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Mourners at tragic Paul Vigay's funeral to plant acorns in his memory

By Jim Nagel. Published: 22nd Mar 2009, 22:40:59 | Permalink | Printable

At the funeral of RISC OS and civil liberties activist Paul Vigay, who died last month, acorns were passed around to mourners to plant across the country in his memory. Journalist Jim Nagel describes the touching service after attending the funeral, held in Petersfield, Hants.


Paul's funeral procession - click for larger


Around 200 people gathered in honour of Paul Vigay on Monday, March 16 and followed his horse-drawn coffin through a Hampshire wood to the burial site. In a simple ceremony, a lone jazz saxophone played Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a tribute from his sister was read out, the coffin was lowered, and everyone sprinkled a handful of petals into the grave.

People came from at least three worlds, for Paul was well known not just as a RISC OS advocate, software author and ISP owner. He was also prominent as an investigator of crop circles and other mysterious phenomena. And of course the mourners included his extended family and his daughter, Emma, 20, who was present with her mother and grandparents.

All three strands mingled after the burial at a memorial gathering at the Sustainability Centre, next to the South Downs Natural Burial Site, near Petersfield in Hampshire. The hall was too small, and the overflow crowd in an adjoining room watched on video.

The programme included spoken tributes from several RISC OS friends. RISCOS Ltd managing director Paul Middleton said only three events had ever come to him as such a shock: NASA's Challenger disaster, the attacks on the Twin Towers and, while setting up on the morning of the South West Show, the news of Paul’s death.

Tony Stutters lived nearby and for 20 years dropped in on Paul almost daily for tea and banter – he had a special signal on the doorbell. Tony said: “Paul was profligate with himself: he never stopped working. Now he’s left us here – bewildered – and missing him.”

Frances Vigay, Paul’s sister, spoke last. She said: “Each of us is a sacred mystery. Paul loved mysteries. There is never only one story, and some we never will know.”

She provided 200 acorns in biodegradable pots for people to take away and grow in their part of the country as a memorial to Paul. A map of the oaks’ eventual locations will be included alongside Paul's online book of condolence.

• Paul's mother Mavis, father John and sister Frances said they drew comfort from the heartfelt messages posted on the online book of condolence. They, and Paul's girlfriend Louie Smith, are said to be coming to terms with their loss but are grateful for the kind words of support they have received from hundreds around the globe.

Rob Kendrick, who set up the online book and attended the funeral, added: "It was a glorious day, and the surroundings in which he was buried were truly idyllic. The ceremony was as moving as it was beautiful, and all the people who spoke spoke well. I was expecting there to be three cliques; RISC OS, crop circle, and family, but everybody mingled and chatted and told stories of Paul.

"All in all, a delightful, stirring, and superb celebration of Paul's life."

Links


Book of condolence
Tributes paid to tragic Paul Jim Nagel is editor of Archive magazine. Photo from the funeral service used by Drobe.co.uk with consent of Paul's family.

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Paul Vigay

Just some fragments from the day of his funeral as they came to mind.

Paul's coffin surprised me - somehow I expected it to made of cardboard or wicker in keeping with the sustainability theme - but a true Acorn fan even beyond death, Paul was buried in a stout oak box.

I followed the coffin into the woods, talking to the solicitor who is getting to grips with Paul's privately managed Internet affairs. He pointed out the woodland floor covered in Dog's Mercury, a rare plant he said, which I subsequently failed to find in in Roger Darlington's beautiful wild flower site [link]

The CIA security sign on the wall of the Rising Sun at Cranfield where we had lunch with fellow MUG members; reading the hardcopy condolences book produced by Rob Kendrick; then getting lost on the short journey to the Sustainabilty Centre and driving too fast around single track roads trying not to be late.

Keith Dunlop and Louie sitting cross-legged on a wooden shelf throughout the length of the celebration service tributes. I am surprised they could stand up still had the use of their legs afterwoods.

The "croppies", certainly no odder in their own way than we niche OS supporters, looked and sounded surprisingly normal; and their voices, to a Pompey born and bred exile listening to the Southern "R"s and "ows" all around was like coming home. Then there was learning how to pronounce Paul's second name - not V-ee-gay, but V-igh-gay.

The little child with blonde hair who persuaded three MUGs to come and admire a ring of stones and pile of twigs laid for a fire close to the edge of the wood.

Hugging Paul's sister and collecting two potted acorns. Curiously, hearing Fran speak took away some of the feeling of loss. It was as if he had not altogether gone.

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse, Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown, the dream is gone.

Paul wanted to play the guitar solo from "Comfortably Numb" but he was more of a keyboard player than a guitarist.

Shine on you crazy diamond - but I really, really wish you were still here.

JR

 is a RISC OS UserJohnR on 23/3/09 7:10PM
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