Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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The bells of St Lawrence Church, Mickleton, were rung on the evening of 30th March to celebrate a very special occasion - the 90th birthday of Ron Gilkes, regular Mickleton & Ilmington ringer until age caught up with him. Ron is also a Life Member of the Guild. All eight ringers were associated with Ron over many, many years through his ringing at local towers in competitions across the four shires.

In his heyday Ron specialised in ringing the tenor, a bell that must maintain a regular pace enabling consistently good striking throughout. He was, in my estimation, one of the best, if not the best in the local area.

As so often occurs in campanology, Ron was tutored by his father at Lower Quinton, where he was brought up in his younger years. When moving to Mickleton to work for Joseph Webb Jnr (market gardener), he maintained his allegiance to Quinton tower, but he was eventually persuaded to join the Mickleton & Ilmington band. Here are just a few names to remind you of your early days with us, Ron: Harry Wright, Roger Kinchin, Sam Loynes, Francis Powell…. The list of friends you made over the years in this fascinating hobby is endless.

The ringing consisted of 1260 changes of Grandsire Triples (and to the discerning ear it was very good - unfortunately, Ron didn't hear it due to March going out like a lion). The band stood as follows:

Mickleton, Glos, 30th Mar, 1260 Grandsire Triples: 1 David Clark, 2 John W Kinchin, 3 Bill Sabin, 4 John Nicholls, 5 Bill Nash, 6 George Osborn, 7 Michael Dane (C), 8 Jackie Hands.

John Kinchin

PS: as you might expect, the ringers adjourned to the local hostelry to quench their thirsts; and well deserved, too.

(Your assessment of Ron's tenoring abilities is well justified, John. I remember calling a couple of peals with Ron ringing the tenor behind and it was an utter treat to ring with him: he was totally metronomic. A ringer once said to me ‘They think you can cut a tenor ringer from the hedgerow, but you can't.’ Indeed you can't. It is truly a gift to ring a tenor behind perfectly. Few can. Ed)