People in sombre attire opened their front gates around the corner from where Sue and Christopher lived and made their way to the red brick All Saints Church at the heart of East Sheen as we walked the same way having lunched in The Pig ‘n’ Whistle. The church filled up quickly, one measure of Christopher’s popularity and a chap behind us who used to work with Christopher commented “Haven’t seen the church this full for a long time.”
It was called a Service of Thanksgiving and Celebration, the thanks were due to Christopher who filled his life with the intelligent care of others. His labels include adventurer, aviator, inventor, business man and sailor but perhaps most importantly a loving husband, father, grandfather, friend and philanthropist.
Rob said quietly “If only we’d known him sooner.” We met Sue and Christopher in north west Spain as we set off on our trip in 2015 and spent a few happy times getting to know them and their lovely 1907 built Larry who is now on the hard in Falmouth. Then we kept in touch by email and met up with them, you may remember, in Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island.
Just before we returned home an email arrived entitled ‘Sad News’, Christopher has died while snorkelling during his Tongan holiday. It was their son Humphrey who flew out to help Sue with the arrangements to take his father home and who stood up at the front of the church and gave us a fascinating account of his father including the fact that this was the last item on his father’s current bucket list; to swim with humpback whales.
Humphrey’s daughters Matilda and Bella told us with confidence and affection just what fun it was to grow up with Christopher as their grandfather. Then a message was read out from the Agoro community of Uganda where Christopher and his UK colleagues were the founding fathers of the Agoro International Vocational Foundation. To date the foundation has trained more than 9,000 young Ugandans in skills to last them a lifetime, an opportunity they did not previously have after two decades of war in their country. The message described his ‘selfless style and attention to detail.’ An Everyman we were privileged to have known, albeit briefly.