Funerals are by their very nature usually sad and sombre ceremonies and rightly so on most occasions as the grief and loss are such burdensome and depressing factors. Sometimes though, on rare occasions, it’s more appropriate to focus concentration on the happiness of the memories, the shared love and all the joys that occurred, during the life of the deceased.
So it was at 2pm on Friday 10th March at The Trelawney Chapel of The Penmount Crematorium at Truro as the life and times of Ella Knight were marked at her beautifully fitting funeral service. Ella was a free spirited, wise, involved and opinionated, caring, kind and happy person who loved folk music as much as she loved Cornwall, Nature and Horticulture. Colin Hawke added an especially nice touch to the growing heap of garden flower bouquets by bringing a bunch of Camellias he’d grown from a cutting given to him by Ella many years previously!
As the mourners filed into the Chapel, easily filling it to beyond its original intended capacity, Mike Smith, Barrie Jarvis, Terry Broad and Alan Jewel – all time-served, long standing folk club musicians and members of “The Other Band” – were grouped together in a corner, playing happy ceilidh-type tunes for family and friends and this bright, cheerful music set the tone for the celebration of Ella’s long and varied, definitely eventful and mostly happy life. Ella’s green cardboard coffin, so typical of her commitment and support for needless wastage of natural resources and her natural inclination for recycling, was played in with TVs “The Last Of The Summer Wine” theme. ‘Great choice’, I thought; there was always something of the summer about Ella.
After the opening prayers the Hymn: “All Things Bright & Beautiful” was sung by the congregation, its simple tune and lyric somehow in keeping with Ella’s simple uncomplicated outlook on and approach to life. Then a reading from the Bible before John Langford, aka John The Fish, a long term friend of Ella’s, took to the lectern to give his tribute in which he detailed Ella’s long and interesting life and career. Copies of this tribute can soon be found on a Facebook Page created especially in memory of Ella. Link: Ella Knight – A Memorial. After John there came his wife Carrie also a dear and long term friend of Ella’s who recited two poems: “The Glory Of The Garden.” by Rudyard Kipling and “When I Come To The End Of The Road.” (Anon.) both apt choices in reflecting Ella’s love of and work within horticulture. Richard Trethewey took centre stage next and played a delightful instrumental version of “Wild Mountain Thyme” and he was joined by the whole congregation as he then also sang a few rounds of the well known chorus. One of Ella’s favourite songs and it sounded so appropriate, so sweet and lovely in that setting.
The Reverend Chris Parsons then said some prayers ending with “Our Father Who Art In Heaven” before Alan James of the Morris 1000 Club, that particular car being yet another of Ella’s passions, gave his tribute to Ella detailing her work and involvement with the club. Then Paula Rowe made her tribute as one more long term friend and companion, recalling happy times and anecdotes of events which had us all chuckling and nodding in agreement.
Another hymn was sung by the thronged room before the Commendation and Committal prayers were made. This time: “The Day Thou Gavest Lord Is Ended.” Then “The Other Band” were joined by John The Fish, Richard Trethewey and myself to join in singing: “The Farewell Shanty”. Apparently Mervyn Vincent, who adapted the shanty, used to advise singers to “pick your own key”! Just as well too as I, not having properly sung the song before, and having no recollection of ever hearing Mervyn’s instructions, somehow accidentally sang my short solo; a one line part, in the bass harmony I was adding to the others’ verses and choruses, but, although I got a few odd looks, it didn’t seem to matter too much anyhow. It all just seemed right, somehow in keeping with everything else that afternoon, and I must say it was one of the brightest funerals I’ve ever attended even including some of the more boisterous and wild Irish funeral ceremonies I’ve been at in the distant past. Well done to Carrie & John, and everyone else who worked so hard to make this such a fitting farewell to a much loved lady who will be sadly missed but certainly fondly remembered for a very long time for all her efforts in supporting and nurturing Folk Music in and beyond the South West.
Finally, if there’s anyone wanting free PDF files via email of: (a) The Order of Service, (b) The Tribute Leaflet or (c) The Full-colour Memorial Booklet, just send your email address to Sue Ellery-Hill at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please Note: The tribute leaflet has same literary content as the Memorial Booklet, but only 2 photos). If you want a hard copy of the full-colour jobbie it’ll cost you £3 (including postage, payable via PayPal – using Sue’s email address for PayPal is easiest, failing that, a cheque by post). It’s easiest too, if you opt for the Full Colour Memorial Booklet, to get your own folders – as they’re over £3 each, plus there’s the extra weight and postage and that, says Sue, would be “too much hassle.”
Mic McCreadie. 13.03.2017