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Gilbert Thurlow was curate at All Saints before the war. So were many others, but he kept in touch by reading our magazine until his death. He was also a ringer. I met him before I came here, or knew he had been here. As a very junior member of the Cambridge University Guild, I saw him as one of that august band who had gone before, but occasionally visited those of us just setting out into the world.
Over the years I bumped into him several times at Guild functions, while his career in the Church took him from Yarmouth to Gloucester and finally to Chichester for retirement. For over a quarter of a century, he always seemed much the same. He was very approachable, and had a dry but benign sense of humour. His manner and speech were appealingly precise. I remember at a meeting in the late seventies he described the churches we might visit during the Guild week he was to organise in Gloucester the following year. He described with great relish not only the delights of the bells, but the beauty of the architecture, the quality of the teas, the characters of the incumbents. Gilbert saw life very much in the round.
In 1988 when the All Saints ringers went to ring a quarter peal at Chichester Cathedral for the Sunday afternoon service during our choir’s week singing there, Gilbert was delighted to turn out to meet us and wish us well. He had never met most of the band, but he treated us all as long absent friends.
He was a life member of the Central Council of Church Bellringers, having been its president from 1963 to 1969, a position of respect at the pinnacle of the ringing establishment, held by only a dozen people during the Council’s hundred years existence. He remained an active participant, and made articulate and highly pertinent speeches at last year’s Council meeting. It is sad that having done so much during his life for the ringing exercise, he died a few short weeks before the Council celebrated its centenary in London at the end of May. He will be fondly remembered by those who knew him.
John Harrison (May 1991)
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