It is with deep sadness that I pass on the news that John Barnes of Chelsfield died peacefully at home on Saturday 19 October. Some of you will know that he had been ill for a few months, but had deteriorated rapidly over the last few weeks. He would have been 86 later this month.
John learned to ring in Norfolk as a teenager just after WW2, and came to Chelsfield in the late 50’s, so he was a ringer and member of the congregation at St Martin’s for over 60 years. He was regularly a member of our striking competition band, and our success in recent times was due in no small part to his excellent striking and ability to give a succinct piece of constructive feedback. He could hear bells even when he couldn’t hear words because of his increasing deafness. He was a member of the St Martin in the Fields band and Society of Royal Cumberland Youths and joined their ringing sessions whenever possible, till very recently. He was a dedicated member of the Sunday service ringing circuit in London, and up to and including this year he would come to ring for the early Communion service at Chelsfield on Christmas Day and Easter Day mornings before driving up to London (no trains) and joining in the service ringing at several churches.
He was passionate about ringing and particularly about restoring difficult or unringable bells, and he did great work for many years as a member of the CCCBR Bell Restoration (Funds) Committee. They have posted their own tribute here cccbr.org.uk/2019/10/20/john-barnes/ It was our annual Ringers’ Sunday evensong at St Martin’s yesterday, so we were able to commemorate John in prayers, singing and of course ringing. There was no more fitting tribute than the address by the guest speaker, as Neil Jones talked about the ’12 in 21′ Rochester Cathedral Bells Centenary Project. John would have wholeheartedly approved.
As and when we are given more information about funeral arrangements I will pass it on.
Rest in peace and rise in glory, John.