Mourners at tragic Paul Vigay's funeral to plant acorns in his memoryBy 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."
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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