Report from Thrapston Branch.
Looking back to the Exciting Ringing Events of 2012, including Jubilee Day and Olympic Ringing, 2013 in the Thrapston Branch has definitely been of a quieter hue.
From September quite a number of our members had experienced a new phenomenon – retirement, for a variety of reasons. There was then the opportunity to enjoy such experiences as ‘no-rush’ practice nights, relaxed mid-week ringing groups, quarter – peal days and low-cost travel facilities.
Our Annual Striking Competition’ took place in October at Wadenhoe. If there is a quintessentially English Setting for Ringing then Wadenhoe, in glorious early Autumn Sunshine must be it.
The Ringing Masters were a little concerned that not enough ringers would be available but we needn’t have worried. The event turned out to be one of the best attended striking competitions for a number of years. Our judge, ‘Len Hallifax’ commented on the particularly high standard of striking and the quality of the methods rung.
Following on from the Striking Competition, the Branch was able to ring for Choral Evensong at Peterborough Cathedral. This was a great opportunity to give the less experienced ringers a chance to ring on a higher number of bells as well as enjoy the glorious choral music of evensong. We hope this can be an annual event in our calendar.
November brought a very special event in the form of our Annual Branch Dinner. There was a change in venue this year and over forty members, friends and families met at Hargrave Village Hall with a truly memorable meal provided the ladies of Hargrave W.I. It was a
wonderful evening and our thanks go especially to Dennis Thrift for all his organisation, especially in sorting out the Bells from China!
December had us meeting again at two towers. The mighty eight at St. Peter’s Raunds rang out for the first part of the afternoon, then we moved to the little four at All Hallows Hargrave for a very pleasurable ring and Christmas Tea.
A very successful A.G.M. at Titchmarsh brought us to the new ringing year with confidence. Several of our members have achieved their first quarter peals both inside and out and on six and eight bells. Congratulations to everyone.
On a sadder note we learnt of the death of Les Witten in Clanfield Nursing Home at the age of 97. Les’s funeral took place at St. James’ Thrapston on December 19th. It was an honour to ring half-muffled for Les both at the beginning and end of the service and to see many past and present ringers there. A quarter peal in Les’ memory was rung later in January.
Les started his early life at Titchmarsh and many of his reminisces of Titchmarsh in those early 20th Century days are included in the Titchmarsh Book. No-one is quite sure whether Les learnt to ring at Titchmarsh or Wadenhoe, but evidence seems to suggest he was recruited to Wadenhoe in 1937.
Les was a very faithful ringer at Wadenhoe and later Thrapston. He served as Branch Ringing Master and Secretary for over 10 years and it was only when old age and infirmity caught up with both him and Annie that he had to cease ringing.
Our thanks go to Peter Fleckney, who succeeded Les as Branch Secretary, for a very fitting tribute to Les. It was published in the ‘Ringing World’ in February and sums up Les’s many achievements.
We have also been able to welcome several new ringers to the Branch this year and we hope they will continue to enjoy all their ringing experiences for many years to come.
We have also been delighted to have St Rumbald’s at Stoke Doyle back on our ‘Ringable Tower’ List.
The five historic bells were cast in 1727 from the bells of an earlier gothic church. The bells were cast by Thomas Eayre of Kettering and are almost unique as a ‘Maiden’ Ring, being virtually untouched since being hung.
Now the bells and bell frame have undergone a full refurbishment by Messrs Whites of Appleton.
At Candlemas the Branch Officers were delighted to attend their re-dedication by the Dean of Peterborough. It was a lovely service and a very special privilege to ring the bells. Long may they continue to ring out over the Nene Valley.
As hopefully Spring approaches as a Branch ,we look forward to another very Happy Year of Ringing.
Alison Byrnes – Assistant Ringing Master
Dennis Thrift – Press Correspondent.