A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of David Uvedale Corbett
Shobdon 15th October 2010
The ancient Church of St John the Evangelist high on the hillside above Shobdon Place was the focal point for the occasion of a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of our fellow Member and mutual friend David Corbett who died after a short illness at the age of 74 on 6th October.
The mood was sombre as more than 500 mourners gathered at the small church, Chairman Tim Clark leading the Air Squadron contingent supported by Bill Hall, Sir Mark Thomson and Simon Ames from the Committee, Gilbert Greenall from nearby Bromesberrow, Martin Gosling also representing the Flying Farmers, and Johnny Moss. The efficient Airfield Manager at Shobdon had thoughtfully provided minibus transfers to and from the church.
Seating for about 100 in the church was supplemented by a large marquee alongside with a loudspeaker system enabling the whole congregation to be as one. After a welcome by the Reverend Prebendary Stephen Hollinghurst, the service opened with the hymn All things Bright and Beautiful, which celebrates the colour and wonder of the countryside. This was followed with the meaningful Psalm 121 – I will lift up Mine eyes unto the Hills.
All of the thoughtful selection of Readings were delivered by David s children and grandchildren, the first of which, named Grandpa Loved, was written by the grandchildren. Read so carefully and with such sincerity by young Luke Corbett and Phoebe Hudson, here are a couple of the verses :
Grandpa loved building and flying his plane
Grandpa loved to sail his boat
Grandpa loved travelling and taking photographs
Grandpa loved going for long walks
Grandpa was very generous and funny
Grandpa played a big part in the community
Nigel Hudson (grandson) followed with a confident reading of Mary Frye s poem Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep, I am not there, I do not Sleep after which soprano soloist Elizabeth Friday, accompanied by Roger Nichols at the piano, gave an evocative rendering of Poet Laureate John Masefield s Sea Fever poem that was set to music by the English composer John Ireland. This was a most appropriate reflection in the direction of David s life-long enjoyment of sailing and cruising.
Richard Corbett read verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, with measured pace and full of expression To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. Beautiful words, so eloquently enunciated.
A fulsome, worthy Eulogy was given by Michael Ryan, a long-time friend and fellow sailor and airman. Michael ranged delightfully through David s life over the many years that he had known him. With well-crafted words, he described David s generous spirit, always interesting and living life and testing boundaries to the full. He recounted many fascinating tales of David s spirit and enterprise.
Two powerful hymns followed the Eulogy Lord of all Hopefulness, Lord of all Joy and the evocative We plough the Fields and Scatter the good seed on the Land and fitting prayers of dedication for David. After the Blessing by Stephen Hollinghurst, a shimmering sounding of The Last Post was played by Bugle Major Douglas of the Royal Irish to bring the Service to a triumphant close. As we foregathered again outside the church, a small formation of Europa aircraft, led by David s own machine that he himself built at Shobdon, overflew the church in salute. A poignant tribute to a skilled and adventurous aviator.
With great dignity, Penny and her family hosted a Wake at Shobdon Place with warm hospitality amid a myriad of friends and colleagues who had come to share the thanksgiving for David s life. It was a most fitting conclusion to an inherently sad but hugely memorable day.