Northleigh F.E. (Jim) Reeve was born in Christchurch and lived there for all his life except the war years. His mother was a skilled musician and passed this love on to Jim, who played the piano and violin. He was a member of the Church of Christ but was introduced to bellringing by George Claydon, the then master of the ringers who was in an orchestra to which Jim also belonged. He continued ringing until the last few months. Jim was enthusiastic for good ringing and achieving the best; he supported the Society in every way he could over time as master, deputy, secretary and treasurer. He was likewise very enthusiastic when ANZAB was being formed. Hearing about it on a visit to Australia, he took it up as a self-appointed ambassador endeavouring to persuade (usually successfully) all the ringers he met and their societies to join up. In later years, having been made a life member of the Cathedral Society, he was made a life member of ANZAB.

Jim left school at 15 as many did in those difficult times, took up a job with a leading NZ shirt manufacturer and, apart from 1940-46, continued with that firm until retirement in 1979. While there he met a certain young lady who likewise had joined the business. As war came nearer he joined the territorials, then enlisted and trained and a month before going overseas he and Pat were married. He saw service from Alamein through the North African Campaign and on to Italy until the end. He always remembered his comrades, becoming a faithful member of the RSA and marking ANZAC day at the parade and helping with the ringing.

When he returned home he and Pat settled into family life, he took up an apprenticeship that led to management with his firm and charge of a secondary workplace. Resuming ringing, he was a welcome addition to a weakened band that in time, 1950, was joined by Bert Lancefield from Kent who had spent a period in Perth. They, Jim included, rang a peal of minor, the first in NZ (on tower bells) since 1903, and one of doubles on Papanui bells (then 5) which Bert had managed to
get ringable, the first on the bells. When the bells at Hamilton were opened (1950) the Christchurch band was invited and Jim rang in the opening peal, and rang again in the first peal on the heavy eight of the Cathedral, in 1965 and yet again in the first on the new Cathedral ring in 1981.

When ringing revived at Papanui and the ring was augmented to six, Jim rang there, as well as the Cathedral and, when he retired, Pat decided that “If you can’t beat them, join them” and took up ringing, much to his delight. They also decided to move to a smaller house, finding one just halfway between the two towers. When it was decided to augment to eight bells Jim, using his business acumen, took part in the fund raising, organising “garage sales” etc. Jim was always welcoming to visitors and to young ringers who came to live here for a time, many of who enjoyed his and Pat’s hospitality, keeping in touch and ready to help, if needed, in any way he could.

In retirement Jim and Pat made a tour of the UK, visiting many towers, particularly those of friends he had made and, visiting London, became a College Youth and rang at Westminster Abbey, which was the highlight of his trip.

Bob Bennett

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers