Another unique occasion at Meldreth

By Derek E. Sibson, published in The Ringing World, 5th September 2008

In 1998 we had a party at Meldreth marking the occasion when John Gipson rang his 1000th peal on Meldreth bells. 10 years on and here we are celebrating another unique achievement because John has now rung 1500 at Meldreth. Not only that but he has also rung at least 150 on each of the bells.

About six months ago we started thinking about the occasion and whereas last time he circled the tower 100 times with the 1000th peal, looking at the figures this time it was possible for him to reach 1500 and to have rung at least 150 on each bell. So we set about increasing the numbers, particularly on the tenor where he was about 23 short. This explains the somewhat unusual feature at Meldreth of a number of peals in triples methods as it was felt Johnny would not turn the tenor in at his age. He reached the total of 150 on each bell with three to spare so he was able to relax on the treble for the last few. The event was set for July 5th and the band comprised those who had rung the most with Johnny, particularly in the last 500. There was also a supporters' peal at Trumpington for others who had helped him achieve this total.

Quite by chance I met Johnny's successor as churchwarden at Meldreth, Jill Price, with some of her friends about two weeks earlier and she told me how much the village wanted to be part of the occasion. So they very kindly offered to provide suitable refreshments for after the peal and John provided the liquid. We had a very pleasant time with a lot of locals attending and we are very grateful for the provision of the party. The only disappointment was that Joan, his wife, could not be present as she was in hospital recovering from an operation. During the party we presented John with a framed record of the peal and Volume III of his peal records at Meldreth can now be prepared!

Following the peal, BBC Look East came to film and interview Johnny and it was shown on Look East News the following evening. Also the local press visited and a good piece appeared in the local paper. We are very grateful to John Price for making the contacts and arrangements for these visits.

I do not propose to give all the details of statistics from the previous article (R W 1998 p.408) but some figures to update these, may be of interest. John's first 500 at Meldreth took 48 years, his second 500 11 years and the last 500 10 years. A further 76 ringers took part in the peals, making a total of 568. Probably the most notable addition to the list is Richard Castledine who only rang his first peal at Meldreth in 1999 but has now become the third highest conductor with 123. It will probably not be all that long before another person rings 1000 on Meldreth bells but the large majority of them have been on the fourth!

The number of different methods rung has increased to well over 800 but only 50 in the last 500 had not been rung to full peals before. John has tended to ring the treble more often these days which is perhaps not surprising at 84, but he is still very capable of ringing inside when pushed to do so! And he will regularly ring spliced. Bristol is still the commonest method to be rung with a further 24 in the last 500, and there has been very little change in the other popular methods.

Once again we must thank Johnny for making the bells so readily available. While he has been ringing a further 500, there have been 88 other peals without him. During his first 500 there were 193 others and during the second 123. It does not take very advanced mathematics to realise that a very large milestone at Meldreth is approaching.

As I said last time we look forward to many more peals at Meldreth with John and we wish Joan a speedy recovery.

Holy Trinity
Sat July 5 2008 2h43 (10)
5150 Bristol S Major
Comp. S Jenner
1 John G Gipson
2 E Jane Sibson
3 J Richard Castledine
4 Geoffrey Pearson
5 Geoffrey S Perryman
6 Derek E Sibson (C)
7 Michael H D O'Callaghan
8 Tony Sansom
1500th peal on the bells for John Gipson and has rung at least 150 peals on each bell. 2500th peal: 2.

The Meldreth peal band
SS Mary & Michael
Sat July 5 2008 2h47 (11)
5150 Yorkshire S Major
Comp. A M Barber
1 D Graham Hall
2 Mary E Hall
3 Jane K A Hough
4 J Richard Hough
5 Roy V Webb
6 Ian W Davies
7 Peter J Waterfield
8 Jason R Turnock (C)
Rung with congratulations to John Gipson on ringing 1500 peals at Meldreth.