Over one hundred and sixty people from the UK and Argentina were able to witness the funeral service of Bishop Pat Harris held at St Philip and St James’ Leckhampton on Friday January 22 at 1.30 as it was broadcast on Facebook live.
The vicar the Rev Nick Davies welcomed people in English and Spanish. The service focused on the resurrection of Jesus and the sure hope of everlasting life in his presence. Mr Davies recalled that Bishop Pat had a ‘good death’ as he “witnessed visions of angels dancing above his hospital bed”. The hymns were “How Great Thou Art”, O Thou who camest from above“ and ”Thine be the Glory, Risen Conquering Son“. These were sung by soloists and hummed by those attending. ”I know that my Redeemer lives” was sung as a solo.
The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, recalled Pat’s smile and twinkle in his eye as she held the collapsible crozier he had given her and noted the inscription it bore: “Take care of my sheep”. “Patrick did just that”, she said.
Jonny Harris paid tribute on behalf of Pat’s family, Valerie and David and Rachel, and four grandchildren. The years Pat spent alongside the Wichi people produced a profound humanity in Pat. He had an easy sense of humour and was quick to tease in a kindly way. He was specially concerned for the widows and single ladies is his mission team. He travelled on horseback, taught the Wichi the guitar and the accordion, and collected birds’ nests and plants from the Chaco. Ten people who had served as lay missionaries in his team are in ordained ministry today. He followed Nottingham Forest and the Pumas; he watched Dad’s Army and Antiques Roadshow; he supported the Nottinghamshire miners, he made marmalade and played Scrabble with his grandchildren.
One of his successors as Bishop of Northern Argentina, Rt Rev Nick Drayson, ‘locked down’ in the UK due to travel restrictions, spoke from Philippians 3 7-17 which was read by Pat and Valerie’s children, Rachel and David. Bishop Drayson noted that “you knew you were valued so you took his advice, however difficult.” He said that the occasion which rejoiced in the victory over death was a “worthy send off to the resurrection life he longed for and preached to so many”. Pat’s heroes had been Allen Gardner and Jim Elliott, who had said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. “Pat now sees face to face the one who called him to that prize”.
Tribute on behalf of Bishop Pat’s family by Jonathan Harris
Normally, when dad called me Jonathan, it was because I had done something wrong. Normally it was Jonny.
When the choir was singing Overshadowing, I thought to myself Dad would be telling mum off because I bet she was singing, and she was.
Dad, daddy, darling, grandpa and bubba – a few of the words we as his family called him. But he was never just ours, he was there for everyone. He and mum were always looking out for someone who was lonely, who needed a friend or someone to talk to. All through Rachel, David and my life there were people for meals and that was something that continued when they moved to Cheltenham – when dad saw a need, he and mum stepped up to help: caring for others like Chinese students to learn English and eat scones on a Sunday, the Angolans, Egyptians, Sam and Victor. At times we all found that hard, sharing him, when we wanted him for ourselves. But that was dad, who with mum, were there for anyone and everyone who needed them.
Dad was a humble person. My son, Charlie said to me when I told him that grandpa had died on Boxing Day, ‘that Grandpa wouldn’t have wanted to upstage Jesus’ and that was right. Dad never boasted about his position as a Bishop, being a member of the House of Lords, being tripped up by Margaret Thatcher after he had given a speech in support of the Nottinghamshire miners, or that he spent the weekend at Sandringham, playing scrabble with the Queen and watching Morecambe and Wise with the Queen Mother, whilst the rest of the royal family watched a horror film.
Dad loved sport – in particular Nottingham Forest, for whom he had a season ticket for many years. He went as much as he could, taking David, chanting and cheering and singing the songs – but not the rude ones, especially the one about Derby! In February David, Charlie, Dad and I went to his last match, visiting his beloved Southwell, looking round the minster, seeing Jennie Mellors, Bishops Manor and the garden. It was a 0-0 draw but what a great memory for us to have. Dad also loved rugby, always watching it on the TV, especially when his beloved Pumas were on TV.
Dad had many interests. He loved reading, listening to music. Mum and he tried to go to the opera shown live at the cinema from the Met, Covent Garden as often as they could. He loved walking where he would count the wild flowers, listen and identify birds from their bird song. Together he and mum would watch TV – particularly Dad’s army – to which he would roar with laughter as Pike was told by Captain Mannering ‘you silly boy’, Yes Prime minister, the Antiques Roadshow, even getting Netflix before me! Just to also share a secret, Dad did have a celebrity tv crush – it was Miss Piggy from the Muppets.
In retirement dad started to cook and he loved it, looking up recipes and finding them in the newspaper: making Sunday lunch for family and friends. He took up making preserves, even making his own labels, although neither Daylesford or Waitrose took on his company; DeliPat, to stock their shelves with marmalade or mango chutney. But we and many others had the pleasure of sampling these great creations.
Family and friends were really important to dad, he was always on the phone or on Facebook, even coming to this earlier than me, to friends, advising, joking, laughing- he did have a great sense of fun, and an irrepressible sense of humour, but also counselling, caring and listening.
He loved his grandchildren Pollyanna, Hannah, Charlie and Ben. He loved spending time with them, talking to them, putting on funny voices, joking about his socks, touching his special golden tooth, his snazzy colourful trousers and cravats, writing silly poems in their birthday cards.
Dad was always someone Rachel, David and I could turn to- he was patient (sometimes, in particular with me something which must have been very hard), kind, slow to anger, always protected us, listened to us, stood up for us, trusted us, forgave us (me in particular), prayed for us, hugged us, had dreams and hopes for us and never ever failed us. He loved us completely and utterly. Our dad was and always will be our hero, we will never forget him and his example of love for others, based on his profound and deep faith. This example is one that we will try to follow and if we can show only some of his compassion and care for others we will have done well. Dad was a wonderful husband too, although he could be stubborn, and not do as he was told, he and mum loved each other completely.
I was sent the tribute that was written when dad retired as Bishop of Southwell and there were many lovely words in the speech, but the part that resonated the most with me were these words written about him- ‘Your personal integrity has been of the highest order. Your teachings and actions have squared with each other’. That is the example that dad leaves all of us with, the challenge that our words match our actions. ‘To walk the talk’.
Jesus was the perfect servant leader and dad wanted to try, although he would sometimes fail, as we all do, to be a Christlike servant leader. But he tried to serve because
Dad was motivated by love to serve others. Dad had nothing to prove – he knew who he was and he would and did get down and serve the poor, homeless, forgotten, rejected and lonely. Dad saw a need and met it. Dad wanted his relationship with God to be complete, nothing would get in the way of his relationship with God
Dad’s example throughout his life taught others, as he lay dying, the nurse told us that the man in the bed next to him when he left hospital was now going to start to read his Bible again. He ministered as Jesus did as he died on the cross
Dad followed and tried to live his life as Jesus taught him in the BIble
We love you dad
As you lay in hospital, you told Rachel you could see the angels and all the colours of the rainbow. You will be welcomed to heaven with open arms because you have tried to live the life Jesus asks us to live, but accepted that we all fail and need Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
Helena, who wrote this and who is also here today, came into my grandparents lives last year. Helena is the only granddaughter of Basil Gough, Grandpa’s Training Vicar and dear friend.
The Son of Encouragement
I knew him only briefly, but felt his heart to be wrought from finest gold and marked with rare sincerity.
His manner kind and gentle, I have no doubt he brought consolation, strength and faith to those he humbly taught.
He’d reached a place of steadfast peace and thus his presence flowed from here to his eternal rest,
in love’s divine abode.