The whole of the ringing community has been coming to terms in various ways to the untimely death of Alison Regan. As the ringing tributes come in, it is clear that she was one of those people who 'influenced a generation', even those who hardly knew her.
She is perhaps most renowned for her exploits on big bells, which showed her immaculate style and high standards to best advantage. Of course, as with all ringers worthy of emulation, she applied these standards to all aspects of her ringing, including handbell ringing.
One of my earliest memories of ringing was as a very novice handbell ringer on her first trip to the UK, where I rang a peal of Plain Bob with Roger Bailey and Alison Surry (as she then was). Alison at the time was wearing a long blue skirt which had two faded arcs just above the knees - exactly at the point where her handbells rested. It appeared on other occasions as well - it was the handbell skirt.
Absurdly, I thought that what I needed to be a good ringer was a skirt like that. Or more to the point, once I became a good ringer, I would end up with my own handbell skirt, marked by the accumulation of change after change, rung with absolute consistency.
Well, I don't have a handbell skirt. The consistency is still a bit hit or miss, frankly. But every once in a while, I can conjure up its image, especially when we step up a gear and do something like this:Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Thursday 9 August 2012 in 2h37 (15C)
5120 Spliced Surprise Major (4m)
1440 Lincolnshire; 1280 Cambridge, Yorkshire; 1120 Rutland; 74 c.o.m.; a.t.w.
Composed: John S Warboys
1-2 Tina R Stoecklin
3-4 Julia R Cater
5-6 Jonathan S Frye
7-8 Simon J Gay (C)
Remembering Alison Regan, who would have been pleased.