Obituaries

Clifford Walter John East

19th August 1922 – 14th June 2013

Cliff was born at Glebe Farm, Ludgershall, Bucks, the youngest child of George and Emily East. He grew up on the farm alongside his sister Phyllis and brothers Ken and Les. From the age of five he attended Ludgershall School and left aged only 14 to work on the family farm with his father and Ken. A few years later, Cliff and Ken were sent out to buy a new carthorse and came back with the first tractor seen in Ludgershall!

Cliff started ringing before the war at Piddington, Oxfordshire but, as he worked such long hours, his ringing time was limited. In 1956 he bought the farm which had previously been tenanted and it wasn’t until the late 1960s when he sold his milking herd that he had more time for ringing. He was a member of the Bicester branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild and rang at Piddington and Ludgershall where he later became tower captain, a position he held for over 30 years. Cliff also rang regularly at Bicester, Kirtlington where he helped train a new band of ringers, Long Crendon and Buckingham. Throughout the years he held various post within the Bicester branch including branch secretary, ringing master, branch representative, vice president and president. Cliff rang a total of 107 peals, numerous quarter peals and had rung at over 700 towers many of which were on outings he organised together with his daughter, Janet.

Family life was hugely important to Cliff. He married Phyllis in 1953 and they had two daughters, Janet and Valerie and, in time, all three became ringers. Three of his four grandchildren also ring, Mark Evans rings at Ludgershall and Kevin and Siân Haseldine are members of Skipton, North Yorkshire and Wokingham, Berks respectively. Right up until his death, Cliff read The Ringing World from cover to cover so he was always up to date with what they’d been ringing.

Cliff originally planned to retire at 50, however this took a little longer than planned and he eventually handed over the farm completely at the age of 87! After he found walking difficult he still somehow managed to get up on to a tractor so he could still work.

As he became older, ringing also became more and more difficult and, unfortunately, he was unable to ring for the last few years of his life. Phyllis died suddenly in December 2012, he missed her terribly and life became a huge challenge. However, with typical determination, he put on a brave face and managed to live alone with support. A quarter peal was rung in memory of Phyllis by the family, and he managed to sit by his open front door so he could hear the ringing. Cliff was a real character, he had a mischevious sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye and when family and friends visited he still managed to entertain them with his stories from the past!

A few days before he died, he had a lovely day out at Ludgershall Rectory Fête which he had really looked forward to. It was at the village whist drive two days later that he had a fall and broke his hip and he died in hospital four days later. His funeral was held at Ludgershall, the church was packed with family and friends including ringers, farmers and villagers, a wonderful celebration of a long and happy life.

JAN HASELDINE

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers