I live a stone’s throw from Brighton’s oldest church, St Nicholas’s. So I felt an urge to attend the funeral of Henry Allingham, one of the last veterans of World War 1. Many hundreds of people were there too. It was a moving occasion, even outside the church. Sombre certainly and all the time you heard people saying quietly that it was so important to remember that great generation who went through so much.
Brighton trendies, veterans, pensioners, young and old, mums with kids explaining why it was important to be here, all came to say farewell to a very ordinary man who had lived a most extraordinary life.
There was a real sense of thanks and genuine fondness for Allingham himself: he is very much Brighton’s hero. Hundreds of people were gathered on the streets and around the screen in the churchyard. And so many different uniforms and medals. The services were represented by everyone from the top brass right down to local cadets. It was wonderful to see. Some of the old ladies wiped tears from their eyes, perhaps remembering a brother, husband, father or boyfriend they had lost. The ancient planes in the fly by wobbled past, so low, surprisingly low to whoops and cheers. What a magnificent send off.
And as I was walking back past the church home, after most people had left, I noticed in the graveyard across the road from St Nicholas’s, a patch of poppies. We will remember them.
(I’ve added a few more pics on Flickr.)