15th September 2023 – Dale Barton


I am now the oldest member of my family and am certainly at a stage when I do not take health for granted, but work on it. I realise that I am going to die. Ringing at a couple of practices locally, I noticed that I was the oldest person in the tower. As far as ringing is concerned this is a matter of rejoicing for me. There will be the ringing of church bells after me.

Ringing has usually been a joy and a pleasure. But it has also been a contribution to the life of the church into which I was ordained fifty years ago. I try to ring every Sunday. It is the public voice of the church.

As a parish priest it has often been my privilege to accompany people who are dying. Sometimes hospitals have made this difficult. Someone who has worshipped for sixty years in the church you are leading, and you get the “Who are you? Does the family know you are here?” treatment. At other times there is an honest acknowledgement by staff of what is happening, and careful consideration.

For me, when the time comes, I ask for a Woodland Burial, not the waiting for a time of Municipal convenience with a final burst of three months’ worth of carbon footprint.

May the bells of Heaven be Taylor's
(Chewton Mendip, Skipton, Bradford)
With the Cambridge printer's tune,
A joyful voice says "Enter"
We've prepared for you a room.

But if the bells are Warner's
Or the Chichester archaeologist's eight,
The final point of arrival,
Will be at another estate.

Meanwhile there is Jesus’s story to tell to as many who will listen. There is a wife to love, sons and a grand-daughter to see, birds to watch, books to read, beer to drink, prayers to pray and bells to ring.

Dale Barton – Guild Ringing Master