1932 - 2014

Valerie Carter (née Wallis) had been a member of the Kent Association since 1947. She joined as one of West Malling’s post war recruits which is where she remained for the rest of her life. It was during the first few years of her ringing that she rang her few peals. Peter and Frank Wright, Edna and Reg Sills amongst other youngsters, including my mum, formed the next generation of ringers who were beginning to make their mark. Valerie was soon to become secretary to West Malling’s band of ringers, a role that she continued with into the sixties and then later on in the eighties and nineties.

It was through ringing that she met Peter Carter a ringer from Marden. Friendship soon blossomed into ‘holding hands’ and ‘walking out together’. Eventually, during a branch meeting at Hunton, dad proposed to mum and the rest is, as they say, ‘history’. Marriage meant a brief stay at Marden vicarage where they rented a room for the first few months of their lives together but they were soon able to buy their first house in West Malling. This they named ‘The Ringers’ a name that they kept for all of their homes.

Despite Valerie’s early forays into peal ringing family life was to prevent her from spending as much time ringing as she had in the past. She supported Peter, who by this time had become tower captain at West Malling, in building a new band. By 1956 new ringers had been trained and Peter and Valerie had decided to introduce a new ringer of their own – me. Martin Howe recalls ringing his first rounds at a meeting at St Michael’s, Maidstone in June with both Valerie and me (I wasn’t born till November)! Even with the new family mum and dad would still attend Maidstone District meetings, branch outings as well as ringing twice on a Sunday at West Malling where mum was also a choir member.

Later my two sisters were born and they too were to follow in the family tradition. My parents were extremely proud of us as ringers and choristers. but always ensured that our education wasn’t hindered by our ringing. Consequently mum did not ring as much as she would have liked and therefore never rang more than what might be described as the basics. However she was a competent ringer and it was thanks to her that I was able to suddenly grasp the idea of ropesight for which I shall always be thankful.

When we had grown up and mum had the time to return to ringing her hip injury was to prevent her from standing for any length of time. This stopped her from ringing for longer periods of time. However she would ring on Sundays and for weddings when required. She would go to ringing meetings with dad but would usually spend her time painting rather than ringing.

When dad died 15 years ago mum decided that she would not ring any more as her hip was troubling her constantly. She was always interested in my ringing activities although she was always concerned that I might be doing too much. She always hoped that her grandchildren might take up the Exercise – but none did.

Valerie died peacefully in Maidstone hospital on the morning of 7th February in the 82nd year of her life. Peals were rung at Watton, Norfolk and St Michael, Maidstone, Kent. May she rest in peace.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers