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Peal for Gordon Adams

04 February 2024 09:30

The bells of St Mary’s Church, Haverhill rang out on Sunday afternoon, 4th February, in celebration of the 90th birthday of local bellringer and community champion, Gordon Adams. Six people gathered to ring the bells for a full peal, lasting almost three hours without stopping, which also marked Gordon’s 80th anniversary of ringing.


Gordon learned to ring in Essendon, Hertfordshire, in 1944 at the age of 10 when the ban on ringing during the war was lifted. He joined the local band in Haverhill when visiting the town for work and hearing the bells from his room in the Bull. He has encouraged ringing across the area ever since and still rings regularly at Haverhill on a Sunday morning and at various towns and villages for mid-week practice.


Gordon said, ‘I am delighted that a band has come together to mark this milestone in my ringing career, most of whom I have rung with personally at some point. I am grateful to the many people who have supported me over the weekend, and contributed generously to my birthday appeal for the Friends of St Mary’s.’


At a 100-strong gathering for his birthday at Haverhill Golf Club, Gordon raised £750 for the Friends of St Mary’s to help preserve the historic and cultural legacy of the church building and community. He made headlines in 2021 raising money for the same cause, when he walked over 1000 miles in a year and was dubbed 'the walking Grandad'. His walking, which he still undertakes every day, keeps him fit and active, which helps him climb the spiral staircase to the ringing chamber at St Mary’s.


The weekend also marked 80 years since the first peal was rung on Haverhill’s bells, completed by a local band after the tower and bells were reopened at the beginning of the twentieth century. A peal is a significant achievement and is often rung to mark a special occasion such as an anniversary or local event. Although Haverhill’s bells are rung frequently, they are not pealed often.


The Revd Max Drinkwater, priest-in-charge, also rang in the peal. He said, ‘Gordon has created a huge legacy from his support of the Haverhill community. Whether it is bellringing or town-twinning, the Friends of the Church or his work at Addis, he has brought commitment, generosity and good humour to many groups and organisations in the town. So many people in the local area have benefited from his tireless efforts.’


The band at Haverhill is currently in a strong position, especially since recruiting and training new ringers for the coronation of HM King Charles III. One of the new recruits is the nephew of Peter Carter, who rang in the first peal in 1944. Anyone interested in the history of the bells or in learning to ring should contact the church for more information.


An online record of the ringing can be seen on the bellringing performance hub, BellBoard.