1923 - 2013

Michael Frost of Drayton, Norfolk, died on 8th June. A service of thanksgiving for his life and work took place on 2nd July in his beloved parish church of St Margaret, Drayton, just across the road from the hall in which we had celebrated his 90th birthday just a few weeks earlier.

It was in 1966 that Michael decided that Drayton needed a proper ring of bells, replacing the three ancient bells hanging in the tower. His enthusiasm and determination led to the successful completion of the project, culminating in the dedication of the new ring of six in February 1967. And it is a tribute to his vision that those bells are still rung regularly, with the local band including some members who first learned to ring in those early days.

Already in his mid-40s, Michael was by then a seasoned businessman, engaged in the buying and selling of malted barley, and moving easily between the worlds of farming and brewing and distilling. He had a sharp eye for a good deal, and was a formidable but highly professional and persuasive negotiator. These skills were put to good use in the Drayton bells project, with the metal bell frame largely supplied and installed by generous cooperation from local builders and engineers, and the bell metal required for augmentation from three to six acquired from four bells from a neighbouring parish. The new bells were cast and installed by Whitechapel, who also recast the original 15th century tenor after a couple of years. Michael was inordinately proud of a letter from Whitechapel pointing out that if they were pressed to undertake all their projects on such challenging terms, they would soon be out of business.

During the installation period, Michael and his wife Ella hosted the Whitechapel bellhanger Trevor Bailey, and this led to a lifelong friendship. Michael followed Trevor’s advice on how to establish a thriving local band, and post-practice gatherings, outings and an annual dinner were soon established. An initial group of learners had been taught before the dedication under David Cubitt’s careful eye at St George, Colegate in Norwich, and were able to ring rounds at the dedication service. Further help from Norwich over the next two years established method ringing at Drayton, and Michael and two of his fellow ringers scored their first peals in 1969. Michael went on to ring 26 peals in total between 1969 and 1986, mainly for the Norwich Diocesan Association, but some also for the Suffolk Guild and the Kent County Association. Michael was elected to the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1971, and was extremely proud of the two peals he rang with the Society. He attended many of the Society’s annual dinners, and a number of country meetings, including one in Dublin.

At the service of thanksgiving, tributes to Michael’s memory were offered by his two sons, Charles and Richard, and these were followed by an address from Revd Janet House, who was in Michael’s first peal in 1969. Together, these contributions painted a rich picture of a long life, well lived. Michael’s brave and distinguished active service in the Royal Air Force during World War II preceded a satisfying career in a business he loved, rooted in the East Anglian countryside. Over nearly 60 years, Michael and Ella’s home at Drayton has been the focus for happy family life, and a place offering warm hospitality to many. Michael’s many friends valued his loyalty, his honesty and integrity, his generosity, and his forthright contributions to many conversations. We are the richer for knowing him, and mourn his passing, sending our best wishes to Ella, Charles and Richard.


BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers