|Report on Robert's Funeral
by Kirsty Robertson
The funeral took place:
At 2:15 p.m.
On November 28, 2003
At St. John the Baptist Church
In Market Place, Cirencester
|Nothing is forgotten|
|Robert's funeral took place at Cirencester Parish Church, which is one of the largest parish churches in England - indeed, much more like a cathedral.
Two ushers stood at the door to take the names of attendees and to hand out the Order of Service. The first person I saw on entering was Richard Carpenter, who motioned me over to sit with him. As I tool my seat, I noticed Clive Mantle sitting towards the back. The church was nearly full, I would estimate about 200 people.
We were called upon to be upstanding, and slow footsteps marked the carrying in of Robert's coffin, preceded by the verger and supported by four bearers. A simple spray of white carnations and blue irises adorned the top of the casket. It was placed on the bier at the front of the church, between two rows of tall candles, the head towards us.
The bearers retired and the congregation was seated. The first item was the introduction and welcome, where the minister explained that we had come to celebrate the life of Robert Addie, and to commit his body to be cremated. He spoke about the Christian belief in Christ as the Resurrection and the Life. This was followed by the first hymn, "The King of Love my Shepherd Is".
Adrian Jones, who was a friend and fellow actor of Robert's for many years, gave the eulogy. He spoke of Robert's life, his three children, Alexander, Alastair and Kaitlin, and his love of acting. He described Robert as highly creative and humbly chivalric, and related anecdotes from their days of touring theatre together.
His words raised smiles and drew tears as he painted a picture of the man we all had known and loved. After it the soloist stood to sing Ave Maria, her rich voice filling the church and many people were seen to get their handkerchiefs out at this point.
The reading was given by Robert's eldest son, Alex, who is so like Robert at his age, that it takes your breath away. He read the poem by Joyce Grenfall, "If I should go before the rest of you":
If I should go before the rest of you,
break not a flower, nor inscribe a stone,
nor when I'm gone speak in a Sunday voice,
but be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must, parting is hell,
but life goes on, so sing as well.
The lesson was from John, chapter 14, verses 1-6, 27, followed by the Address, given by the Reverend Warwick Heathcote. He spoke about giving thanks for Robert's life and for the friendship and love which had been between him and us.
The third hymn was "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind", and then Alex gave another reading, this time invoking a traditional Gaelic blessing for Robert on his onward journey. The minister then led us in prayers, finishing with The Lord's Prayer, which the congregation spoke together. The final hymn was "Jerusalem", with everyone singing their hearts out, and not a few tears in evidence.
Finally the commendation of Robert into the keeping of the Lord, and the Blessing:
The Peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God
and of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
and the Blessing of God Allmighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
After a few minutes of personal reflection or prayer, the congregation stood, and Robert's casket was carried out, followed by his family. First his mother Marjorie, walking tall and strong despite her many years, helping his frail step-father, then his partner Helen, Alex and his mother.
I joined the rest of the congregation in filing slowly out of the church, while Richard Carpenter took his leave to go and speak to Clive. At the door of the church, Marjorie and Helen were greeting the mourners, and I was honoured, when Robert's mother remembered me.
I was able to express my sadness at Robert's loss and pass his condolences from all his fans worldwide.
After this the family went on the crematorium, while the rest of us retired to Robert's local, The Crown, to raise a few glasses in his memory. A single pint of Kroenenberg remained on the bar undrunk.
Everyone was talking about Robert, stories about him abounded. They all knew him in different way - friend, colleague, drinking partner, ex-girlfriend. For those of you who remembered Lizzie from SA, she was there with two of her children.
Robert has touched the lives of everyone he knew in a big way. The family returned, and I met aunts, cousins, siblings, and was introduced to his son Alex, who had been in America, when Robert has died. He told me that Robert had been able to see his other children last year, which I was very glad to hear.
The family were all very friendly, and delighted to hear how popular Robert was and that he had his own international fanclub. I had printed off the messages of condolences and I passed them along to Helen. She was amazed and touched to receive them and sends her heartfelt thanks. She promised to make copies for Marjorie and Alex, and also to try and get a copy of Adrian's eulogy for us.
Marjorie asked me to send her a full list of Robert's acting credits and a copy of the photograph who Robert liked so much from the Weekend of Sherwood. I have asked Chris Hood (Haire) to send me a new one for her, as my copy is a bit dog-eared.
When it came time to take my leave, Marjorie asked me to keep in touch and not to forget Robert. I assured her that that would never happen.
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