1927 - 2009

On Monday, 26th October St Cuthbert’s, Allendale was filled with people who had gathered to celebrate the life of Bert Bradbury, who died peacefully at home on 18th October. Born and bred in Hertfordshire, Bert attended Watford Grammar School and went on to Bristol University, captaining the 1st XI cricket teams for both institutions. Cricket, along with bell-ringing, was one of two lifelong passions and being English also a lifelong source of frustration. His studies were interrupted by national service during which he served in Greece and developed a lifelong love for the country, spending many holidays in the Greek islands later in life with his wife, Sheila, who he married in 1954.

Bert learnt to ring in 1943 as soon as bell-ringing was permitted again towards the end of the war, with the first written record of his ringing being in the visitors book of St Mary’s Rickmansworth when he rang in a band celebrating VE day. He lived much of his life in Rickmansworth, where he was a regular member of the congregation and holder of various offices, including that of churchwarden. In his years there he was ever present in the local band and ringing master for many years. It was thanks to his skills as a teacher that, following a decline in numbers, he was able to rebuild the band over the years of his tower captaincy. He taught many younger members of the church to ring (including myself) and made good use of the handbells in the tower to help teach us simple method ringing. A member of the Hertford County Association, he made every effort to attend Watford district meetings and in 1978 was elected HCA president.

In 1986 he took early retirement from his job with GEC and moved with Sheila to Allendale in Northumberland, an area they had fallen for on family camping holidays in the 1970s. They settled quickly into the routine of village life and soon became involved with the local church. It was no surprise when Bert became tower captain at St Cuthbert’s where regular ringing at the time was almost non-existent. His teaching skills were put to use again, this time mostly with older members of the congregation, and the bells are now rung regularly again.

Bert was not a great peal ringer, ringing 24 in total, the last being in September 2003 to celebrate his 60 years as a ringer. He rang over 200 quarters, many of which were for special occasions or to help the progress of ringers he was teaching. Although well able to ring spliced surprise major, surprise royal and Stedman on higher numbers, the composition of the bands he rang with meant that much of his ringing was of simpler methods, where emphasis was always placed on ringing to the best of your ability and achieving the best striking possible. He was a follower of the maxim that it was more important how you rang rather than what you rang.

The Rt Revd John Richardson, in his eulogy at Bert’s funeral, spoke of the golden thread of faith that wove its way through all the aspects of his life. His was a strong, quiet, secure faith which served as an example and inspiration to many over the years. He made a great impression in all the circles he moved in and the numbers present at his funeral paid testimony to the respect, affection, friendship and love felt for him by many.

Ringing before the funeral service was by a band of local ringers, most of whom he had taught, and he was laid to rest in Allendale cemetery to the sound of a touch of Stedman triples. The composition being rung was the same as that which he had heard from his bedroom the previous weekend, shortly before he died. A well struck quarter of plain bob doubles was rung following his funeral by a band consisting of his three sons, his niece, a member of the Rickmansworth band and a member of the Allendale band. A much loved husband, father and grandfather, he will be greatly missed.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers