Service for Jim Pearce – 11 February 2013

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.

It was Jim’s wish that the service was to be a happy one and Reverend Jo Dudley, a friend of Jim for many years who conducted the service began by asking everyone to smile.

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 left hand photograph, clockwise around the table from left. Malcolm Bradury, Paul Kington, Beverley Nicholl, Tony Petherbridge, Reg Nicholl and Sally Kington.

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.


10 thoughts on “Service for Jim Pearce – 11 February 2013”

  1. James
    Your coverage of the service at Jim’s funeral was excellent and encapsulates the event superbly.
    Many thanks

  2. James

    So sorry we could not be there, we had a great deal of respect for Jim. your coverage
    is excellent, we felt as if we were there. Thank you.

    Anne and Richard

  3. James,
    Very nicely done and glad to see so many of the Daffodil people were there. in my very early days in daffodils Jim, as Sec. of the Daffodil Soc. was a patient correspondent as I peppered him with questions – he was then at The college of Ascension in Birmongham if I remember correctly. He was always helpful and did much to promote interest in daffodils.
    Alas, yet another old daffodil associate has passed on – I am glad to have had the privilege of knowing him.

  4. Hello James and Wendy,

    Just to endorse the thanks of other people – a wonderful, professional coverage of the farewell to one of the greats of the daffodil world. We visited Jim’s patch twice and were surprised that such good foliage and blooms came from what appeared to be poor soil. He gave us a lot of helpful advice that day on feeding daffodils.

    We also judged with Jim on a couple of occasions. He was very definite in his opinions of the quality of the blooms and quick to spot shortcomings as well as strengths. In a couple of instances we spotted some slight damage ( Lesley can see a nick from 100 yards away). Jim replied by saying “I”m meant to wear specs but they make me feel old!” Such was Jim’s sense of humour. He will be missed by us when we visit the UK shows later this year.

    Thanks also, James, for posting the photos of the daffodil gentry. We recognised most of the faces. We are looking forward to seeing you all in April.

    Peter and Lesley Ramsay from NZ,

  5. Dear James and Wendy,

    Thank you so much for letting me see your piece about Jim’s funeral service. I sincerely wish that I could have been there. I think the service did him proud, as he justly deserved.

    I must have known him for well over 30 years, and had enormous respect for him. He was a huge help to me all the time I was chairman of the N&T Committee, and he relieved me by taking charge of the trials for which I really did not then have time. We had a long and happy association together at Harrogate, which was where I got to know Marion.

    He had a vast knowledge of daffodils, as garden plants and as show flowers. Although I had long experience of judging before I knew him, he taught me a lot. His insistence that coronas should be circular was inspirational as was his belief that in judging plants for the AGM one must look at the whole plant and not just the flowers. He was never afraid to express his opinions and although he respected the opinions of others he was not easily shaken.

    He was a true plantsman with very wide knowledge of plants, and it was a real education to hear him advising customers when helping on Notcutt’s stand at Chelsea. Until latterly he was giving talks over a wide area on an amazing range of subjects, equally at home with flowers, fruit and vegetables. He must have inspired many to become better gardeners. It was sad that he never received recognition from the RHS, but his legacy lives on.


  6. On behalf of Marion, Gillian and the rest of the family, may I thank James for a splendid report on the service. In addition, Marion wishes to express her thanks to everyone who attended the service, or has sent a card or letter of condolence. All the kind thoughts are very much appreciated at this time.

  7. I was greatly saddened to hear that Jim had passed away.
    I worked with him for some time at the Ardleigh Notcutts where we shared many
    a chuckle.
    He didn’t readily suffer fools, and we did encounter a few !
    A person with large reserves of energy, and an extensive knowledge of plants and
    gardening matters.
    He was a true contributor.
    David Morris

  8. So sorry to read the sad news of the passing of Jim. He was a gentleman who was always willing to help anyone in which ever way he could. He will be remembered for his huge committment to the Daffodil Society and the many shows that he was involved with. His presence and contribution to Harrogate show will remain with us for many years to come. To be in his company at Harrogate show was a privilege never to be forgotten.
    Rae Beckwith Northern Group Chairman.

  9. My first job when I left School 50 years ago was garden boy working for Jim at the College of the Assension.I learnt so much from him and it was a very happy time of life for me.I am sad to hear of his passing it was a privilege to work for him.

  10. Thank you very much for your kind comments about Jim Pearce. I will pass them on to his wife Marion and family. He had a long and happy life and often talked about how much he enjoyed his early life, which you were part of.

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