26 Oct 1944 – 2 Feb 2021
A former member of our association, and ringer in Dunblane (from about 1997 to 2004), has died. David had suffered from a stroke before Christmas and then contracted Covid-19. He passed peacefully in his sleep. Many of us will have known David, Hazel and their daughter Helen. Rest in Peace, David.
David was born on 26th October 1944. His ringing career started at the age of 14, when he was taught to ring at Epsom Common in Surrey. Within a year of learning to ring he rang his first quarter peal at Nutfield, Surrey (Plain Bob Doubles ‘inside’). The following year he rang his first peal (Plain Bob Minor ‘inside’) at Buckland, Surrey, and in 1961 he conducted his first peal (Plain Bob Minor in 7 different extents) at Christ Church, Mitcham, Surrey.
In 1964 he was elected as a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths of which he was quietly proud especially as he was proposed for membership by his mentor, the late Pat Cannon of Dorking, Surrey. In 1965 he featured in the The Ringing World as part of the Up-and-Coming Youngsters series and later that year he conducted a peal Plain Bob Royal.
He was elected Master of the Leatherhead District of the Guildford Guild from 1965–1967. During his term of office, he set himself a target to have all 15 towers in the District regularly ringing for Sunday service and he was about 80% successful with this project. Also, in 1965 he successfully ‘called’ 192 Double Norwich Court Bob Major on the Carter Ringing Machine (demonstrator/instructor: Douglas Hughes).
In 1983 he researched and wrote a 5,000-word article entitled “Francis Edward Robinson (1833–1910): His early life and background” to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Rev Robinson’s birth. The Rev F.E. Robinson was the first ringing cleric to ring 1,000 peals). From the beginning of 1997 David commenced the weekly “From the archives …” column in the Ringing World, which he continued for several years.
David rang 52 peals up to Cambridge Surprise Royal and conducted 7 of the peals. He also rang over 260 quarter peals, and conducted at least 100 up to Grandsire Cinques. Ringing composition was always important to David when he was conducting, and he often wrote out the place notation and the composition to ensure he brought up his favourite changes of Queens and Titums and hand stroke homes. David always enjoyed teaching new recruits and helping them progress, and he obtained great satisfaction from getting a ringer through their first quarter or peal, especially if it was someone he had taught.
It was sad that David was unable to continue ringing due to the Covid-19 restrictions although, in the autumn of 2020, he was part of the band at Hoar Cross for a couple of weddings and the occasional Sunday service ringing.
David passed away in the early hours of Tuesday 2nd February. David had a stroke just before Christmas last year and was making good progress on recovery but unfortunately succumbed to pneumonia and Covid-19. At David’s funeral the family walked in to the sound of Stedman Triples, which was his favourite method to ring and conduct. Hazel, Helen and James have been grateful for the many messages and tributes to David which has brought them comfort since his passing.
I knew David when he rang at Epsom Common in the 1960s and these few words cover only that period. I rang with David at Surrey Association meetings and also in a couple of peals. The first of these was Bob Major at Putney in February 1962, my second peal and first on eight, David’s 5th peal and first of Major, conducted by Ted Collins. The second was at Rickmansworth in 1966 when we had both quite separately started ringing a bit with John Ketteringham who was living in Earl’s Court at the time. Typical of Ketteringham arrangements, we met short for Royal and Mr Wonderful called a peal of Yorkshire Major.
Epsom Common was and still is one of those towers in Surrey that is affiliated both to the Surrey Association and the Guildford Guild. There was, let’s say, a certain rivalry between members of the respective bodies, which was not always friendly, an overhang from the creation of the latter which some of the older Surrey members considered to be an encroachment on their territory and, indeed, for many years each had a liaison officer with the other side, part of whose job it was to diffuse occasional outbreaks of antagonism.
David resigned from the Surrey Association around 1967 and although continuing to ring at Epsom Common, where he rang nine of his total of 52 peals, he diverted his local ringing interests to the Guildford Guild. I saw very little of him after that even though he remained active in that part of Surrey for another 10 years or so. By coincidence, living now only a few miles away, I use Epsom Common Church car park as the starting point for many of my “lock down” walks. My recollection is that David was a quiet and steady ringer who seems to have disappeared from ringing for 20 years or so, perhaps raising a family, re-emerging in Scotland in the 1990s. I hope other members will be able to tell us about his later ringing life in Scotland.
I would like to say how sorry I was to read of the death of David Herschell. I rang my only peal with David in 1963 at Pakefield, Yorkshire Surprise Major, when the Central Council was at Yarmouth and we were both teenagers. I did not meet him again until 2003 when my daughter was studying for her first degree at the University of Stirling and David was a member of the band at Dunblane Cathedral. The distance meant that I usually stayed several days when I went to Stirling and, if I could, I rang at Dunblane Cathedral. David and I recalled our peal together in 1963 and he was friendly and welcoming. It is always so good to be welcomed into a tower miles from home and I really appreciated it. I would like to offer my sympathy to those left behind who mourn his loss.