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Obituary - John Pratt (1985-2013)

John Prattís death by suicide on 28 November 2013 was a great shock to all who knew him in Spalding. He was a Maths teacher and leader of the Duke of Edinburghís Award group at Spalding Grammar School, and a bellringer at St Mary & St Nicolas Church Spalding. The bells were rung before and after the memorial service in Spalding on 23 December.

John was one of the ringers at Spalding from the time he began to teach at the Grammar School. He was already an experienced and enthusiastic ringer. He had first learnt to ring (originally for a badge while he was a scout) at St Wilfridís Church in Alford, where a memorial service was held on 20 December after a private funeral.

He rang at Cambridge while he studied engineering and trained to be a teacher. John was a great member of the Spalding ringing band, and a good friend and mentor. In term-time, unless there was a DofE expedition, he was always at the belfry twice on Sundays: mornings and evenings, when the bells ring to call people to worship. He was at practices, and he was Tower Secretary, and in the ringersí quiz team too. He rang for weddings, except in the summer holidays - he was always volunteering at Ffestiniog in Wales then.

He was keen to teach people to ring, and started with an adult learner at Spalding. Then, when ringers were needed to help with a practice at Whaplode, it was John who took a major part in teaching both young people and adults there. John never shouted when people went wrong. He was patient, encouraging, and had the gift of making practising fun, at the same time as teaching new skills. He was always friendly and enthusiastic and new ringers relaxed and grew in confidence. He last rang at Spalding on 10 November and at the Whaplode practice on the 12th.

John was involved in the Elloe Deaneries Branch, for a while as Ringing Master, and on the committee. He organised branch practices, especially for young people, who particularly enjoyed the fish and chips.

There are lots of ringers who have rung with John. John rang two peals, and more than thirty quarter peals. Four of the quarter peals were rung at Spalding, with bands of local ringers.

A quarter peal attempt at Spalding in Johnís memory on 23 December failed, but another on 28 December was successful. The ringers involved in the two attempts were: Ian Ansell, Jim Benner, Brian Bunting, David Collin, Josh Doades, Alistair Donaldson, Penny Fountain, John Laud, Alan Payne, Joan Payne and Rhoda Reynolds.

On 4 January 2014 a peal lasting 2 hours 55 minutes was rung at Spalding in Johnís memory. It was the first peal in a new method, composed by Michael Maughan, and named Ffestiniog Alliance Major because John was not only a keen ringer, but also a railway enthusiast, who spent many hours on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales. The peal ringers, all members of the Lincoln Diocesan Guild, were: Robin H Rogers, Judith M Rogers, Andrew J Davey, James F Thorpe, Martin F Mitchell, Nicholas A Churchman, Michael Maughan (Conductor), and P Barry Jones.

Sue Slater (Tower Captain, Spalding St Mary & St Nicolas)