Inverness

1944–2019

 

Ted was born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire on 7th October 1944, but spent most of his childhood in Oxford where his father, Jack, had a shoe shop. His father was Tower Captain at St Aldate’s, Oxford and he taught Ted to handle a bell in November 1957, not long after Ted had become a teenager. Ted was a quick learner and progressed rapidly, ringing his first quarter peal just 8 months after his first handling lesson. Before the same year (1958) was out, he had rung his first peal and conducted his first quarter peal. The following year saw him conduct his first peal, at St Thomas’, Oxford. Ted had a natural talent for ringing and it wasn’t long before he was elected a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1961, whilst still in his mid-teens. For much of his early ringing career, Ted was based in and around Oxford. He was an active member of the Oxford Society and was President in 1983 during its 250th Anniversary year.

 

In 1989 Ted and his wife, Judy, moved to Scotland to set up an outdoor activity and accommodation business based at Kerrow House near Cannich, located approximately 27 miles SW of Inverness. Both he and Judy became active members of the Inverness Cathedral band and between 1990 and 1994 he conducted 30 quarter peals at the Cathedral, as well as visiting other Scottish towers for quarters and peals. Kerrow House became an occasional handbell venue and he took some delight in ringing handbell quarter peals at some remote locations in Scotland, including Scourie, John O’Groats and the Isle of Harris.

 

Unfortunately, by the mid 1990s his outdoor centre enterprise had become more difficult and he had to undergo treatment for cancer, so he and Judy moved back to Oxfordshire. This was followed by a move to Cornwall, initially near Truro and then to the Lizard peninsula. Whilst in Cornwall he remained active in the local ringing circles ringing peals, quarters and supporting local practices along with Sunday service ringing.

 

In 2012 Ted and Judy returned to Scotland, this time to Sloibcoyle Croft on the brae above Edderton, not far from the Dornoch Firth. In this ideal rural location, Ted and Judy set about renovating the former croft steading as their home and populated the land associated with the property with a variety of animal companions, including dogs, ponies, goats, ducks and hens. Ted was in his element erecting numerous sheds and outbuildings to act as workshops, garages, stores and accommodation for their animals, thus earning himself the nickname locally as “Ted the shed”. At this time both Ted and Judy returned to ringing at Inverness Cathedral, again being active members of the band, despite the more than 70 miles round trip from Sloibcoyle Croft. Peter Shipton’s bells at Nairn were also a frequent venue for general ringing and quarter peals. During this period Ted was very keen to ring quarter peals and between September 2012 and November 2018 he conducted more than 70 quarters at Inverness Cathedral and Nairn combined. As a result, he was the leading SACR quarter peal ringer and conductor two years running in 2016 and 2017. At this time Ted also rang a handful of peals, including conducting two of Inverness’ ringers’ first peals. He was also pleased to have conducted a half-muffled peal of Grandsire Caters at Inverness Cathedral prior to Remembrance Sunday in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War.

 

In 2016 Ted (along with fellow Inverness ringers Hugh Collins, Sue Varley and Evan Roderick) established a northern outpost for handbell ringing. A total of 20 handbell quarter peals were rung at the two regular venues of Sloibcoyle Croft and Fearnlea, Alcaig over a period of just under two years. At the same time Ted also spent some considerable effort attempting to find a new location in the north of Scotland for the bells at Nairn following Peter Shipton’s move to Ayrshire. Although he put forward a number of proposals and drew up plans with some authorities, various issues meant that this still remains a work in progress.

 

Towards the end of 2017 Ted’s cancer returned, and following surgery and follow-up treatment his ringing activities were seriously curtailed. He last rang at Inverness Cathedral on 11th November 2018 as part of the 100th anniversary commemorations marking the Armistice ending the Great War, when he conducted his final quarter peal. This was an event he was determined to participate in despite being in some considerable physical discomfort. Throughout the first half of 2019 his physical health deteriorated further and he was largely confined to Sloibcoyle. Although not ringing on tower bells, Ted did try to keep his ringing mind active by ringing touches on the handbell simulator Mabel.

 

Ted died at Sloibcoyle Croft on 25th August 2019. On the evening prior to his funeral a halfmuffled quarter peal of Plain Bob Triples was rung in his memory at Inverness Cathedral. The band included 5 local ringers, his step-son, David, and David & Karen Parker who Ted had taught to ring whilst in Oxfordshire. Judy and other members of the family listened outside. He was laid to rest in the grounds of Edderton Old Kirk located on the shores of the Dornoch Firth.

 

Ted rang a total of 451 peals, 10 of which were for the SACR. His favourite method was Grandsire Caters, so it is perhaps fitting that an error free and well struck peal of Grandsire Caters rung at Glasgow Cathedral on 14th December 2019 was dedicated in his memory.

 

Nick Sturgess


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