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Beth Farrington pays tribute to Arthur Harris and Jim Cranton

It is both a privilege and a daunting prospect to pay tribute to Arthur. In years alone his was a full life of 91 years. As I came to prepare this tribute I searched for a word that might describe the man he was.....there could be so many but I have chosen faithful for it seems to me that faithfulness was the theme melody of his life.
He was a faithful family man; and there were many happy memories from the family to support this.

Arthur was faithful in service to the community in which he lived. From organising events to raise money for village men serving in the war while he himself was in the Home Guard to being a school governor, one of the feoffees, visiting the elderly in Burrels, being on the millennium committee....the list could go on. In recognition of his community service Arthur was awarded the MBE and the royal Maundy purse. But the greater reward was surely the respect and love he received from those who valued his service.....his love to his neighbour whether offered as Postman Pat or Father Christmas at the playgroup or auctioning harvest vegetables for a good cause or giving shelter in the church to wayfarers perhaps on their way to Pilsden as I remember on one occasion and not just shelter but going down at night to take the visitor supper and see that he was comfortable.....it was all part of his life.

Faithful too in the church as organist, beginning as a young teenager who, from then on, was always there.  But there was so much  more...... church warden.....Arthur and Muriel cleaning the church and the brasses... One person I spoke to about Arthur told me that as a sidesman it didn't seem to matter how early you got to church Arthur was before you on a Sunday morning and whether it was winding the clock or running up the flag or preparing candles for communion Arthur was onto the job.No wonder one of his grandchildren said that Grandad was always rushing
Arthur's life was a life lived to the full...faithful in his love for his family, faithful to the church he served, faithful to the community in which he lived, faithful above all to his Lord and Saviour.
Asked by his brother Cliff if he had made any New Year resolutions one year Arthur replied....same as every year To love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength and my neighbour as myself. This was such a telling response from the man whose life we are remembering today.

In the tribute I gave at Arthur's thanksgiving service I quoted from Jim Cranton who amongst other words of tribute said of Arthur that he was a man of commitment, dependability and cheerfulness. Little did it cross my mind on that day that 2 weeks later at the same time I would be listening to David Bakewell paying a tribute to Jim himself in a service that like Arthur's was so appropriate to the man and about whom similar words might have been used.  Jim himself was dependable, loyal, with a gentle humour and a lightness of touch, who was steadfast in service to his community through the scouts a movement he had been part of for many years, through his involvement in the life of the village and especially in the church where he served as a licensed Lay Reader for many years and supported and encouraged the clergy who served there. Speaking personally I know how much his caring, encouraging support meant to my husband. And as David said in his tribute Jim had a way of discerning the gifts of others and helping to develop them.

Jim had about him a graciousness of  spirit which was a special gift of God to the church and people of East Chinnock. Were I to be choosing a word for Jim I think it would be that he was steadfast.... in his love for his family, in his service to his community and in his commitment to the Lord whose grace shone in his life. Of many memories that I treasure of Jim I choose the memory of carol singing around the village. Jim led us with a lantern and we sang the old carols. It was a very cold night but there was true warmth  in the hearts of the singers and the message was of Good Tidings - and it was great fun!  As Reader, Jim led worship and preached and with Daphne together they cared for the people of the parish in quiet and varied ways.

Arthur and Jim, Jim and Arthur....how often their names came together in the years we were part of  the benefice of which East Chinnock was one of the group. It seems fitting in some way that as they had served and worshipped together for so long that they should be remembered in the church they loved among the people they loved within such a short time of one another.

Our thoughts must be with those they have left behind and our thanks for their lives among us will be our memorial to them.   At Arthur's service I mentioned the point in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress where  one of his characters steps into the river that represents death and Bunyan says “All the trumpets sounded for him on the other side” I reckon there's been a double fanfare for our friends .

 Thank you, Arthur and thank you, Jim. You will be greatly missed. I close with words used in one of Jesus' parables that could have been said of both these men...”Well done, good and faithful servants. Enter into the joy of your Lord”

Arthur calls it a day… after seventy three years!’

Over eighty souls attended the 9.30am Holy Communion service at St Mary’s East Chinnock on Sunday 3rd April to honour Arthur Harris who retired as Organist after seventy three years.

Rev David Wilson paid tribute to Arthur’s long service and his role in providing music and hymns to nurture our hearts and minds in a wholly positive way. Also, he read out a greeting from the Bishop which praised Arthur’s achievement as,‘wonderful and quite extraordinary’ and thanked him ‘for serving God and the Church of England so faithfully’.

On behalf of the congregation John White, a churchwarden with Arthur many years ago, praised Arthur’s energy and enthusiasm for his various roles within the church and the wider parish for which he had received the MBE and Maundy Money from the Queen.  Sue Adcock, churchwarden, the presented Arthur with an engraved silver salver, a framed photograph of Arthur at the organ and a DVD of the service for the dedication of the Church windows made and installed by Gunther Anton.

In his response, Arthur said that the secret of keeping going for so long was to ‘enjoy what you do!’ He remembered his dear wife Muriel and his family, many of whom were present at his last service, with love and affection. Arthur hoped the musical tradition at St Mary’s would continue and we shall make every effort to ensure that it does, not least in honour of Arthur’s legacy.

After the speeches the congregation tucked into the refreshments – a retirement cake and a glass of wine, and exchanged remembrances of a truly remarkable man.

Ian Stephen