Gerald Hodgson Sewell: 7th April 1941 – 22 February 2024

The following tributes to Gerald have been received from his fellow bellringers:

Gerald Sewell – a farewell to a fellow ringing friend

My first memories of Gerald go back to a Guild Meeting at Crosthwaite, Keswick last century. Some complicated 8 bell ringing had just taken place and the call was for a rounds and call changes band. Gerald, who must have been learning at the time, commented that it was time for the experts to ring, said in fun of course.

Our paths crossed many times after that and when Stephen’s ringing became more adventurous both Gerald and of course Susan were involved in various quarter peal attempts. By the time of Stephen’s move to Sheffield we had been ringing quarters for a while together. From 2014 both Gerald and Susan became firm supporters of Brampton’s quarter peal band on a Sunday afternoon.

This entailed a logistical & organised pick up of band members, Gerald & Susan started off from Aspatria, they picked up Alison at Wigton and then came to our house at Durdar. A pipe was always ignited outside our house by Gerald and after the required time span we would all then go to Brampton. Timings had to factor in that pipe!

We spent many happy hours of quarter peal ringing with a long list of new doubles methods to be learnt and mastered. Gerald was happy on ringing any bell and always starting off with a full mouth of Werther’s Originals. Was this an alternative to a nicotine rush I ask?

From 2014 to 2020 we rang some 120 quarter peals together, the majority doubles but my record book shews that 14 were of Minor. It was an enjoyable time and pleasant to be with friends who took good striking and a fast pace as a norm. Gerald when covering was always to remind me that we had just finished our last extent of 120’s and the 60 was looming up.

Our last quarter & in fact ring together was on Sunday 15th March 2020 of St Martin & St Simon’s doubles, with Gerald on the third. Covid restrictions were soon to follow.

I take it as a privilege to have known Gerald and rung with him over the years and I have many happy memories of those times. As to the pipe……well!

Michael Hall


I first remember Gerald as a youngster being taken to a Guild meeting at Aspatria and Wigton back in 2000. Donning his hat, pipe, and that distinguishable moustache, he was certainly someone you wouldn’t forget. Our paths crossed regularly during the 2000s, ringing a handful of QPs midway through the decade and, more often than not, seeing himself and Susan at various ringing meetings. He certainly gave a lot to the exercise, whether this was supporting training days, completing QP bands, or offering transport to those who needed it. He was a highly witty individual without having to try, and whenever I visited him and Susan in Aspatria, there was always a highly entertaining story or comment he had.

There are many ringing stories that can be linked to Gerald. His first peal at Cockermouth in 1981 nearly didn’t happen as the clapper on, I believe, the bell he was ringing, flew out of the louvres that spectacularly it ended up on the other side of the churchyard. Gareth Evans, in Gareth style, rushed it down to a local firm and had it fixed and reinstalled within the hour enabling the attempt to go ahead. Gerald rang 58 peals, the majority of which were in Cumbria, and included the Guild’s first 12 bell peal at Accrington in 1985. It was mentioned very fittingly in the eulogy that he remains the only Guild trained ringer to complete the Standard 8 Surprise Major to peals – a real achievement considering this was accomplished at the tail end of his peal ringing career at Egremont in 1987. But, of course, like his first peal, this occasion did not go without incident and remains a Guild legend. London Surprise Major is arguably the hardest of the Standard 8, with fish tails and places casting you out into a lot of wrong hunting (think backstroke to handstroke, rather than the normal way round), as well as the coursing order appearing in reverse. Even the most experienced ringers and conductors can make themselves look very silly ringing it, with all it taking is someone to blink and for it to collapse like a souffle. There was no opportunity for Gerald (and Susan) to practise it beforehand, they simply turned up having learned it thoroughly. During the course of the peal, the then vicar of Egremont opened the ringing room door and began congratulating the band for their efforts, and enquiring how they were getting on. This was met with the conductor, the late Gordon Halls of Derby, thanking him and telling him emphatically to “bugger off!”. Unbelievably, the peal was still scored.

My proudest ringing achievement with Gerald was seeing him through a QP of Stedman Triples in 2014, with his previous QP of this being all the way back in 1983.

Gerald is certainly someone the Guild will remember fondly, have many memorable stories linked to him, but also someone who gave a great deal and simply got on with it.

Stephen Hall


Gerald H Sewell

I first met Gerald at Accrington for a peal of Plain Bob Maximus in June 1985.

Our paths next crossed after we moved to Cumbria in September 2012. Subsequently Gerald and I rang 25 quarter peals together, ranging from doubles to surprise major. We also bumped into each other at CDG meetings and local practices.

I remember discussing the ins and outs of Safeguarding and studying through the Open University with him on several occasions. He also shared about the youth group in Aspatria, with which he was involved. One time at Arlecdon he mentioned the graves belonging to his ancestors.

I’ll miss his quiet presence, humour and intelligent discussions. And his pipe which was always with him.

Jane Holland.


Gerald Sewell was a very accomplished bellringer, ringing peals of Surprise Major, Grandsire Caters and many minor method peals.
He was ever cheerful and was a relaxed person, often chuckling on bell 4 at Brampton.

I was on the committee when Gerald was instrumental in designing the safeguarding policy. This was a tremendous amount of work on his part.

I loved ringing with him.

John Proudfoot


Gerald H Sewell

I remember first ringing with Gerald around 1980-1982, when the then Cumbrian Association organised Open Days, with as many towers as possible in the County being available for an hour each.  Gerald and Susan were brave in coming to join us, as that Association was not popular at the time!   (The Cumbrian Association was put into Trusteeship in the mid-1990’s and the funds donated to Bell Restoration.)

I remember John Whitelock and Gerald debating if they ought to ring at Greystoke (then a tricky ring of four) or not.  The tower had been advertised as a difficult one but they turned up to ring anyway!  What they thought about Brough (then a near-unringable very heavy ring of four), advertised as ‘only suitable for experienced ringers’ I don’t know.  Gerald certainly had a spirit of adventure!

I rang 25 peals with Gerald, of his total of 58 peals.  The first was only Gerald’s second peal, and it was one of Grandsire Caters at Kendal in June 1981, his first peal having been at Cockermouth earlier that year.  That was one of Grandsire Triples, which method accounted for 14 of his peals.

Most of Gerald’s peals were in Cumbria and the nearby area, although he did ring a couple in Derbyshire/Leicestershire – no doubt when one of the reunions with the Derbyshire ringers took place; all stemming back to the installation of the Derby bells at St James, Whitehaven, in 1978, a successful project which Roger Wetenhall initiated.

The late Jack McTear and Gareth and Pat Evans were among Gerald’s leading peal ringers, together with Martin and Mary Snape and Tom Metcalfe.  The years have passed but I am sure we are all thankful for our early friends and mentors in the Exercise.

Gerald was also dedicated in the local ringing scene, ringing at Whitehaven and other local towers and taking part in the activities of the Carlisle Diocesan Guild.  He had not rung any peals since 1987 and I had not seen him for some years.  Susan rang rather more peals than Gerald including some in more recent years.

An amusing incident to conclude with; I had asked both Gerald and Susan to ring a peal with our band at Millom on Boxing Day 1984.  Millom are a very fine six, although challenging.  I was surprised they agreed to ring on Boxing Day, especially as we then were informed that they were ringing a further peal at Millom only two days later!  Upon mentioning this, I remember Susan saying that I could ask them for peals around Christmas anytime as (in her words) ‘I hate Christmas, it’s horrible’!’

We are sad at the loss of Gerald but assure Susan of our thoughts and prayers at this sad time.

Kevin M Price.


I met Gerald when I joined the Guild Committee. It was immediately apparent that here was a man with a rigorous attention to detail, which was an invaluable asset in his role as Safeguarding Officer. Gerald was kind and supportive to everyone; and I am grateful for encouraging words and emails from him whilst I found my way around the workings of the Committee.

At his funeral, it was obvious from the Eulogy the breadth of Gerald’s interests, knowledge and passions. Bellringing was an important part of his life, but he embraced so much more. It is appropriate that the ‘Final Words’ were given by a colleague from Aspatria Dreamscheme, Linda Hunter. She described how he made a difference to people’s lives – particular those of young people. That is a fine legacy and a wonderful way to be remembered.

Sue Thomas


Gerald (and Susan’s) long term commitment to the Guild was invaluable. Gerald’s knowledge of Safeguarding guidance and law was vast, and he had great patience in guiding the committee through the latest nuances of the safeguarding policy.

It says a lot about both Gerald and Susan’s sense of duty and humility that when offered life memberships for their service to the Guild they declined them advising that they were just doing the job they were elected to.

There are few (if any) members who are as well known across the Guild, or have done as much for the Guild as Gerald did, let alone those who are “unattached” to a tower.

Gerald will be very sorely missed.

Ruth Gilbert – Guild Master