took place at 1pm on the 22nd January 2013 at St Thomas’s Church Mellor. It was a cold day with the ground covered with snow but brightened by sunshine. As expected, there was an exceptional attendance with various estimates of around 500 people who had come to pay their respects. The church itself was completely full, yet more braved the cold outside in the churchyard and perhaps another 150 to 200 crowded into the parish centre to hear the service relayed through speakers with a slideshow backdrop of photos of Phil, his family and friends. The regard with which he was held in the community was illustrated by the turnout from Mellor and beyond.
The sheer number of people brought to mind the following poem :
by Raymond Carver
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
The service was very touching with a eulogy from a friend, Paddy Whitham and emotional tributes from Phil’s son, Dan and sister-in-law, Donna Heselton. There were two simple hymns : Jerusalem and Amazing Grace followed by some very thoughtful and appropriate words from St Thomas’s new vicar, Alex Sanders.
The service ended with some music from Bruce Hornsby:
The show goes on, and the sad-eyed sisters go walking on
Everyone watching all along
The show goes on, as the autumn’s coming
And the summer’s all gone
Still without you, the show goes on
The congregation was then invited to return to The Royal Oak to continue to celebrate Phil’s life. Visitors to the pub over the next two weeks are encouraged to share any memories of Phil in writing and add to a box on the bar. These will be brought together in a book about him.