Obituaries

David Collins

1926 - 2010

David, who was tower captain at Manuden for about thirty or so years, died at home, surrounded by his family, on 14th September in his 85th year. His death, though not unexpected (he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer about eighteen months previously), has left his many ringing friends with a deep and keenly felt sense of loss.

He was taught to ring at Harlow Common in the 1940s, it is believed, and was a listed member of the band there until the mid 1960s. The compulsory purchase of the family farm in the early days of the, then, Harlow New Town saw the dispersal of David and his brothers to pastures new and he settled at a farm in Manuden. A break from ringing of several years ensued.

It was a request for more ringers at St Mary’s Manuden in the 1970s that rekindled his interest. The tower at that time housed five bells and it wasn’t long before he came to appreciate how the addition of another bell would increase ringing enjoyment. Thus he set about with an enthusiastic will to raise finance and was very successful in obtaining many donations within the village.

1983 saw the achievement of the augmentation and re-hanging in a new frame, which David had made, with advice from the foundry and bellhanger, in his farm workshop. The first peal on the bells in December 1983 was also his first peal.

Practice nights and quarter peals were David’s chief delight in ringing but he did ring a further twelve peals. Of these the highlights were a peal of Uttlesford Delight Major at Hatfield Broad Oak in 1992 which was sponsored for St Clare’s Hospice, this being his nominated charity during his year as chairman of Uttlesford District Council; in 1990 the first peal for the West Anglia Guild of which he was a founder member; his last peal, fittingly, was at Manuden to celebrate his eightieth birthday in 2006. He continued taking part in quarter peals up to the end of 2009, his last being in December for the birth of his third great grandchild.

In addition to his great work for the bells at Manuden he provided much valued assistance, both physically and in helping to teach learners, for the augmentation and rehanging of the bells at Henham and Matching.

A keen supporter of ringing in the North-Western District of the Essex Association, he served a year as Committee Rep. in 1995. He generously hosted a number of events for the district, in its fund raising efforts for the BRF, at Saucemeres Farm which was particularly suitable for barn dances and barbecues.

At his funeral, which he had planned himself, family members read passages from the Bible and poems he had wanted to be used for the occasion and so too the hymns were his choice. The church was filled to overflowing with his many friends from the farming community, former local council colleagues, sporting friends and ringers. As he had requested, the bells were rung half-muffled, with general ringing before the service, the tenor tolled as the cortege approached the church and again for the procession to the graveside. A quarter peal was rung immediately following the interment (Ringing World No.5190 p.1041). As the Vicar commented in the next month’s parish magazine – a fitting tribute to a gentleman farmer and campanologist.

The peal rung at Manuden, in David’s memory, was delayed until May 2011 due to work to install a ringing gallery and toilets in the church. David had been a driving force behind the plans to create these and it is regrettable that he died before he could see the splendid facilities that have now been completed.

CLIVE MOORE

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers