Read more…"/> Jessie Vidgeon dies aged 86 – Kent County Association of Change Ringers

Jessie, born 11th July 1920, was a member of the KCACR for over 60 years, joining in 1946 at her home tower of Hoo. She considered herself as primarily a Sunday service call change ringer, although she could manage some of the simpler methods if really pushed.

Jessie was taught to ring at Hoo St Werburgh by her husband to be, Allan, at about the age of 17 years. Much of their early courtship was done around the local towers of the district and it was common to see them at Hoo on a Sunday morning, then at Rochester to ring at the Cathedral, followed by a short walk up the hill to ring at St Margaret’s; “Anti-clockwise in those days – the right way round”, Jessie always said. St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham was also visited on a regular basis to help with weddings, service ringing and the occasional ringers’ tea at a meeting.

During her ringing career, along with Allan, they taught countless people to handle a bell, many of whom still ring today. Her efforts during the fund raising for the restoration and augmentation of Hoo bells were second to none and her living room was always full of home made preserves and numerous other items, ready for sale at the boot fairs and church events that were arranged to raise the money. When new trebles were required for the augmentation Allan and Jessie donated a bell (see for details), and recently Jessie donated a new set of ropes in memory of her husband.

After Allan died in 2004 she was diagnosed with ovarian bowel and stomach cancer, and a year later lung cancer was added to the list. Cruel; as she led a very healthy lifestyle on the farm, rarely had an alcoholic drink and never even had a cigarette between her lips. The doctors promised Jessie “a good twelve months” and after two long series of chemotherapy she slowly lost her strength and was unable to fight the disease any longer. After an enjoyable Christmas with her family Jessie spent her last few days comfortably at the Wisdom Hospice, Rochester where she died peacefully on 14th January aged 86 years – having managed 28 months before finally loosing the battle.

Arthur Vidgeon