Every seat was taken, and the back and sides of the church were packed with people standing, for Simon Lipscombe’s funeral at St Lawrence, Ecchinswell on Wednesday afternoon.
The number, and mixture, of people present gave a clue as to Simon’s influence during his short life – Ringers came not only from the Andover District, but all the other Districts in the Guild and well beyond.
But the ringers were far outnumbered by people who had simply loved Simon and wanted to be there to say goodbye. There was a group from the Royal Surrey Hospital where he received treatment, many local friends and family, and countless others.
Simon’s involvement with the church at Ecchinswell began early when he began to help out as an alter boy – a moving tribute was paid to him by the long-standing rector of the church, David Bartholemew, who had clearly pared down fifteen years of fond memories and picked out the best – including Simon’s first experiences of bell ringing – he started learning down the road in Burghclere with David, who soon dropped out becuase “It was too difficult for me, but Simon thrived”.
A moving tribute from Senna, Simon’s husband, followed.
Simon’s friends – John and Claire – spoke next, describing Simon’s ringing life and his audacious plan to raise £35,000 to turn the ring of three bells at Ecchinswell into a ring of 6. Claire, who runs the Trust, is determined to complete the work that Simon began.
Jodie Whatmore did a reading for Simon who she saw as a brother, not just as a friend.
Those of us who have got to know Simon as a ringer first and foremost, may have been surprised to learn that Simon was a keen DJ and not averse to raising roof, clubbing with Jodie, making a noise (well, that fits with ringing!) and even on occasion putting dustbins on top of cars. The vision of Simon, Senna, Claire and all Simon’s DJ equipment and speakers crammed into her car in the early hours after a disco, and driving off to the local McDonalds for a cheeseburger and Banana Milk Shake, was vivid.
Simon is irreplaceable for all of us. His contribution to the lives of his friends was deep and rich, his contribution as both an excellent ringer, and a most encouraging and skilled teacher of ringing, has left his band wondering “Who is going to teach us now?”. The band’s continuing enthusiasm, commitment and passion for bells has already resulted in several people signing up to learn to ring – pending a teacher being found.
Twenty Six years is far too short for a life. Nothing can really make those left behind, come to terms with the cruelty of the cancer which he fought for the last two years of his life. But I am sure everyone at the funeral saw new, and unexpected, facets of Simon and was wholehearted in celebrating the life of this extraordinary young man.
Peals and Quarters rung so far, in memory of Simon, including 4 recorded for the day of the funeral.
A final word from Viv Nobbs
Simon was the Convenor of the Striking Competitions Committee. He was trying to arrange very different and exciting Striking Contest Days so that they would be very inclusive and more appealing and inviting, especially to our younger members.
Despite being in the advanced stage of his terminal illness, he volunteered to serve on the Education Committee. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend meetings and that saddened him very much.
He worked hard for Church Bell Ringing, ringers, Andover District and our Guild as much as he could and for as long as he possibly could with some marvellous results.
A great inspiration to us all.