Obituaries

Geoffrey Cheetham

30th January 1935 - 20th July 2011

Geoff was taught to ring by Derek Sanderson at Cross Stone, Todmorden in the early 1950s. He did his National Service in the late 50s at RAF Locking in Somerset but never got to fly. Instead, he was trained in electronics which enabled him to obtain work with Ferranti in Oldham when he was demobbed. His work for them took him to many different places in this country and also briefly to Singapore.

He joined the Rochdale Branch of the Lancashire Association of Change Ringers on the 8th January 1955 and over the following years undertook a number of jobs for the branch, particularly as Secretary from 1965 to 1970 and as Chairman from 1982 to 1985. For many years he was the tower captain at Christ Church, Todmorden where he taught many ringers, myself included. To his dismay, the church became redundant in 1989 and the bells were removed and transferred to become the back 8 of the new 12 at Towcester. At that time he transferred his allegiance to Heptonstall where he rang until about 2006.

Geoff was always keen on visiting other towers and went on many bellringing outings and holidays. He never kept records of the towers he visited, but must have been to more than 4,000. He could easily remember details of many of these outings. He was not a prolific peal ringer but rang a total of 114 ranging from Minor to Maximus, of which he called one. These were rung for a number of different societies, but mostly for Lancashire. He always strove for and enjoyed good striking. He also enjoyed a challenge, his favourite methods being Glasgow and London No.3 Royal.

Geoff was also a connoisseur of beer and always had his Good Beer Guide handy. Many was the time when he said “I am just going to listen to the bells outside”, which usually meant that he was nipping to the pub next door to sample their delights. He enjoyed a good party, particularly when there was a good sing song around the piano in which he always partook with gusto. He also enjoyed canal holidays, particularly when these were linked to ringing and pubs.

Although Geoff had not rung in recent years, he still retained an interest in ringing and particularly the Unitarian Church in Todmorden where his funeral was held. Unfortunately, the bells there are very difficult to ring at the moment, although this will hopefully change in the not too distant future thanks to Geoff’s very generous legacy.

Geoff was certainly one of ringing’s characters and he will be sorely missed.

BRIAN OWEN

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers