Obituary - Ron Ducker: A bright spot in life's rich tapestry.
Ron was born on 30th June 1931 probably in Sutton on Hull as the birth was registered in Sculcoates. He definitely lived his early life at Lowgate in Sutton. His father worked as a joiner for Sewells. Some of Ron's children remember going to the sawmill to collect sawdust for their guinea pigs before they realised the risks!
He learned to ring at Sutton after the war and joined the Yorkshire Association in December 1950. His first peal was Cambridge S Minor at North Cave on 17th November 1951.
Ron started work as an apprentice at White and Farrells where he excelled at setting little pieces of lead into printing blocks - even in completely foreign languages such as Russian. He studied at night classes to become a qualified lecturer at the Tech College, now Hull College.
His National Service in 1954/55 took him to Jamaica and South America. On his return he vowed never to travel abroad again as there were so many places to visit in Britain.
In January 1956 he married Freda and they went on to have 6 children: - Gwynneth, Sally, Linda, Keith, Judy and Helen.
As a ringer Ron excelled at ringing tenors and providing a natural, consistent rhythm with an apparent ease. Ian Campbell says "Ron was a great man and an exceptionally talented ringer, especially on tenors - I learned a lot from him". Praise indeed!
Ron's infectious enthusiasm put him at the forefront of the development of change-ringing during the 1950's and 1960's in this relatively isolated area of the East Riding. He held numerous posts in the Beverley and District and was also very active within the Yorkshire Association, holding the post of District secretary for some years. At this time the East Riding Ringers arranged ringing tours, travelling by bike and staying at youth hostels. On one of these Ron, his wife Freda and their young family arrived aboard his motor-bike and sidecar towing a trailer of camping gear. His comment that the bike's clutch was slipping on hills caused some amusement but the family completed the tour. Freda was also a competent ringer in the Sutton tradition and her participation in the tours was appreciated.
In total Ron rang 243 peal and these included the first of each Belfast and Double Glasgow in Yorkshire (early 1969). He was ringing master at Sutton on Hull for many years and woe betide anyone who turned up for a Friday night practice not knowing the special method! He represented the Beverley and District Society on the Central Council.
In 1972 Ron decided to take a break from ringing but his career went from strength to strength at the College, adapting to computerisation and laser printing, but eventually he had to give way to the march of progress and retired for the first time at the age of 52 - to play golf in Hornsea. They moved there to try and help Freda's asthma, from which she had suffered with all her life.
Ron took golf as seriously as he had ringing. He initially played at Sutton Park, where he became captain, before moving to Hornsea
Ron was extremely popular and was a regular fixture in the clubhouse and would greet all and sundry as they came into the bar. He was never known to refuse a Guinness, offered in some instances in the hope of securing an extra shot or two from the Handicap Secretary, a role that Ron performed for many years.
In 1986 he was elected Captain of Hornsea Golf Club, was President of the Hull & District Golf Association in about 2004, and in 2009, was nominated as Captain of Captains of the Hull & District Clubs. In addition to his duties as Handicap Secretary he served Hornsea Golf Club as a Director and was awarded Honorary Life Membership in 2012.
Whilst in Hornsea he got bored with just playing golf so he and Freda sold their bungalow and bought the wet fish shop, moving into the flat above. After a while Freda's asthma deteriorated and they got the travel bug and moved to Spain. In 1993 they returned to the UK for Freda to have a hip operation and that enabled Ron to take up ringing again. He rang several peals and quarters. After 6 years in Spain Freda sadly died from asthma and Ron made one or two return trips to the UK with the intention of moving back.
Fate had different plans as Ron met and married another ex-pat out in Spain. But that marriage was not a success and left Ron with few resources and he returned to Hornsea, initially to live in a caravan until two of his daughters bought him a flat. He took up ringing again until his last quarter in 2006 when he could no longer stand for long periods.
He enjoyed coming to ringing gatherings and striking competitions and clearly his hearing was still good. He came through to Beverley more than once for a pub lunch and then to listen to some handbell ringing. He also had visits to his flat from handbell bands.
His character was clear, straight and never subtle. Right on the nail with great potential for embarrassment. Peter Church remembers an incident at a Beverley dinner where Ron announced at volume "Peter Church fancies a Blue Nun". I recall being in a pub shortly after I started work in 1970. We'd lost a 12-bell peal at Hull and Ron said "come on Horton, let's see some of that pay packet passed over the bar". One time Alan Trebble had had a lift from Ron to a meeting. On leaving the pub and getting into the car Ron asked which way. His navigator pointed and Ron drove straight over the village green to the horror of his passengers. The amount of Guinness consumed then would be illegal now!
Howard Palmer sums up very eloquently: - Ron was a man for whom there was great affection from all who knew him, whether as teenagers learning from him the art of campanology or as golfers enjoying his company at the bar. He will be sorely missed.
Roddy Horton with lots of help from: - Gwynneth Moffat (nee Ducker), John Rank, Howard Palmer, Peter Church, Alan Trebble, Ian Campbell, John Atkinson and Hornsea Golf Club.