The service was held in the beautiful St Michael and All Angels Church, just a few hundred yards from Jim and Marion’s home in Copf0rd.
The order of service may be seen by clicking here
The entire service had been planned by Jim, and contained moving and even surprising elements. The moving moments were the personal memories of Gillian his daughter, David Haslam a long time friend who told of the extensive involvement Jim had locally and Christopher Palmer-Tomkinson, the owner of Little Bentley Hall, the garden that Jim took on as he retired from Notcutts. The story of his involvement with the garden is charming and typical. The Palmer-Tomkinsons had started planting up the garden and had put in an avenue of tulip trees. One of these had failed and when Mrs Palmer-Tomkinson went back to Notcutts to tell them about it she was assured by Jim that it would be replaced but not by him. He explained that he was retiring, so someone else would be making the replacement. He was asked if he would take the garden on and for the next 22 years, every Monday morning, he worked at Little Bentley Hall, turning it into “an arboreal and horticultural paradise” in the words of Christopher. Visitors could never believe that it had been created by one man on a Monday. Christopher described how they would walk round the garden together, Christopher at his desk in the city and Jim in the garden, discussing the fine details of what was to be done next. He said that Jim liked things to be done properly, he had an old spade and fork, sharp and clean, secateurs, a knife and twine and a lifetimes experience. Plants and people alike loved him and knew that in him they had someone special who would look after them properly. The affection and respect in Christopher’s words was very moving. Likewise David Haslam, he described how Jim “lived his dream” in Bentley Hall Garden and having found a cottage in Copford “took on” the Copford Garden Society. Once Jim was on board they never lacked speakers because Jim knew everybody. He spoke of his work broadcasting on the local hospital radio, his writing on garden matters for the Essex County Standard for twenty-two years, delivering his copy by hand every Sunday night and the twenty-seven years they had spent restoring a wood together. David recounted how he had once overstepped the mark with Jim in asking to borrow his spade. “A man’s spade is like a toothbrush, you don’t let anyone else use it” was Jim’s reply. When asked what tree he would choose as a memorial Jim’s unhesitating reply – an English oak (to read the full text click here) .
At the end of this Reverend Jo thought the appropriate response would be a good clap, before we all spent some time listening to Jim’s next choice, Ella singing “every time we say goodbye”, wonderful. (To hear click here)
Our final challenge was a hymn chosen by Jim, going back to the 17century, known as “King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers” which, when asked by Reverend Jo only two people knew. It went at quite a lick but we mastered it by the end. I think Jim would have given us about 7 out of 10. To hear how it is sung well click here
After the service the congregation were invited to the Alma, Copford Green where the following photographs were taken.
In the right hand photograph, clockwise Robin Crouchman, Sandra Baxter, Jackie Petherbridge and Michael Baxter.
Other members and friends of the Daffodil Society who were present at the service were Joyce Bradbury, Gill Marshall, John Pearson and his daughter Sheelagh Rowan, and Wendy and James Akers.
It was a great pleasure to celebrate Jim’s life along with Marion, Gillian and Allan and Paul his grandson, plus his many friends made throughout his long life.