the fulfilment of this project.

As mentioned earlier, David was Ringing Master at All Saints. Until about 10 years ago he had also been a regular ringer at the Cathedral and had been the Cathedral Guild secretary in earlier days, but having developed a hernia (which he would never get repaired) he had to give up ringing on those especially heavy bells. Within the Worcestershire Association and its Western Branch he had held offices for most of his time. He had been Peal Secretary, Branch Master, Branch Chairman (always conducting meetings with his usual good humour) as well as being a member of the Association’s Central Committee.

David had many other interests too, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of many subjects which made him a very useful member of a quiz team. Among these were the natural world - especially butterflies and moths – coin collecting, Egyptology, railways, films and television - especially Dr Who! He was also a reader for The Talking Newspaper for the Blind, a monthly task that he had been doing for many years. As a person, David was one of the most friendly people you could meet, and rarely judgmental or critical. The appreciation of all that David’s life had meant to so many was very evident in the donations made in his memory which, including Gift Aid, amounted to about £500 for the Association’s Belfry Repairs Fund and £200 to the Talking Newspaper.

DAVID BEACHAM


David was a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths and the following is taken from Chris Pickford’s tribute that was read out at the Society’s December meeting.

At King’s School, Worcester, we had a school ringing society. David had originally been recruited into ringing by his housemaster, Hugh Neill. He was three or four years above me and was a leading member, actively teaching new recruits and helping with Paul Cattermole’s belfry repair squad. There is a picture of us in 1967 at work in the belfry at St Swithun’s. After the repairs were completed I rang my first quarter there; David was in the band.

At school, there were signs of those eccentricities that characterised him in later life. “Bellringers can’t be normal”, someone once taunted me, “Franklin rings doesn’t he?” But David was successful at school, both academically – as a scientist – and also as someone respected for his reliability, loyalty and ability to get on with others. Sadly, early success in life was not to be David’s later on. At work, he never really found his niche. At home, he led a solitary existence always rather on the edge Yet in ringing he both excelled and found fulfilment as a competent method ringer, good striker and able heavy-bell ringer. He rang regularly in peals at Birmingham Cathedral for a while – always a measure of capability and respect.

He was also deeply interested in ringing history and heritage – Worcester having been quite a strong centre of ringing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and as a result of his researches he has left us beautifully produced records of past performances there. Naturally we shared this interest, and in recent times I have enjoyed and learned from fascinating conversations with him on the subject. David was an individual, a character, who will be much missed – but fondly remembered too. Ringing, and Worcester ringing in particular, will be the poorer for his passing.

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers