With our parish priest from New Milton away on holiday in his homeland (Poland) I've been among those assisting at Our Lady of Lourdes. Today was very special. The funeral Mass and burial of Ray Clamp was entrusted to me. Now Ray was a one-off. An accomplished musician all his life, he had been drummer with the New Forest Plonkers for several years since retiring to the South Coast.
Above is how Ray appeared on his Funeral Service booklet: but many will remember this below as the company in which he was usually seen.
He was greatly loved. There were family and friends from far and wide - all parts of England and Ireland, and I made sure that Fr Howard Levett (formerly of St Alban's Holborn - now Anglican Chaplain in Venice) was aware of Ray's passing, for whenever he visits us in Lymington we try to take him to the New Forest show, where he is a devotee of the Plonkers.
The singing was particularly good and heartfelt today, and at the end of Mass and again at the graveside Gordon and Janet of the Plonkers played and sang for us. I found it very moving - Jesus the 'glutton and winebibber' by repute, the 'friend of publicans and sinners' would have loved it, too. A holy and a happy send-off for a lovely man.
After that, a dash home to catch up with a former student now an Anglican Vicar in Winchester. He is a friend of the owner of a newly opened delicatessen and cafe, "Ciao Belli" in Gosport Street, Lymington - and conveniently near the Catholic Church. Very good it is too - so Jane and I were treated to a lovely authentically Italian light lunch and a chance to catch up on news of this part of the Anglican Communion.