Obituaries

Bernard Pollard

23rd February 1922 - 16th February 2011

Bernard was a member of the NW District, Suffolk Guild of Ringers from 1973. He rang his first peal at Rickinghall in 1978 and rang 16 peals for the Guild in all. Bernard’s funeral took place at Walsham-le-Willows on with bells rung muffled before the service and open afterwards. Richard Martineau gave an excellent appreciation of Bernard’s life from which, with his permission, I extract the following:

“Sometimes people personify a place. They may be politicians or rulers writers or painters. I am thinking of Wordsworth and the Lake District, or Constable and the Dedham Vale. Walsham is personified by Bernard. He represented everything that was best about the village.

There have been Pollards living in Walsham for at least three-hundred years. Bernard was born in the Guildhall in the Street in 1922. He joined the choir when he was five but is reputed to have been a ‘little terror’ and full of ‘devilment’ and this sense of fun never left him. It used to be that only the male members of the choir processed while the women sat in their pews. Bernard was not above winking at the girls as he went past.

When his voice broke he had to leave the choir but started helping to ring the bells. He attended all the practice nights and used to pull the fourth bell up into the ringing position and then let it down again when the session ended. The bells were silenced during the war (only to be used in the event of an invasion) but in 1970 a new team of ringers was recruited and Bernard was made Tower Captain. He went on to train many new ringers and oversaw the restoration of the bells in 1988.

A day or so after his death the tenor bell, the one he always rang, was tolled to mark his passing. It was rung firstly eleven times for a man and then eighty eight times for each year of his life.

Bernard was ‘called up’ in 1942. He was posted to India and served in Burma. He was ‘demobbed’ in 1946 and awarded the Burma Star. Bernard had kept a photograph by his bunk of a girl of whom he was fond and he married ‘Anne’ in 1946. Bernard worked for Mann Egerton for five years and the village firm ‘Clarkes of Walsham’ for 32 years.

Bernard was actively involved in almost every village institution but I think perhaps it was the Church which was the most important to him. He was elected to the Parochial Church Council in 1958 and three years later was made Churchwarden (a post he held until the end). He was the Church Treasurer for eleven years and a member of the Deanery Synod for ten.

In 1976 he was commissioned as a Lay Elder which meant that he could read Matins and Evensong. He was the organist for eighteen years and he only gave up winding the clock in 1995.

Bernard’s influence in Walsham ranged much wider than the church alone. He was Clerk to the Old Town Trust, which is one of the village charities, and a member and then Chairman of the Town Farm Trust which is the other. He was elected to the Parish Council in 1971 and was its chairman for 21 years from 1979. In the village he will always be remembered for his kindness and willingness to help anybody.

This all sounds as though his life was all work and no play. But that was not the case at all. He loved his garden and the land that he and his son Geoffrey farmed, but I think that chief joy was ‘picking up’ with his Black Labradors. He had up to four at any one time.

Bernard’s service to the community was recognised on two occasions by no less a person than the Queen. A few years ago he attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and in 2009 he was chosen to be one of the recipients of the Maundy Money that the Queen gave out at St Edmundsbury Cathedral.”

PAUL V. STANNARD

BB BellBoard
CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers