Obituaries

Sqr Ldr Ian James McDonald MA RAF (retd)

1947 - 2010

Ian McDonald learnt to ring at Ripon Cathedral in 1999 in response to the “Ring in the Millennium” Campaign. Following a distinguished career in the RAF Ian was looking for a hobby that challenged his intellect and appealed to his sense of tradition, so following a tour of the tower and bells at Ripon he duly signed up with the other Millennium recruits. Ian was fascinated by ringing and was a diligent and methodical student, he set himself high standards and consequently many may view his progress as somewhat pedestrian given the few quarter peals he rang. However, his approach produced a reliable and enthusiastic ringer, someone who was always striving to achieve and unwilling to accept second best. He was also very interested in the “hardware” and was a keen hands-on supporter of the augmentation to 12, he spent many long cold hours in the tower assisting the bell hangers during the project.

From the outset Ian enjoyed the social aspects of ringing, he was a pub regular after practice and rarely missed annual dinners and tours. He was a regular supporter of Cleveland and North Yorkshire Branch events, especially the monthly mid-week Wednesday practices which he enjoyed. He was also an accomplished long distance walker and local historian which made him a very interesting travelling companion on ringing tours. Trips to the Dales would be accompanied with captivating tales of the walks he had completed, often in the company of his brother. I remember a tour based in Ian’s native West Riding where he had an interesting story to tell about practically every landmark we passed. I told him that he should have been a teacher; he responded that he was … prior to joining the RAF.

On leaving the RAF Ian trained as an accountant and worked part time for a number of small companies in the Ripon area. When the position of treasurer for the cathedral bell ringers became vacant in 2001 Ian was a natural choice and he continued the role until his untimely death in October 2010. Ian was a meticulous treasurer; wedding fees were always available on time and in the correct coinage, and his presentation of the annual accounts at the ringers’ AGM was immaculate in every way. Under his stewardship the cathedral ringers were able to make a substantial contribution to the 12 bell augmentation appeal. He was also treasurer to the Ripon RAF Association and I gather his work there was just as careful and particular.

Unfortunately Ian became ill in 2009 and his health gradually deteriorated and he was eventually diagnosed with cancer early in 2010. He delayed chemotherapy as he was determined to finish his OU degree in French that was nearing completion; sadly complications occurred after the first dose. His funeral was held at Ripon Cathedral in October 20th and was well attended by representatives of the Ripon Cathedral band ,the Yorkshire Association, the RAF as well numerous friends and family. The 12 bells were rung half muffled by Ian’s many ringing friends prior to the service including some meticulous call changes – he would have approved. He is buried in a pretty location in Ripon cemetery appropriately near and within sight of the wartime RAF graves.

Ian you are greatly missed by your many friends – may you rest in peace.

MARTIN DAVIES

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers