Alfred George Frank Spiers MBE 1925-2019

Frank in 2011Frank was born in January 1925 the second child of Alfred and Victoria Spiers who kept the Bull’s Head in Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire. His younger brother, Fred, in due course took over the tenancy from his mother. The tenancy had passed to his mother on the death of his father when Frank was 9 years old. Frank could often be seen behind the bar helping his brother and this became the watering hole of the ringers.

From a very early age Frank was a boy chorister at St Laurence Church just over the road from home. He never moved far from his beloved Church. At the age of about 12 Frank was invited into the tower by the then captain, Arthur Shorey.

After schooling in the Village Frank, at the age of 14, started work at the BSA factory in Redditch later moving to the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge finally working on car bodies as a sheet metal worker. He initially cycled the 12 miles to Redditch before moving to a motor cycle which he subsequently added a side car. In the 1950s this was exchanged for a car. After being demobbed Frank returned to The Austin and remained there until retirement.

At the age of 18, when called up for military service, he decided to join the Grenadier Guards and after training served time in Germany finally returning to Caterham where he was a Drill Instructor until he was demobbed. He was very proud of his time in the Grenadier guards, a member of the local branch of the Grenadier Guards Association and almost always wearing his Guards tie. No surprise our sallies are the colours of the Grenadier Guards! Prior to Military Service, Frank was an amateur boxer something which he was able to continue with whilst serving with the Guards, representing them in various competitions.

In 1953 Frank married Gian, a marriage which was to last until 2002 when Gian died. They had two children, Jill and John. Frank was very proud of his children and their achievements.

In 1995 Frank was awarded the MBE for ‘’services to Bidford on Avon’’. Locally Frank was known as Mr Bidford, a tribute to all the village organisations to which he was involved. He was a Parish Councillor for 45 years, a Church Warden and a member of the Royal British Legion. Perhaps I should add here that Frank enjoyed his football as a youngster playing for the local team and later as a referee travelling to various games in the area. He was also involved in raising funds for the village cricket pavilion. Sport would often be a topic of conversation with fellow ringers. Space does not allow me to list all his activities during his lifetime.

Returning now to Frank’s ringing and looking at Tower records, it appears that Frank’s first quarter peal was in 1955. Ringing at Bidford was rejuvenated in the 1970s when Frank asked Michael Homans how to teach new ringers. This was the start of the new band.

In the 1980s Fred and Joan Munday, Pam Craney, myself and my husband all moved into the village. This was really the moment when Frank was able to progress and enjoy his ringing. In the period to 2006, which was his last quarter peal he rang a minimum of 58 quarter peals, conducted one of Plain Bob Doubles. On Bidford bells Frank would normally be ringing the 7th or the Tenor. Frank was not a peal ringer but did ring 9 peals with Peter Border and Chris Mew conducting them.

Whilst Frank did not take office he was a member for over 50 years of both the W&DCRA and the Coventry Guild of Bellringers, also joining the Fours Shires Guild and would always try and attend meetings. He enjoyed the monthly outings with the FSG and in the early years he would have a day out with Gian sorting out the lunchtime pub. At the May outing Grandsire Doubles was rung as attribute to him, a method which he would ring on these days out and would sometimes call. He would often comment that ringing took him to ‘some lovely parts part of the country’.

In late April 2019 Frank was taken to hospital and subsequently discharged to the care home home in Bidford, where he had been for just over a year, where he died peacefully on 7th May.

The congregation of 240, for his funeral, shows the regard and affection with which Frank was held. There was half muffled ringing prior to the Service with the local band ringing Frank out of Church. Whilst the burial was taking place in the Churchyard next to the Church a quarter peal was rung.

Sandra Parker

Bidford on Avon, Warwickshire St Laurence
Wednesday, 29 May 2019 in 47m (14)
1273 Grandsire Triples
Composed by C Montague Meyer
1 Richard Lewis-Skeath
2 Annie Hall
3 Karen French
4 Roger Hunt
5 Ray Sheasby
6 Mike Chester
7 Simon Rogers (C)
8 Richard Spray
Rung immediately after the funeral service of A G Frank Spiers MBE (1925-2019).
Frank was born in Bidford and it was his home for his whole life. He was fully involved in village life throughout his life including playing and refereeing football, working on the parish council and being fully involved as a parishioner at this church. He learnt to ring in 1939 and was tower captain for may years, only giving up ringing when not well enough to do so. He was awarded the MBE in 1995 for services to Bidford.
Further details of Frank's life can be found at https://online.fliphtml5.com/zgdgo/ouvy
400th quarter - 3.

The Quarter Peal Band

Richard, Karen, Richard, Mike, Annie, Simon, Roger, Ray.