The following obituary was published in The Ringing World of 17th July 1992 (Page 707) and the 1992 Annual Report of the Bedfordshire Association of Church Bell Ringers (Page 17)
For all but the first two years of his life, Ralph Chapman lived in the village of Biddenham, just outside Bedford. His first connection with Kempston was his attendance at Bedford Road School, where legend has it there remains to this day, tucked down behind the matchboarding on the wall of the boys’ cloakroom, a cane which Ralph considered was being administered too enthusiastically and far too frequently.
During the war he worked in the foundry of a local engineering company before moving on to drive heavy lorries transporting grain for a corn merchant based in Bromham. In more recent times he was a television service engineer working for one of the national renting companies. He began ringing at Bromham after the wartime ban, and with Frank Tysoe of Bromham cycled many miles to attend meetings and join practices. He rang his first peal at Willington in 1945.
One practice night at Bromham in 1980, just after we had installed two trebles at Kempston, I asked Ralph to come over and have a ring on the ten. He was very reluctant, and although pressed on several subsequent occasions it was some months later that he finally arrived on a Wednesday evening. It must have been one of our better nights, the Grandsire Caters was magic, and at the time the Three Horseshoes was still open, the landlord of that establishment having been an accomplice of Ralph’s during the episode of the disappearing cane. At any rate Ralph enjoyed himself, and from then on he rarely missed a Wednesday practice or Sunday Evensong ringing. For Sunday mornings his loyalty remained to his home tower, Bromham, and since they do not ring in the evenings this worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
Although strictly speaking he was a visitor to our tower, he was so regular and fitted in so well with us that we came to consider him as being one of us. As a mark of our affection for him, a good peal of Grandsire Triples was rung in place of the practice on Wednesday, 3rd June. To use one of his own expressions, “he was a good ol’ boy”.
Kempston, Beds Wednesday 3rd June 1992
A Peal of 5040 Grandsire Triples in 2 Hours 53 Minutes
(Composed by J J Parker)
1 Clifford W Izzard
2 Charlotte M Smith
3 Anthony M Smith
4 Derek A Hammond
5 Philip M Haslam
6 Richard J Hillson
7 Andrew M Keech (C)
8 David A Potts
In memory of Ralph Chapman