Ringing World Vol 19, Iss 695, p443,

  28th June 1924


  The totally unexpected death of Mr. Sam Thomas, after a week or so of illness, which suddenly struck him down when apparently in vigorous health, came as a great shock to all who knew him, and to some, the first intimation of anything amiss was the notification of the funeral arrangements. These facts to some extent prevented a larger attendance on Saturday, June 28th, though the gathering was large enough to show the great regard in which the late Mr. Thomas was held. Between 60 and 70 ringers attended the funeral, in addition to many other friends.

  In the long history of change ringing in the district, few more simple, and at the same time, more impressive funerals can have been known than that which accompanied the passing of Sam Thomas at the Cemetery of Intake. As the last change of a wellstruck course of Grandsire Caters — rung on the handbells over the open grave — died away: as the last line of Toplady’s immortal hymn, ‘Rise to all eternity,’ sung with faltering voices, drifted into a scarcely audible Amen; and with the concluding words of the beautiful address by the Rev. J. R. Lee Nicholls still in mind, hardly one among those present could admit to a steady voice or a clear eye.

  The cortege, with the chief mourners, bearers, and a number of ringing friends, met at the deceased's residence, at 36, Thomas Street, about 1.30 p.m., and arriving at Intake shortly after 2 p.m. was met by a large gathering of ringing associates from Bolsover, Bradford, Derby, Dore, Chesterfield, Doncaster, Ecclesfield, Eckington. Norton, Rawmarsh. Rotherham, Sheffield (Cathedral, St. Maries (R.C.), Ranmoor, All Saints, Pitsmoor, and Handsworth), and other places.

  The burial service was conducted by the Vicar of Ranmoor (the Rev. J. R. Lee Nicholls, M.A.), who, in the Cemetery Chapel, gave a most touching address.

  The Vicar recalled how, a little over a year since, at Ranmoor, when the Bishop of Sheffield (who would have been present then but for a previous engagement) had just concluded a presentation on behalf of the Sheffield District Society to 'him who is in all our thoughts' — he —  usually so ready of speech —  in replying — found his heart too full for words. ‘And that,’ added the Vicar. ‘is how I find myself now.’

  A telling reference to Mr. Thomas’s great abilities — a man endowed with a wonderful memory, a mathematical mind which, given the opportunity, might have carried him far in this life, great will power and tenacity, and a power of drawing men to him, he was with it all a religious man. As a boy he had sung in the choir of his native church at Wath and often had the Vicar, in the pulpit at Ranmoor, heard from the ringers' seat close by, his strong voice joining in the singing. After a feeling reference to his last illness, tho preacher urged his hearers to rise above all the sadness and sorrow of the present; not for a moment to wish him back from the glories that are his, but to remember him as he was — strong and capable, and to think of him when ringing forth their changes; as he is, in Paradise, their silent listener.

  The coffin was borne from the chapel to the graveside by six of his ringing friends—Messrs. J. E. Lewis Cockey (Dore), Charles Haynes (Ranmoor), Robert Harrison (St. Maries), William Biggin (Norton), and Leonard Charlesworth and John Thorpe (Cathedral).

  After the committal and Benediction, the Vicar asked those present to join in Mr. Thomas’s favounte hymn,  'Jesu, Lover of my soul'; and this was followed by a well-struck plain course of Grandsire Caters by Messrs. John Thorpe 1—2, George Lewis 3—4, Robert Harrison 5—6, Arthur Knights 7—8, and William Burgar 9—10.

  There were a number of beautiful wreaths, including one from the officers and members of the Sheffield District Society; St. John's, Ranmoor; St. Andrew's, Derby; and the Landsdown Sick Society.

  Amongst those present were : Yorkshire Association: Messrs. Frank Willey (vice-president), J . Cotterill and Hardcastle (Bradford), and Colin Harrison (Sheffield). Sheffield District Society: Messrs. George Lewis (president) and Fred Watkinson (late president), Messrs. Arthur Knights, John Holman, John Flint and George Hawksworth (vice-presidents), Mr. Thos. Wm. Chown (secretary), Mr. J. E. Lewis Cockey (treasurer), and Mr. Charles Haynes (trustee).   All the Sheffield towers were fully represented, among those from the Cathedral being Messrs. S. Palmer, A. Craven. J. Thorpe and W. Burgar. From Ranmoor : W. S. Plant and J. Osguthorpc. From Rotherham : Colin Ryder. Norton : W . Biggin and T. Lee. Eckington : P. Jervis, etc.
  Apologies for absence were received from the Rev. A. T. Beeston (New Mills), Messrs. H. Haigh (Worksop), A. C. Wright (Darley Dale), A. Ward (Derby), F. Hill (Butterley), J. Paget (Derby), C. D. Potter (Barnsley), J. Row. and many others.

  During the evening the bells of most of the churches in the district were rung half-muffled, and at Ranmoor, a representative band, consisting of Messrs. John Holman (Cathedral) treble, George Hawksworth (Doncaster) 2, George Lewis (conductor, Ecclesfield) 3, Robert Harrison (St. Maries) 4, J. A. Lewis Cockey (Dore) 5, Chas. Haynes (Ranmoor) 6, William Biggin (Norton) 7, and Walter Allwood (Chesterfield) tenor, attempted a peal of Bob Major, which, after two attempts and a total of over three hours’ ringing, came to grief owing to the 7th rope slipping the wheel.

 And so we leave him — for the present; hardly yet able to realise that he is gone — all that is mortal of him, on the lonely, bleak and wind-swept slopes of Intake, far away from the bells he loved so much. The man himself — still rugged, masterful, humorous, kindly, godfearing — the silent listener ’—

‘Not spilt like water on the ground,
Not wrapt in dreamless sleep profound,
Not left to lie like fallen tree,
Not dead — but living unto Thee.’

J . E. L. C.

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