9 Feb 1946 – 17 May 2023

Jose learned to ring with schoolmates on a light six at All Saints Steep in Hampshire but did not keep it up. She returned to ringing in Glasgow early in 1977 on striking up an enduring friendship with her piano tuner Henry and his wife Freda, newly arrived from the United States. All three were called by the bells of St Mary’s Cathedral, and they soon roped me in. Together the Class of ’77 progressed to Sunday Service ringing and, until our friends returned to Boston, made the rounds of practice nights across central Scotland. Jose remained a loyal member of the Glasgow band and was elected to the SACR in 1986.

She attended Association meetings with enthusiasm, supported the 50-50 Club, and enjoyed the camaraderie of ringers. Especially memorable were the Glasgow/Paisley ringing trips where we had many laughs in her company.

A life-changing accident in 1998 reduced her mobility, but she continued to ring for as long as her health permitted and enjoyed tower social events until the Christmas before lockdown. In Glasgow she is remembered for her strong personality and superb pancake parties at her flat. Undoubtedly being a bellringer was the biggest thing in Jose’s life. She kept up her subscriptions faithfully, and in 2023 was put forward for life membership of the SACR but sadly died a few days before the AGM, where she was remembered by many friends.

A first Baby Boomer, Jo arrived precisely nine months after VE Day in Macclesfield where her father was working on radar. An academic and mathematician, his subsequent career took the family to the Gold Coast, which became Ghana. From the age of seven Jo was a boarder at Dunhurst Prep and Bedales near Petersfield, Hampshire. She made multiple three-hop flights by BOAC to London, eventually with her little brothers, James and John, who attended different schools. Such experience would give her the resilience and strength of character to overcome many adversities in her life.

There was family trauma when her parents divorced, but she received great kindness at school. Fellow pupil Judy Hunt became a lifelong friend with whose family she spent much time, and her letters to them bore exotic stamps. Both girls played in the school orchestra, but only Jo rang bells.

Judy spoke of Jo’s ability particularly in Maths, Science and Athletics, and the bi-polar illness that began in Sixth Form, curtailing her prospects of a good career. Her sister Susannah and brother John echo all this, adding that Jo was always fair and kind, kept her quick wit despite medication, never lost her independent spirit and, above, all never complained about anything.

In the early 1970s Jo made her way to Glasgow where she met and married bus driver Tony Symes. They set up home in the flat in Dunearn Street across from St Mary’s, and had two children, Heidi and Lee. The family belonged to Woodlands Methodist Church. Heidi grew up to be a teacher and Lee a nurse, a great credit to their parents who were immensely proud of them. She herself found many worthwhile pursuits in the community and was walking to a Red Cross Meeting when she was run over. Family visits across the pond between longstanding friends and rounding up her extended family were important to Jo, whose sister likened her to a sheepdog. Meanwhile her son and daughter had married. Heidi and Archie have two sons, Magnus and Hamish; Lee and Julie have Jamie. Jose was a doting grandmother. She and Tony also loved a series of SSPCA rescue dogs, the last one was Holly. She lost Tony suddenly in 2013, and in 2017 moved to sheltered accommodation where she was still at the heart of the community and full of plans. Frank and I adopted Holly, who visited her mistress faithfully wherever she happened to be.

The year 2020 saw the slow unravelling of lockdown, hospital, recovery from Covid, and adapting to residential care on Great Western Terrace. She awoke with pneumonia on Coronation Day and was admitted to QEUH. On her last Sunday Frank’s recording of our ten bells ringing for Evensong brought a lovely smile to her face. It was played again at her funeral. A Quarter Peal of Plain Bob Triples in 1260 Changes was rung half muffled at Glasgow by those who had known her the longest.  

Karen Ewing