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Society of Royal Cumberland Youths

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Muriel Paved the Way

An edition of the Ringing World 30 years ago contains a poem, the first verse of which reads as follows:

To strike a blow for 'Women's Lib'
Was Muriel's inclination,
For years she worked towards her goal
With ardent application.
Nine hundred peals and almost there,
A final cut essential,
To cut to zero with one blow
The masculine differential.

The same Ringing World contains details of a very significant peal of a new method, Northfield S Maximus, rung at St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham by the "Thursday Band", conducted by Rod Pipe - nothing too unusual so far! - but this was no ordinary peal. This was Muriel Reay's 1000th peal - the first lady to reach this total.

As the 30th anniversary of this achievement approached it was felt that it should not pass unnoticed and plotting began.Muriel has been a valued member since of the SRCY since 1952, so it was fitting that a band of SRCY lady 1000 pealers was assembled to mark the occasion and the bells of All Saints, Worcester were booked for Saturday 24th February 2007, the actual 30th anniversary.Margaret Edwards' ingenuity was put to the test as she was commissioned to drive Muriel to Worcester on the day but without telling her why!

The band met bright and early, together with Derek Sibson, a ringing groupie for the day allegedly for the first time since 1960-something! It was most appropriate that Derek was present, as he was invited to represent the Cumberlands in Muriel's 1000th peal.

And so a very good peal of Cambridge S Maximus was scored, fittingly with a composition by Rod Pipe.

Muriel arrived to hear the last hour of the peal, having been told that there was some ringing in Worcester that she might like to listen to!! It's probably fair to say that it's not often that Margaret is so economical with her words! It wasn't until Muriel arrived and met Derek in the car park listening to the ringing with two other lady 1000 pealer, Joan Summerhayes and Margaret Chapman, that the real reason for her visit became clear!

After the peal Muriel was presented with a card with a picture of St Philips, Birmingham and details of both her 1000th peal and the peal rung in her honour, signed by the band.We all adjourned to the pub for lunch and plenty of reminiscing.

In the past 30 years, over 40 other women ringers have reached the magic total. However, as the poem "Muriel Paves the Way" says of Muriel's 1000th peal:

This feat can never be surpassed.
As logic soon reveals
There's only one FIRST lady
Can ring a thousand peals.

Photo of the band

Back row (l-r): Alison Regan, Claire Roulstone, Rebecca Cox, Pauline Champion, Linda Garton, Frances Dodds.
Front row (l-r): Jane Sibson, Yvonne Towler, Shirley McGill, Muriel Reay, Pat Newton, Jenny Town, Catherine Merlane.

Society of Royal Cumberland Youths
WORCESTER, All Saints (20)
Saturday, February 24th, 2007
In 3 hours 14 minutes
5042 CAMBRIDGE S MAXIMUS
Composed by R W Pipe
1. E Jane Sibson
2. Yvonne A Towler
3. Shirley E McGill
4. Patricia M Newton
5. Jennifer A Town
6. Catherine N Merlane (c)
7. Frances Dodds
8. Linda M Garton
9. Pauline C Champion
10. Rebecca J Cox
11. Claire F Roulstone
12. Alison K Regan
Rung by a band, all of whom have rung 1000 peals, to mark the 30th anniversary of Muriel Reay's 1000th peal - the first lady to reach this total.