Maureen Dawn Basford
21/8/1938 - 17/1/2021
Maureen joined the Guild at Dallington in 1980 when she lived at 191 Weedon Road, Northampton and remained a member there until moving her attention to Harlestone in 1995 having moved to grandly titled Thimble Hall, 601 Harlestone Road, Northampton in 1986.
She had her first ringing lessons from Michael and Mary Roberts, who rang at Dallington in those days. Michael conducted Maureen’s first quarter peal on August 18, 1982 when she rang the treble to two methods of doubles. A performance that she repeated for the Queen Mother’s 85th birthday on August 4, 1985. Not until 1997 did Maureen ring her third and last recorded quarter peal and that was at Harlestone on July1, Plain Bob Doubles half-muffled in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed.
Maureen was tower captain and keen trainer at Dallington from around 1987 until 1994, when she left and took on Harlestone. The reason for her leaving was that the PCC refused to accept her advice that sound proofing was needed to deal with a strong but reasonable complaint from a very near neighbour. The PCC were obliged by court order to install sound proofing. “I lost my practice night and after 27 years in my Parish there are those who no longer speak to me, as I was judged on the neighbour’s side” she wrote in The Ringing World 1994 p1184.
Maureen sent several more articles to The Ringing World and they were useful in producing this biography! She was also the author of 'The Bells of St Andrews Harlestone' in 2014 and 'The Going Down of the Sun' in 2019. She was also a supporter of the South Midlands Barn Owl Trust.
Maureen attended a weekend ringing course in 1995 at Fittleworth, Sussex, perhaps as reinforcement for her indomitable spirit and enthusiasm for teaching new bands in the years to follow.
In 1996, she taught a children’s band at Piddington on Saturday mornings and reported RW p1088 that it rang for service on September 8. She taught a group of children and adults at Church Brampton who all rang for the Advent and Christingle Service in 1997 RW 1999 p140.
Harlestone bells, with a 20cwt tenor, were not the easiest but Maureen taught many adults to handle them competently including five ladies ready to usher in the millennium. These joined the Ladies Guild at its Autumn 2001 meeting held at their home tower.
At East Haddon a senior group of volunteers decided to learn to ring in 2005 in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s momentous victory at Trafalgar. “The audience of 40 enjoyed the experience and the newly formed band were determined to continue and recruit more ringers – a fitting tribute to the skill, patience, tenacity and sheer brutality of Maureen!” RW2006 p24
After ringing-in the new millennium, New Year’s Days became an annual ringing and social occasion at Harlestone Church for the next dozen years and more. In 2010 there were some 100 or so ringing friends and local people and in 2012 the East Haddon ringers joined in.
In 2012 Maureen resigned all her church duties at Harlestone after a dispute with the incumbent but retained her membership as an unattached member of the Northampton Branch.
Maureen served the branch as a committee member in 1985-6, 1991-2, as GMC Rep 1993-4 and Press Correspondent 1994-9. In 2011 she was elected a Life Honorary Member of the Guild, for service to the branch recognising her indefatigable training of bellringers by the process that she detailed in The Ringing World 1992 p 193 of talking and encouraging recruits through the process from raising and lowering to ringing without her touching the rope.
A quarter peal was arranged especially to celebrate Maureen’s 70th birthday and typical of Maureen, at the conclusion, on opening the doors of the ground-floor ringing chamber, there was a burst of applause from Maureen and many of her current learners!