Posted on 11th February 2023

Late last year I conducted a memorial ceremony for Andy in a community centre in Sittingbourne, Kent.  There were so many things to celebrate about Andrew’s life. In the 80’s, when you didn’t just buy a computer and plug it in, but needed someone to set it up for you, Andy travelled around doing this for BT.  He worked at Bletchley Park, for which he had to sign the Official Secrets Act.  He was very proud to have walked in the footsteps of Alan Turing, even though he knew little of the place’s history at the time. He was a great traveller, with his uni friends in his youth all over Europe and later with his wife Margaret and children Robert and Phoenix.  They all loved skiing, roller coasters, beach holidays, board games, escape rooms and more.  In 2019 the four of them had their most amazing holiday ever when they went to South America.  They walked along the equator in Quito, visited the Galapagos Islands, and went to Machu Picchu. He loved Stockport County, the Labour Party, and pub quizzes. In 2021, Andy and Phoenix started volunteering with the Kent Wildlife Rescue Service, scrubbing out cages and aviaries every Sunday, and he sometimes helped to feed baby foxes and squirrels.

So, there I was, fifteen minutes into the ceremony, when a group from the Kent Wildlife Rescue Service arrived, with Peter, the fox.  Peter was never going to be well enough to be released back into the wild, and had become pretty well domesticated.  The picture shows Phoenix holding him after the ceremony.

When we’re training new celebrants, one of the things we assess them on is the ability to deal with unexpected developments.  Well, having a fox at a ceremony was certainly unexpected, and I think I coped with it with my usual calm.  And it was a real privilege to stroke Peter afterwards.

I got some lovely feedback from Margaret after the ceremony: “My husband died recently and unexpectedly. As humanists we wanted a celebrant who shared our values and were lucky to find Felicity Harvest. Felicity was easy to talk to and very helpful about the necessary arrangements. She used her wealth of experience and ideas to make the memorial celebration for my husband very poignant and meaningful. Everyone said what a beautiful tribute it was. It was a lovely mixture of readings, poetry and personal memories to enhance the story of his life.”

She didn’t mention Peter, but I’ll never forget him!

More about the Kent Wildlife Rescue Service here

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