1931 - 2012

mcu of JulianJulian was born on 30th October 1931 and passed away after bravely coping with a long illness on 16th April 2012.

Julian learnt to ring at Birstall in Leicestershire. The bells had been augmented to eight in 1948; and on 30th November 1954 he took part in the first peal on the eight which took 2 hours 49 minutes. This was Stedman Triples conducted by Harold Poole from Leicester Cathedral and was Julian’s first peal. He went on to ring about forty peals for the Leicester Guild of which twenty were at Birstall where he circled the tower. For many years he was Tower Captain at Birstall and also served on the District Committee from 1963 until 1969 including two years as Chairman. In addition to ringing he also served as Verger at Birstall for many years until moving to Bexhill in 1998.

Julian did say when we came to Bexhill that his ringing days were over but his wife Betty says, “I knew that would not be so. He enjoyed teaching people to learn to ring most of all and was very proud when they reached the dizzy heights that were beyond him – several of his pupils ring in our great cathedrals today”. He continued to do this at Bexhill.

On 22nd May 2004; the 50th Anniversary year of Julian’s first peal, he rang his last peal which was also Stedman Triples in 2 hours 49 minutes this was at Burwash Sussex, Tenor: 10 1/4 cwt almost the same weight as Birstall! After the peal during pealing down at Burwash a rope broke (not Julian’s), Julian assured us that that did not happen after his first peal.

Julian started work as an apprentice electrician; he then had to do his two years’ National Service. On his demob, as jobs were scarce at that time he applied to and was accepted to train and become a fireman. The fire service at that time was very happy to take on recruits who already had a trade, as tradesman firemen looked after the fire station they were attached to, Julian said however, that the trades unions eventually put a stop to this practice.

Among Julian’s other interests were water-colour painting and photography in both of which he was very accomplished.

Julian was a member of the Guild of Vergers; as well as being a ringer and verger he carried out several other duties at St Peter’s, Bexhill, some of them behind the scenes. He was a member of The Friends of St Peter’s; but he decided not to be on any committees. He was always on hand to give advice to anyone and hands on help too.

At his funeral on 3rd May within a congregation of 200 there were over thirty ringers present, it had been Julian’s wish that if possible Stedman would be rung; a course of Stedman Caters was duly rung. The choir played a major role in the service; one of the hymns that Julian had chosen was Angel Voices Ever Singing which was sung with feeling, and some of us felt that Julian was singing along with us.

There were three tributes to Julian’s memory; the following one was from a lifetime friend –Tony Bloxham from Leicestershire:

“We are saying farewell to a much loved and caring person and many here will have happy memories of Julian.

The number here is testimony to the high regard people have for him, many of you having come long distances to be here, and to encapsulate his significant life into a few minutes is an impossible task. I have probably known Julian longer than anyone present since we were born in the same road back in Birstall near Leicester. I even met Betty before Julian did since she has been a friend of my wife since school days.

However, back in those early days Julian was just a passing acquaintance – no specific friendship.

Julian started his working life as an electrician. Then came National Service and we were both in the Royal Signals at the same time, serving in different Regiments at Catterickin Yorkshire, and I recall spending very cold nights, huddled together under our great coats as we returned after weekend leave on unheated buses in mid-winter.

After National Service, continuing as an electrician didn’t work out and Julian joined the Fire Service where he remained for all his working life. He was always, and is still, known as “Jim” in the Fire Service, and apart from being Jim he was referred to as “The Master”, and he was especially known as a great joker. He was the one, when they were washing down after a call out, that would turn a hose onto the crew and start a water fight. He was the one, when they had to organise their own cooking during weekend duties, who kidded the new recruits that the beautifully crimped edge on the pastry was done with his false teeth. He was the one, when there was a serious water leak in the station, with water pouring through the light fittings, was called for as the electrician, to see what should be done; he stuck a bucket under the leak. But above all he was known as a first class fireman.

That’s a peep at his Fire Service time, and service has always been his watchword, for his has been a life of service wearing a variety of different hats – often several at the same time.

First of all his has been a life of great faith, and devoted, loving service to Christ.

A lifelong service to the scouting movement: from scout to leader and worked on county and national camps and jamborees.

A life of dedicated service to the noble art of bell ringing, completing many peals and was tower captain back in Birstall, a life of loyal service as a verger; and supporter of the Guild of Vergers.

Through all these differing aspects of his life there has been a selfless dedication in encouraging, supporting and helping people, practically, pastorally, by befriending and talking through difficulties – all done in an almost invisible way. An astute judge of character, “always see if they have clean shoes” when assessing a stranger, was his maxim!

I came to know Julian more when I retired from work twenty years ago and he invited me to join him every Wednesday doing maintenance jobs at the church, and through that a firm friendship developed. The maintenance team now consisted of three and we were soon dubbed “The Last Of The Summer Wine”, our 3rd member always wore a raincoat and a flat cap and was a natural for Clegg, I being tall was Foggy and Julian was of course Compo.

He was asked by the MU if we would entertain them at their Christmas party and he said “Yes”. We’d never done anything like that but, with his encouragement, we wrote a script and did a performance all suitably attired, he bought a jacket from a charity shop, dirtied it and ripped it for part of his Compo costume.

I recall one of the lines directed at Compo was “Can anything decent come in trousers like that”. We dug up a huge Christmas tree one year for the church and in true Last of the Summer Wine manner we all finished up on our backs with tree on top, helpless with laughter.

So it has been a full life and happy life shared with Betty, Richard, Vernisha, and his most recent delight, his grandson Daniel. He has been the friend of everyone, always wearing a smile, always aware of those less fortunate and a constant servant of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was with sadness that I did the farewell speech and presentation when he left Birstall church in 1998, it is with great sadness that I say farewell now to a true friend.

R.I.P. Julian”

Following the service at least 100 retired to the parish centre next to the church for refreshment, which gave Betty Morley an opportunity to thank everyone for coming and for all the cards and phone calls she had received.

We will all miss him greatly; it was a privilege to know him and to see his marvellous attitude to his forthcoming leaving of this world. R.I.P. Julian.

with thanks to CLIVE MOBBS for additional information

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