1943 - 2012

By the time I got to meet and know Roger some 5 or 6 years ago, he was already a very competent ringer, although how someone, who was totally blind from the age of 2, managed to learn how to handle a rope and control a bell so well, I cannot begin to imagine. But that was Roger, and it was not only bell ringing that he mastered, for he was an enthusiastic cyclist, with his brother Pete on a tandem, as a member of The Fat Wasters cycling group; he was also to be seen frequently rowing on the Avon in Warwick. As a ringer, he was, of course, a connoisseur of real ales and pubs, and he did not neglect fine wines either! He also sang in the local Leamington choir – The Village Voices.

Roger was indeed a quite remarkable person. He was always polite, considerate and totally reliable, and, most importantly, he was a good mediator – that’s always helpful in a bell tower! For me, it was a privilege to have known him, and for the past few years to have driven him to and from Kineton for the regular Monday evening practices.

Roger enjoyed very much to ring at Kineton, where he got the opportunity to ring Cambridge Minor, as well as a number of other methods. One of his first visits coincided with the early days of the simulator there, and Roger was invited, at the end of the practice, to have a go on the simulator ringing Grandsire Triples. To my ears, his performance was faultless, and he drew a round of applause from all of us who stayed behind to listen. I guess that ringing with the simulator was easier for Roger than ringing with the rest of us on open bells!

There will, I’m sure, be many amusing stories concerning Roger in the ringing chamber, but I will recount just one. We were ringing at Kineton, when Graham Nabb had cause to (dare I say it) shout at one of the ringers who was out of place. This went on for quite a while, till Roger requested Graham quite firmly to be quiet as he couldn’t hear the bells properly; fortunately Graham took this reprimand very well! This was typical of Roger, and there were any number of occasions, when he sought to correct an errant ringer, but this could never be with malice, as he did not of whom he was talking. They were valuable lessons if you were on the receiving end.

Roger’s favourite method was probably Grandsire Triples, but I always felt that his finest achievement was to ring a course of Cambridge Major – some going, when you cannot see. It was his hope to ring a “quarter” with a team made up of blind ringers, but he was not able to achieve this ambition.

Not once in the many times we were together did I hear Roger complain about his blindness, and he was happy enough to talk quite openly about it, as he was with his cancer, when this came back to him. He retired from his lecturing post at Warwick University last year, and he had all kinds of activities planned – not least holidays in Gambia and the USA. I was looking forward to hearing about them, but unfortunately these holidays were not to be.

Like many others, I was deeply saddened by his premature passing. I spoke on the phone to him the day before he died, and he said he was expecting “to go home tomorrow” – prophetic indeed, but not in the manner I anticipated. Roger died on Wednesday, 13th June at Myton Hospice, and our sympathies are very much with Linda and the family.

We will all miss you Roger – not just your Whitnash band, where you rang for many years, but all of us in the Guild and the bell ringing fraternity, who were fortunate enough to have known you.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers