William (Bill) Allan Brotherton
Bill was born in Wolverhampton on the 22nd of August, 1945. His father, Francis (Frank) Brotherton, was an excellent studious ringer and Tower Captain at St. Peter's Wolverhampton, a 33cwt Gillett & Johnston ring of 12. Bill was taught to ring there by his father at the age of about 17, in a two-hour session. He then joined the regular practice night and was ringing Grandsire Doubles on an inside bell (by numbers) when future wife Helen arrived to see the ringing with a view to learning. Bill was also a server at St. Peter's. He was a member of the church badminton club and the Friday Club; an art, music and literature discussion group - only intermittently though as he considered it a bit highbrow!
Bill attended a local college where he completed a sandwich course in Mechanical Engineering, gaining a 1st Class Honours degree. Bill and Helen married in 1967. The following year Bill was offered a PhD placement at Cambridge University which he accepted. However, due to political reasons, funding was not available and he could not take up the place. Contact with Cambridge continued however, and he did some work there.
In 1973 Bill joined Ferranti in Edinburgh, working in micro-electronics. The family then moved to Edinburgh where Bill started ringing at both the Cathedral and St. Cuthbert's.
He gave up ringing whilst the children were very young, but after Clare and James had learnt to ring, the whole family took up ringing. Bill became Steeplekeeper and then Tower Captain at Edinburgh Cathedral from 1990 - 2014. Bill was instrumental in augmenting the ring of 10 to 12 whilst achieving his ambition in retaining the wooden bell frame. This made St. Mary's Cathedral the first ring of 12 bells in Scotland. He also served a three-year term as Master of the Scottish Association of Change Ringers.
Following the closure of Ferranti, Bill worked for Fife Council as a technician at a local school from 1996 until retirement in 2010.
Bill rang his first peal in October 1964 at Shifnall, Shropshire, inside to Grandsire Triples for the Shropshire Association. His first peal together with the whole family was at St. Cuthbert, Edinburgh in 1987 in 3 minor methods conducted by Bill. A peal of Cambridge Surprise Royal at Edinburgh Cathedral in September 1992 celebrated Bill and Helens' Silver Wedding Anniversary. Plain Bob Maximus at Edinburgh Cathedral in October 2009 was the first peal on 12 bells in Scotland. Bill rang in excess of 130 peals and a great many quarter peals. Of all the peals and quarter peals he conducted, the one he was proudest of was a little mentioned quarter peal of Bastow Little Court rung in 1993, entirely by an Edinburgh Cathedral band and contained 91 calls.
In December 2014 Bill and Helen moved to the East Coast of Lincolnshire. Bill emailed the tower contact for SS. Peter & Paul, Ingoldmells. He and Helen would be living in the neighbouring village where there are no bells, he asked about ringing as they were looking forward to joining the local ringers. Bill initially stated that they were not looking for too great a commitment, but it soon became apparent that they were very keen and enthusiastic ringers. Bill and Helens' arrival in Lincolnshire coincided with the reinstatement of regular practices at Ingoldmells and to be joined by two experienced ringers was a great boost to the Ingoldmells & Addlethorpe team, and to ringing in East Lincolnshire. With Helen, he travelled extensively throughout the county ringing many quarter peals together.
Bill was a valued and very active member of the Eastern Branch of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers. Although he did not hold an office within the Guild, he supported Helen who held two offices concurrently, for a time, and continues as Guild General Secretary.
Bill was a very competent ringer. He had a sensitive disposition and would happily ring with both learners and experienced ringers alike. Whilst ringing he would often offer helpful gestures to assist others when the need arose. On completion of some good ringing or following the achievement of something being properly rung by a novice for the first time, Bill would always offer positive acknowledgement.
Bill was not born deaf but became so in childhood, probably following a bout of measles. He was not totally deaf but suffered from middle frequency deafness - about the range of the human voice - and tinnitus. However, he could hear parts of words that were outside his range of deafness and had to guess what the rest of the word was which explains why he could hear sometimes but not others. He could hear bells and those that were in his range of deafness he could feel the "tap" of the clapper. Despite this hearing deficiency he was an excellent striker. Ingoldmells tower benefitted from having Bill in their striking contest team, winning the Guild plate competitions in 2016 and 2017. He was also in an Eastern Branch team that won the Guild 8 bell striking competition for the first time ever in 2016. Bill supported ringers and ringing throughout the area and made many ringing friends throughout the wider county of Lincolnshire.
Bill had a formulaic approach to learning and revising the structure of methods. He would regularly revise, often just running through a method mentally, without visual aid. When gardening he would sometimes seem lost in thought and could be seen writing down the figures of some composition. Bill was affected by a form of synesthesia that resulted in him seeing methods in different colours. Knowing place bells was considered essential, a comment from a ringer that Yorkshire is simply Cambridge above the treble was met with the reply "yes - but that's not much use to you if you don't know where you're coming from or going to next".
Bill was very interested in method composition and liked to produce his own, either for practice night touches, quarters or peals. His competence in conducting is therefore not surprising, composition and performance trueness were important to Bill. In a quarter peal, whether conducting or not, he would be checking the coursing order throughout. If there was a discrepancy that he considered too great he would not make a fuss, but sometimes chose not to include the performance in his own records. Bill took ringing and the Church seriously and did not suffer fools gladly.
Grammatical correctness was important to Bill: a mobile phone was a portable phone and of self-isolation, why not simply use the term quarantine? He found errors in notices amusing and liked to point them out: 'No Nuts in How Cakes' being a recent example!
Outside of ringing, Bill's other interests included climbing the Munros, he and Helen accomplished 81, mainly while living in Scotland. Bill liked to read books by Winston Churchill and enjoyed the challenge of Sudoku puzzles. He was strong on general knowledge and a useful member of our quiz team; it was at a local quiz that I last saw him. Two days later, the Coronavirus 'lockdown' was announced. Bill was disappointed not to attend our practice that evening that transpired to be the last ringing at SS. Peter & Paul, Ingoldmells due to the virus restrictions.
In self-quarantine Bill and Helen kept busy at home, Bill involved with his interest in DIY projects, most recently the creation of a new loft access. During that final project he was taken ill with breathing difficulties and admitted to the Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, where he passed away the same day, 16th April 2020 from a Myocardial Infarction. Although he was tested for the Covid-19 virus the test result was negative.
Bill's funeral on Monday, 4th May could only be attended by six family members although an 'honour guard' of local ringers, who were able to travel there, stood along the route into Alford Crematorium.
Bill will be greatly missed throughout the ringing community. To Helen, Clare and James and their families, our sincere condolences. Rest in Peace Bill.
Grateful thanks to Helen for her assistance in writing this obituary.