I was in South Wales yesterday for the funeral of Graham Harrison at Emmanuel Church, Newport. I stayed at my sister's in Cwmbran the night before and she accompanied me to the funeral. She was a member of the congregation there for six months many years ago. I was surprised that Emmanuel was big enough to accommodate everyone but there is extra room available and so the 200-250 filled the place but not to overflowing. I was not able to stay for refreshments but it was good to be at the service in the church sat next to Mark Thomas and at the committal at St Woolo's cemetery. Bernard Lewis, the present minister, led the service. It was good to see him and his wife Linda and Ken Brownell and John Palmer present. We were all exact contemporaries at LTS. Robert Strivens read, Wyn Hughes prayed, Trevor McMillen, an elder, gave thanks and Stephen Clark preached. It was all very helpful. Geoff and Iola, my in-laws, gave us a lift to the grave, where, in the sunshine, Neville Rees read, Hywel Jones prayed and Bernard did the committal to the grave where Mr Harrison's father had been buried in 1989. There is something solemn and reassuring about a Christian burial.
There must have been around fifty ministers present all told. It was not possible to speak to everyone I would like to have. It was good to be reminded of Mr Harrison's faithfulness (he was referred to as Mr Harrison throughout). We were reminded of his lack of small talk, his preaching, his sense of humour, his pastoral abilities, his very practical bent and his solidity in a crisis. Digby Williams and John Edmonds, both ministers, grew up at different times in the church. John recalled the day when the old Alma Street was being knocked down and they were meeting in the YMCA. Great days they sounded.
I always find a trip to Newport strange. I was born there but I do not know my way around well. I noticed my Auntie Mavis's grave among the hundreds there in that cemetery. I don't know where the graves of other family members are found.