Saturday, 9 June 2012
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
An old Dalesman has died this week after a two or three year battle with cancer. A battle borne with courage, strength and good humour by all accounts at his funeral today.
Funerals here in the Dales, are great occasions. This was as great as they come because he was such a well known dealer in hay, straw, cattle and sheep. He knew every farmer within a wide radius and they knew and loved him.
The farmer, of course, went - along with our neighbour. They travelled the seven or so miles to the church together, thinking that parking might be a problem. But a local farmer had opened up a field. And, by golly, it was needed. The church - semi-redundant now - is still opened up for weddings and funerals. It is a lovely church and very large. By the time they got there there was not even standing room in the church and by the time the service began there were as many outside the door as there were inside - so maybe five or six hundred people there. They certainly gave him a good send-off.
There were refreshments afterwards in the Village Hall and then a final toast to "Aud Les" in the local pub. What a splendid occasion and what a wonderful tribute to the man who, in spite of his illness, planned his own funeral - the hymns, the prayers, everything - in advance.
It may seem rather old-fashioned to some "townies" that Dales funerals still take place like this - but I say - long may they continue in this vein. I hope the present generation take note and vow to continue the tradition whether they are religious or not.