25/01/2011. Tuesday was one of those non days, I went to work felt utterly tired out left at 4 came home and made preparations for the next day. Not the stuff for an opening line to a novel then. I ironed a shirt and nipped out with Peanut to do some shopping in the Co-op ( that’s right we are the people in the new Co-op advert) and we came home with a fish supper – God do I like decadence.
26/01/2011. No work today. Today was the day to celebrate the life of a brave young man, Andrew Venn who passed away recently after along battle with leukaemia. His funeral was in Maidstone and the MINI community was there alongside all his family and other friends to pay their respect and remember the Andy that we all loved and admired. It is hard to write publicly about this and I hope that my words are sensitive and kind and explain how it was while remaining respectful.
All in all it was about a 3 hour drive each way, with a stop at Chievely services on the way down to meet up with MinisooperCooper and a few other MINI travellers. It also gave me a chance to remind myself of how outrageuos I find Costalot are for their turgid coffee!
Andrew’s funeral was at Maidstone Crematorium and he had been escorted there by his family, friends and a convoy of over 30 respectful MINIs and all who know Andrew would deem that the best Guard of Honour he could wish for. The ceremony was punctuated by fond words from family, friends and his partner Elliot, who spoke so eloquently and kept his composure so well at such a difficult time. Random memories struck me from inside the crematorium. An old lady with silver hair and a royal blue coat sung her heart out to “All Things Bright and Beautiful”; it has been so long since I have repeated the words to The Lord’s Prayer; being up in the galleriy looking down and seeing the bravery and courage in every pew below me; never for a moment thinking that I would cry but shedding tears when the Vicar read out the poem ” Mother and Child.”
It was an incredibly moving ceremony.
As much as we were there to mourn Andrew’s passing we were all there to celebrate his life and we did this and for me it came about in a number of ways. Old faces not seen for a long time popped up and old friendships strengthened and Andrew would have loved to see this as the MINI community united in love for him. Some of the words from the ceremony captured the essence of Andrew and what he has come to mean to so many of us.
“SMILE, Open your eyes, LOVE and go on
You can shed tears that Andrew is gone
Or, you can smile because he has lived.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you do what he would want:
SMILE, open your eyes, LOVE and go on.”
I am 50 and I am proud to have learned a fresh philosophy from such a grown up young man and for me I sum it up as “there is only time for smiles.” Thank you Andrew for sharing your philosophy.
On such a day as this there were a many old friends there that helped make it so much better. I have an old MINI Mate Puzzle, we have both been in and around MINIs for yonks and in this time she has met and married a smashing bloke Chris ( Loui) and now they are 3 and a half weeks form having a baby girl whose name shall be a secret to us all for now. Can’t say why exactly ( perhaps there need not be a reason) but I found this ever so exciting for them both and I wish them every joy and happiness. Another Pal of old, Becky is a dear dear friend to Elliot, Andrew’s partner and he is Godfather to her daughter Tate. Becky did a slideshow of photographs of Andrew throughout his life and it was so touching to watch and clearly a labour of love that she did so brilliantly.
Finally it was time for us to leave for our 3 hour drive home. We left tired but glad hearted that we were there to celbrate the life of a singularly inspirational young man.
God Bless you Andrew!