St Cuthbert's, Edinburgh

1956 – 27 September 2021

 

Mike was a proud Yorkshire man with strong connections to County Durham, where he started a life-long passion for bell ringing when he learnt to ring at Holy Trinity, Darlington tutored by Roland Park. The Holy Trinity band were a very strong six-bell team at that time, and Mike quickly mastered ringing to the stage of ringing multiple minor methods, which left him with a life-long love of minor methods and the Bankes-James compositions.

 

Ringing was always at the heart of his life and as a shy freshman at York he ventured into the lion’s den of York Minster, where he was recognised and encouraged by David Potter, joined the esteemed Minster Society of Change Ringers and ‘made drumming the tenor of the middle eight his own’. His skill and ability to master heavy-bell ringing was replicated throughout his life at Bath, Frome and in Edinburgh, as well as many towers throughout the UK and beyond. Bath Abbey are a challenging ring, being an anti-clockwise, old-fashioned heavy ten, and they held a special significance for Mike. It was a major achievement for him when he conducted a peal of Grandsire Caters on these bells in 1988.

 

Mike met and fell in love with Judy, and they married in 1980 and became a dedicated ringing couple in the Bath and North Somerset area. They moved to Dunfermline in 1989 and soon settled into ringing at St Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh, where Mike became a key backender. He was always willing to help and taught many people to ring in Bath and Edinburgh as well as participating in many first quarter peal and peal attempts. He was tower captain at St Cuthbert’s for several years. In 1992 Mike was a core member of the band that rang an advanced peal each month of the calendar month methods, which was both challenging and very rewarding. The following year we were keen to build on our Scottish Association peal-ringing journey. Mike’s mathematical background and heavy-bell expertise made him the obvious potential conductor. However, his natural reserve impeded his confidence and he was reluctant to take on this role. Consequently we adopted a team approach in which Mike played a fundamental and key role. Whilst others called the peals, Mike was instrumental in seeking interesting but manageable compositions, and, critically, he followed the composition during the ringing to help correct any errors along the way. He was exceptionally good at this role and could be regarded as the ultimate ‘silent conductor’. We were incredibly grateful for his contribution which allowed us to ring a series of peals for the Scottish Association in the 1990s which would otherwise not have been possible and built the foundation for the successful peal ringing scene in Scotland today. Throughout he remained our first team tenor ringer, with particular highlights including turning in Inveraray tenor to a peal of York Minor on the back six, and peals at Harare and Cape Town Cathedrals in Southern Africa. Overall, he rang 215 peals for the Scottish Association contributing to a life-long total of 321.

 

Mike will be greatly missed for his friendship, dedication, wit, ringing ability and gentle selfeffacing character by all his ringing friends throughout the UK.

 

He rang his first peal of Cambridge S Minor in York on 27th October 1974. As a tribute and celebration of his life in ringing, a peal of Cambridge S Minor was rung at Stirling on 30th October by close ringing friends.

 

Paul Harden

 

Performances in memorium.


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