20th July 1934 - 14th June 2013

Fred was born and grew up in Woodchurch Kent, where he attended the local school during the Second World War. I can remember him telling me all about the dog fights of the aircraft of that time over this southerly part of Kent. When the war was over he was taught to ring at All Saints at Woodchurch by his father. It was not long after that he and his father, Ernest Town, taught a band of ringers there.

Fred had a few jobs in his life, agriculture, horticulture, lorry driver, wholesale greengrocer driver/salesman before working at Kench Hill. This was an activity type of centre owned then by the G.L.C. where Fred worked as a gardener/ handyman where he stayed until age forced him to retire. He enjoyed his work there so much that it was with sadness he had to retire. This did not stop Fred from working, he was always busy after his official retirement, helping anybody who needed a hand.

Fred met and married Alison and had two daughters Janice and Heather. He lived for a while on the outskirts of Wittersham, where he could hear the bells on a Sunday and on Tuesday practices but never ventured up. He moved around Kent a bit as work dictated before eventually coming to live at Appledore

I personally never knew Fred until the late 1990s when I went to a local practice at Appledore on a Friday evening where Fred turned up. Roy, who was then the local tower captain, asked Fred if he was a ringer and as the answer was yes, Roy asked him to raise a bell. Fred then admitted that although he was a ringer he had not touched a bell rope for many years and felt he may be a bit “rusty.” I stood with him just in case of any difficulty but I need not have bothered; he raised the bell as if he only rang yesterday.

In those days practice at Appledore was rather spasmodic and it was suggested that the practice at Wittersham was more regular and Fred joined the Wittersham band, but he was still helping out at Appledore as and when required. He never really got to grips with change ringing and preferred rounds and call changes, providing the changes were called in the way his father did, like telephone numbers. Fred was an extremely good tenor ringer to doubles and triples methods, keeping a good even beat and rang a few quarter peals. He was a great asset to any tower, always there for practice and Sunday service ringing, which he classed as the “important” ringing.

Fred had some considerable sadness in the last fifteen years of his life. His beloved wife Alison died very suddenly and just after he had overcome that his eldest daughter Janice was diagnosed with cancer which unfortunately was terminal. He had just got over the great shock of losing his wife and daughter when he rang for a carol service at Wiitersham one evening, to go home and find his little dog had died in its bed.

Fred carried on ringing until shoulder trouble prevented him from ringing for a while and had made bit of a come-back earlier this year. He wound the clock at Appledore for several years before he found it too much and reluctantly gave it up last autumn. He was going shopping one morning when he collapsed, he never regained consciousness and died on 14th June.

Appledore church was full for the service of celebration and thanksgiving of his life. The bells were rung open by his many ringing friends he had made locally in this southerly corner of Kent and from just over the Sussex border. A wonderful fitting tribute for a very quiet and unassuming man. Fred, may you rest in peace.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers