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Image by Howard Bouchevereau

Funeral Tributes

We are very happy to reproduce tributes if family members would appreciate this.

- Tom Wild (below)

Funeral of Tom Wild – Withyham on 23rd January 2024

EULOGY given by Kevin Wild – available from the family.

ADDRESS given by James Campbell

From time-to-time some parish churches are fortunate to encounter someone who makes a really whole-hearted commitment and significant contribution to the life of that church: Withyham has been fortunate that Tom Wild has been one of those people for the past half century.  The family moved to this Church in roughly 1970, encouraged by their dear friends and neighbours Ted and Joy Lock.


As Kevin said, Tom’s commitment and skills were recognised by his appointment as a Churchwarden here during 1980s, working particularly with Gordon Reid. That period included involvement with the future of the Gerini paintings when they left his building, were restored by the Courtauld Institute and then loaned to Leeds Castle.  He joined the Choir, initially carrying the Cross although apparently at first saying that he couldn’t sing.  He later organised the annual visit to Chichester Cathedral to sing Evensong when the Cathedral Choir were away.

You’ve heard how Tom was very active in every aspect of the annual Fete: putting up the signs – that role that the next generation has inherited! – helping erect gazebos and bunting and for many years running the bottle stall.  With John Collins and Alan Muckleston, he was one of the ‘Thursday Men’ clearing up the Churchyard and keeping the graves looking tidy.  He acted as the Electoral Roll Officer – our membership list – even when latterly, with failing sight, that meant using a magnifying glass to read the names on his computer screen.

Tom did many other little odd jobs.  For the annual Nativity Service in Church, he made the props including the camels.  He would have enjoyed the fact that last month they were very adventurous, travelling to London and featuring in the Westminster Cathedral Choir School’s Nativity Service. They caused some amusement whilst being walked up Victoria Street by three small boys; and then two of the three travelled home again by train, each with their own seats – though they didn’t have to pay. 


Kevin mentioned what a master Tom was at Quizzes.  At one in aid of Sussex Historic Churches organised by Lady De La Warr, Tom was primed and emerged as the winner – and by a significant margin.  Tom also enjoyed repairing books – including the large print 19th Century Prayer Book that I use on Sundays.

Having spent his formative years in Norwich, Tom liked the fact that I was ordained in Norwich Cathedral and was a curate in Norfolk.  Just the other day, I was writing on one of the post cards of this Church that are for sale at the back – the one of the interior. I suddenly noticed– for the very first time – on the back ‘Photograph by Tom Wild’.


There really seems to be no end to the things that Tom did.  As Kevin said, Tom was always busy, doing something, never sitting still for long.


The fact that Tom died at home, his dearest wish, was much to do with Sylvia’s dedication and considerable fortitude, wonderfully supported by the family.  To die at home, peacefully in one’s sleep, well into one’s tenth decade, must be the aspiration of all of us; for the last day of your life to be Christmas Day, spent with his family, is such a fitting finale.  


As that great passage in the OT Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a time of everything, including a time to die.  Tom’s time had come; he was ready for the next stage of the great adventure.


To many, Christianity seems either very confusing or just rather archaic and of little or no relevance to contemporary life.  However, the essence is actually quite simple.  In answer to a question posed at the beginning of his ministry, ‘How do I get to heaven?’, Jesus replied in Mark 1:15, “Repent and believe.”  In other words, we need to say sorry, admit our own shortcomings and failure, our sin – and believe in God, trust in God in the person of Jesus.  Near the end of his ministry, Jesus’ great friend Lazarus had died. Approaching the tomb, Jesus said to the on-lookers, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” – and Lazarus was miraculously brought back to life.   


Belief isn’t just an agreement to a set of abstract ideas, which can then be put to one side.  Rather, it is also actually living them out: belief and action running together, word and deed in harmony.


It is worth saying this on a day when we celebrate the life of a dear man who gave so much to this place.  The Bible is very clear that we do not, we cannot, win our salvation by our own deeds, however good or many they may be.  Our salvation has already won for us by Jesus, in his death on the Cross and his resurrection.  He has done it once for all – our part is to respond in believing and trusting, and then living it out.


Our thoughts today are with Sylvia, with Kevin, Sally and Louise, with Tom’s seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren – all of whom gave him so much joy and who meant so much to him.


We thank God for Tom Wild, a good and faithful servant.  

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