A Reminiscence

Over the past few weeks I have read with interest the tributes paid to Paul following his death. The most recent, by David Beacham in the 6th November issue of The Ringing World, interested me because it related, in part, to the period when Paul first moved from Norfolk to Droitwich with his parents.

My brother, Jimmy Pullon, and I both attended Bromsgrove High School and were also choir members at St Mary-de-Wyche, Wychbold. The then Vicar, Revd A. E. Walters, approached Paul with a view to increasing bell ringers at the church. The result was that, in addition to my brother and I being recruited to learn, five other choir members also joined and, later, my father, J. E. A. Pullon. He had a car, so on some of the longer journeys we made, my father could take us.

Paul not only taught us but fired us with his enthusiasm. Most importantly, he impressed on us the ability to ring properly and to listen to our bells so that we achieved good striking. I still don’t recall even now how he taught us to ring method, but he did. We travelled around the area, mostly on our bikes, although occasionally by car/motorbike as well as train, visiting other towers for practice nights. We were also encouraged to attend formal meetings, which some of us did. Much of our ringing was at six bell towers, although we did go to the practice at Hanbury (8) most weeks, where the Vicar, Revd Birch, his wife and son (John) were ringers too. We did trips out of the area staying at YHA hostels, the last one being for about 10 days in 1960 when we covered parts of Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. A number of the six bell towers we visited on those trips are local to where I live now, including Sandford St Martin and Rousham.

Martin and Michael Fellows who rang at Stourbridge, rang regularly with us and, in fact, were in the band when Jimmy and I rang our first peal at St Peter-de-Witton, Droitwich in November 1959. The “believed youngest band” peal mentioned by David Beacham, comprised Paul, Martin and Michael, Peter Brown, Jimmy and me. I recall that we also rang a peal at Broadwas (5) in April 1960 (which didn’t include Peter) which we thought at the time may have had a slightly lower average age than that rung at Wychbold. I think the peal and quarter peal challenges were part of what helped to keep us motivated and, of course, we did enjoy what we were doing. The last peal I ever rang at Old Swinford, in July 1960, of Single Canterbury Pleasure Bob Minor was John Eisel’s first, the band including Paul, Martin and Jimmy, and Yvonne Edwards.

A couple of other memories I have of Paul relate to Bromsgrove High School. When I was in the sixth form doing a secretarial course, Paul obtained permission from the Headmaster, Mr Keyte, to join the shorthand classes. Presumably he felt it might be a useful skill to learn for his future career. He therefore joined the class of about 12 girls, when his normal timetable permitted. I also recall that on the day Prince Edward was born in November 1960, we went to the Headmaster to ask whether the bell ringers in the school could leave early in order to ring (at Bromsgrove, I believe) to celebrate the birth. This request was granted, so we were allowed out of school early.

As you may be able to tell, this was a time which I remember with great fondness for it holds many happy memories which I still treasure. Alas, I am the last survivor of the ‘youngest band’ peal. Michael and Peter died some time ago, my brother, Jimmy, died in February last year about the same time as Martin, and now Paul has departed. I last spoke to Paul when he was in hospital in London last year, and we reminisced about those memorable times and the fun we’d had. Even though I stopped ringing in 1963, when I married and subsequently lost contact with him, when I returned to ringing in 2004, I tracked him down via the internet and, as a result, our friendship was renewed.

Paul Cattermole was obviously a special person to so many other people besides Barbara, his wife and two daughters. On a personal note, Paul gave me the ability to ring which, even in my senior years, I have been able to use and enjoy. Although my ringing is limited now, I was fortunate and privileged to ring in a quarter peal at Rousham at the end of August, which also remembered Paul.

HEATHER HUGHES

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