Obituary: Edward W. (Ted) Colley

Obituary: Edward W. (Ted) Colley 12th July 1931 - 4th July 2010.

Ted Colley, late of Caistor, Lincolnshire died at Greenacres nursing home on Sunday 4th July 2010, where he was residing whilst Nan, his wife was recuperating in Grimsby Hospital following major surgery.

He was born on the 12th July 1931 and spent his youth on a dairy smallholding in Worthen, Shropshire from which a lifelong love of the countryside and rural pursuits particularly in ornithology and apiary ensued.

Learning to ring at Worthen with a group of like minded teenagers including his cousins Leonard and John, he rang his first peal on the 4th of September 1948 at Cound, a peal of Grandsire Doubles conducted by Leslie Evans.

Serving a full apprenticeship in Carpentry and Joinery with Shrewsbury Builders whilst attending Shrewsbury Technical College provided training that would benefit and influence his activities and decisions in later life.

As was customary for the period, Ted served two years in the Army as a National Serviceman. Not a particularly happy period for him, the discipline and routine of the army not sitting well with an independent and sometimes rebellious nature. He did however excel as a rifleman and it did allow his ringing to progress with ringing in and around Worcester.

After his National Service, Ted met his future wife Nancie Swann whilst ringing in and around Reading, ringing, with Nan, his first Peal of Surprise Major, Cambridge, at Aldermaston on the 6th March 1954.

Married on the 14th August 1954 at St Giles Lincoln, they set up home in a caravan at Market Drayton, both having teaching positions at Market Drayton Grammar and subsequently at Brooklyn Tech.

Living near to Birmingham with an ambitious and progressive ringing community allowed peal ringing in particular to progress both in complexity and in quantity, peal being rung almost weekly from 1962 to 1967 despite the arrival of two sons, John and Stephen.

The opportunity arose to take up the post of Head of Construction at Eastleigh Technical College and the family moved to in Hampshire, adopting Bishops Waltham as their home tower and church. There followed a period where his skill as a teacher allowed many young ringers to progress, many, far exceeding the skills of the teacher.

A churchman with strong beliefs but a reticence to outward displays, he became a chorister and one of the Churchwardens at Bishops Waltham where he was involved with the project to recast the 3rd bell and the cracked 5th bell, raising funds by chiming only the cracked bell for Sunday service until sufficient funds were available for the work to be completed by the Whitechapel Bell foundry. This was the start of an interest in, and involvement with, bell restoration projects.

The restricted opportunities in secondary education available for his sons in Hampshire at the time forced a move in 1976 to Lincolnshire where the Grammar school system was still in place. Ringing in North Lincolnshire at that time was at somewhat of a low ebb, proficient bands had aged and little recruitment and teaching had been done.

Taking the initiative in teaching new ringers at Caistor and establishing new bands at Bigby, Elsham and Grasby, he served as ringing master for the Northern Branch of the Lincoln Guild for many years, conducting meetings with brevity and an aversion to straying from the agenda (It would delay tea!). Closely involved in the parish community, Ted served as a parish councillor for several years and was a governor of Grasby primary school overseeing the appointment of staff and the construction of new classrooms. It is part of his legacy that that small school has thrived and prospered in times of declining roles in rural schools.

Disillusionment with the trends in further education and, in his opinion, the denial of adequate training to apprentices from the short courses offered at the time lead to early retirement in 1986. Setting up his own joinery business specializing in bell wheels and items of church furniture, he made the majority of the bell wheels supplied by Eayre & Smith Ltd between the years 1986 and 2006 and several churches have peal boards and rope spiders fashioned in his workshop. His last wheels were made for the four treble bells to augment Barrow upon Humber to twelve.

Leading from experiences gained at Bishops Waltham, Ted was instrumental in the rehanging the six bells and subsequent augmentation to eight at Caistor, the new steel bell frame being built in his workshop, and the rehanging and augmentation to six at Grasby. A difficult four that had not been regularly rung before his arrival were rehung on new fittings, augmented first to five and then to six using second hand bells and an additional frame above the existing timber bell frame.

A serious stroke in 2004 curtailed his ringing for a while but, typically, he rallied and learnt to ring again and rang his last peal for the Barrow and District Society at Caistor in December 2004. Further heart problems and strokes resulted in him not being physically able to ring peals. He remained,however tower captain at Caistor, ringing for service and at practice for as long as he was able.

In all Ted rang 1161 peals ranging from Doubles to Surprise Maximus and would ring with anyone and arranged a great many ringers first peals and quarters. Peal ringing, however, was but part of his ringing activities. Over the years he taught and inspired many ringers, adapting his teaching style to match the personality and temperament of his pupil, at times forceful and abrupt, at others tactful and patient, always however with a somewhat esoteric sense of humour.

The day prior to his death, he attended the Northern Branch meeting at Legbourne and, although unable to ring, took great delight in meeting may friends.

He was buried, according to his wishes, at Grasby cemetery surrounded by the countryside he loved.

He will be missed by many.