The Four Shires' ‘GRAND OLD MAN OF RINGING’: Rob Harvey’s 91st Birthday Quarter

Seven men and one lady met at Whichford, Warks, on June 19th to ring a celebratory quarter peal for Rob Harvey's 91st birthday. A ringer's 91st birthday is uncommon and certainly something to celebrate, particularly as Rob is well-known in the North Cotswolds as its 'Grand Old Man of Ringing'. What made the event especially newsworthy was that Rob himself was one of the band. Added to this, come November, Rob celebrates 80 years an active ringer.

Rob's birthday quarter peals at Whichford are becoming a significant feature of the North Cotswolds' ringing events. He arranges them and - of course - rings in them! Yes, last year's quarter for his 90th birthday was significant, but this year, being 91 and getting 80 ringing years in, was even more so. This must be a rare achievement.

Whichford's bells were rehung by Taylors in 1904, when some of the bells were recast and a new cast-iron bellframe was provided for the 6 bells. Rob had hankered after an octave for many years and the opportunity arose when arrangements to celebrate the Millennium were being made. Rob rang Taylors about his thought and was surprised to be told Taylors' records showed the 1904 rehanging included an option for an 8-bell frame and two trebles, but this was discarded due to cost. Taylors installed the 6-bell frame in such a way that the two extra pits could be installed easily at any time - and that time had obviously come. As nothing had changed in the intervening years, Taylors knew precisely what was required and what the measurements were! Rob organised the fund raising for the work and paid for the new treble himself. Everything was completed in 1998.

So, how did the quarter go? Rob decided to ring the treble, not because he couldn't manage an inside bell: far from it! He's quite happy ringing Grandsire Triples inside, as the previous quarters testify. He rang the treble because he'd not rung it to a quarter before, and because it has his name on it! The ringing went well, with only one minor trip - and that wasn't due to Rob (one of the 'younger lads' nodded off for a few seconds). Unfortunately, one of the band had to rush away at the end, which prevented a photograph being taken to record the occasion. Afterwards, Rob had arranged some drinks and eats at the local pub, 'The Norman Knight', where a very convivial conclusion to the event ensued!

Whichford, Warks, 20th June, 1260 Grandsire Triples: Rob Harvey 1, Ted Copson 2, Mick Austin 3, Chris Povey 4, Richard Lewis-Skeath 5, Sally Austin 6, John Nicholls (c) 7, Peter Kenealy 8. Rung to celebrate Rob Harvey's 91st birthday and, in November, his 80 years an active ringer.

(Reproduced from The Ringing World)

‘And he who rings in spur or hat,
Shall likewise pay six pounds* for that….’

(* inflation applied)

Rob performing on the mini-ring
at the Moreton-in-Marsh Show