Allan Paton obituary

Allan A Paton
Allan A Paton

Allan was born in Clydebank, the eldest of 3 brothers. He described living in a tenement block, sharing a room with his brothers and mother and a single tap and toilet with everyone else on their floor. His father was away in the Merchant Navy for much of his childhood. A bright lad, at the age of 18 years he realized that he needed to leave Glasgow and lose his strong accent if he was to have a career and moved south to Cheltenham to start an apprenticeship as a Precision Engineer at Smiths Clock and Watch factory.

While singing in choirs and performing Gilbert and Sullivan he met his wife Beryl, a local girl and they had 2 daughters, Susan and Nicola.

While in Cheltenham he was taught to ring by Cyril Wratton at the Minster Church and spent much of his time ringing with Cyril and Marjorie, Valerie Willard and Geoff and Shirley Drew. He rang in the peal of Minimus at Randwick in May 1961 which led to CCCBR revising their rules about the acceptance of Minimus peals, as described by Chris Pickford in the Ringing World of 20th Nov 2020, p 1138.

In 1963 the family moved to Mitcheldean where Allan took up a post at the Rank Xerox factory. On the first evening there they received a visit from the rector, Rev E W P Ainsworth. The 8 bells were being rehung and he had heard Allan was a ringer and asked him to teach a band. With characteristic pragmatism Allan decided that if he taught his own family he would then have half a band. He then ‘roped’ in Sue and Niki’s school friends and so a very young band was born. He was a stickler for good handling and striking and every Saturday saw us all pile into the family motor home to visit practices and meetings across a wide area. An innovative teacher, he was using ideas and methods that ART seemed to have pinched 50 years later!

He and Beryl brewed beer from scratch to the tune of 5 gallons a week. After Wednesday evening practices all were invited back to their small house to have a pint or 2 or 3…. (before the days of breathalyzers). This was a shrewd move as it soon attracted ringers who came to practice nights to help and then enjoy a free drink afterwards. George Cousins, Austin Wingate, Tom Locke, Roman Sadowski and many others were regular visitors and the band progressed quickly, ringing quarter peals and winning striking competitions. At one time he led a young band who came second only to Bristol Cathedral in the Gloucester and Bristol Association competition. A school band rang for their local carol service.

He was elected to SRCY in 1972. Although much happier ringing quarter peals and helping others, he rang 13 peals, all but one for the Gloucester and Bristol Association. Regularly, he was a helper on the Hereford Course.

On moving to Bovey Tracey in the 1980’s he would travel to Exeter to ring and became a member of the band at Heavitree. He loved the high standard of ringing and was most proud when a band he was in won both the method and call change district striking competitions one year.

Away from ringing Allan was always keen to learn new things and was a perfectionist. He taught himself to play the guitar, he learned German, he potholed in the Forest of Dean, learned to read music and sang in an A cappella choir. He took up sailing, something he was still doing until a few months before his death and a passion both his daughters have continued. He was a strong supporter of the Jubilee Sailing Trust taking part in several long trips on the Lord Nelson. He also flew gliders and fixed wing aircraft.

On moving to Builth Wells in 2005 he found accessing towers was becoming physically difficult and gave up ringing. This was a great regret to him but he loved keeping up to date with ringing news and gossip.

Allan’s second wife, Christel sadly passed away in December and he followed her two months later. He died peacefully at home sitting in his favourite armchair with a pint beside him, the way he would have wished to go.

Sue Carter

With thanks to Wendy and Ian Campbell and David Bath for their input.