Obituaries

Ronald Edward Miers

1942 - 2011

Ron Miers, ringer at St. David’s, Bangor, Gwynedd, died very suddenly on 12th September in Scotland. His funeral service, attended by many North Wales ringers, was held at St. Cyngar’s Church, Llangefni, Anglesey and was followed by cremation at Bangor. The choice of church was appropriate since, as well as its being near to Ron’s home, during the previous year or so Ron with others had been training ringers at this church, and the bells were rung for him.

Jill Danby, current Ringing Master of the NWACBR, writes:
“Ron was tower captain at St. David’s, Bangor for many years and a loyal supporter of ringing in the Gwynedd area. He was modest about his own ability as a ringer, but allowed himself to be persuaded to stand as Ringing Master of the NWACBR in 2003, when the previous master retired from the post. NWACBR is not an easy ringing society to administer, as the towers are so far apart, being mainly round the coast and down the border between England and Wales. We only have four meetings a year and good communication is vital. Ron managed to keep everyone ‘in the loop’ with efficiency and good humour. He decided to stand down in 2008, to devote more time to his family and to his second love, fly-fishing. Ron was one of the unsung heroes of ringing in rural areas – always there to help others, cheerful, unassuming and determined to keep the bells ringing on Sundays. He was very enthusiastic about the current initiative to re-hang Bangor bells and was the project’s treasurer. He was always supportive of the association and helped me unfailingly. His sudden death saddened us all and he will be much missed.”

Ron took up ringing in 1985/6 at Hallow, just outside Worcester, when he was forty three years old. He made up for this late start with enthusiasm and became a regular visitor at other practices in the district, particularly at Worcester All Saints, at Suckley, and at Clifton-on-Teme where the late Richard (Dick) Speed was tower captain. Dick Speed was notoriously impatient with learners but Ron obviously got on well with him, and indeed particularly invited him to ring in his (Ron’s!) first peal, Bob Minor on the musical 16cwt six at Withington. (I am grateful to David Beacham, who was also in the band, for these details.)

Ron was not a frequent peal ringer but rang three more on home ground before moving to North Wales in 1993. Here he rang ten more peals, mainly of Plain Bob on 5, 6, 7 and 8 bells, 3-method doubles, Grandsire Triples, and Cambridge Major on treble. He also rang a steady stream of quarters, especially in recent years, in a variety of plain and surprise methods.

Not a chatterer, Ron seldom talked about himself, so many of us were surprised to learn after his death that before he was a ringer he had been a very active glider pilot! Peter Salisbury, who was a young and recently solo-ed pilot at the same flying club in the late 1960’s writes:
“Keith Mansell (who was Chief Flying Instructor then and is President now) and I both remember him as an active and proficient gliding instructor, someone who was very pleasant to be with, whether in the air, supervising ground operations or in the clubhouse. It was to much acclaim and goodwill (and some envy) that he married Liz Nicholls (as she then was), with whom a group of early solo pilots, including myself, used to compete to get a launch in a club single seater, followed by much discussion in the bar as to who gained the most height! They were fun days, in which Ron and Elizabeth were valued participants.” Recently Ron flew once more for old times’ sake, and when they landed his companion said, “Well, you’ve not forgotten anything!”

Ron’s constant delight was fly-fishing. In Snowdonia he fished the rivers which flow west to the sea, and Robin Parry, the chairman of his angling club, said of him:
“I have had many conversations with Ron under the trees at Glan Gwna on the River Seiont, as well as many e-mail updates after almost every outing. He will be missed by club members and particularly so on the riverbank. Very few anglers were as enthusiastic in their salmon fishing as Ron, and of course not many were anything like as successful. He was liked and respected by many of the younger club members, would happily share the secrets of his success, and also congratulate others in turn on their successes. Ron’s persistence and his sometimes leisurely and deliberate manner, whether fishing or discussing club matters, made him recognisable to all. I will remember him as he was in a photo I took of him last year, casting expectantly beside the river.”

Ron also fished further afield. His eyes would gleam at a mention of Ireland, but his other main fishing water was in Scotland, where he was a member of a salmon-fishing syndicate on the River Orchy near Dalmally. Sir James MacGrigor, a fellow member, commented that Ron was one of their best fishermen, and that he had caught the biggest fish ever to be caught there by a syndicate member.

He spent his last day on the River Orchy, though he caught nothing. (This is less surprising than it might appear. At the time the weather had been very wet, the burns, rivers and lochs were in flood, and brown water and foam roared downhill everywhere. Any fish out in a river would be fighting the current rather than looking for flies!). In the evening the syndicate members gathered for drinks before eating, but as they moved towards the table Ron simply fell to the floor, already dead. There are many worse ways to die.

In all his many activities Ron was calm, kind, helpful, patient, efficient and skilful. He will be greatly missed by many friends in many places.

DONALD R. MARSHALL

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers