When I started hand bell ringing in 2015, I found myself stood next to Sue who was very helpful to me, particularly in the early days as I began to acquire the necessary skills. I remained playing next to Sue for the following five years whenever the Alton Handbell Ringers met.
Sue was a lovely, highly intelligent lady and during that time, we had lots of laughs together. She was my partner in chime!
I was shocked to hear earlier this year that Sue was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer and deeply saddened by her death at the beginning of May.
One incident I recall was at a Christmas concert in the church at Uttoxeter – the one that was so dimly lit that we all struggled to read our music. Not everyone was required to ring all pieces and so Sue and I were sat out in the stalls. Soon Alan and Wendy started giving us funny looks and we suddenly realised that we should be up there, taking part in the next piece. What had happened was that we had got mixed up between two pieces entitled ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and ‘Walking in the air’ which of course is from the film ‘The Snowman’. We were to ring in one but not the other. A week later, I sent Sue a Christmas card featuring pictures of snowmen for future reference.
Wendy decided that it would be good to get together in memory of Sue to play some of Sue’s favourite pieces and this took place in Alton village hall in the afternoon of September 8th.
Pictures of Sue and the team were set out on a table for reflection and the afternoon started with a good solid rendition of Processional Celebration. There followed a number of very different and contrasting pieces including Di Tanjong Katong, Polaris and the Northern Lights and the Takeda Rhapsody.
It is somewhat ironic that I now play bells 17 and 18 which is where Sue used to play and I think of her a lot.
Apparently Sue had rung a Beatles medley in her very first concert back in 2013 and so we felt it fitting to play ‘Yesterday’ which is quite demanding for bells 17,18, 19 & 20.
Unfortunately, we did not play ‘Thaxted’, which was another of Sue’s favourites, because we did not have a full team due to some team members being away on holiday, but no doubt we will reflect on her contribution whenever it is played in future.
It is of course very sad that we have lost Sue, but It is great to have some young blood in our team once more and Becky, who has only been with us for a few weeks, plays very well and is now a key member of the team.
We concluded our afternoon session with the firm favourite ‘Celebration’ followed by a cup of tea and some fine cake provided by Jean.
Rest in peace Sue – you will never be forgotten.