Saturday, 11 June 2011

A Service in Memory of Andrew Reeves

It's been an emotional rollercoaster couple of days.

When Jon Aylwin notified me on Tuesday that Andrew Reeves' funeral was to be on Friday, something in me said that I should go. As I stated in my blog after his shock, sudden death, it wasn't that I knew him that well but that I knew him well enough and respected him to feel it only right to make the journey to Edinburgh to show my support to the community of friends and family who have been left utterly devastated at his untimely early passing.

So within the space of 48 hours, Jon Aylwin and I planned our road trip north and accommodation in an Edinburgh halls of residence for the Thursday night. I made my way from Cardigan to Shrewsbury via Aberystwyth on Thursday morning where I met up with Jon who drove up from Cardiff.

Travelling north, it was already a mixture of emotions that I felt as I made my way towards a city that I love but that I hadn't visited for some 7 years. I've always been a big fan of Edinburgh having visited there several times but not since 2004 and I had mixed feelings on making the return under such sad circumstances.

Added to the poignancy of the trip north was the fact that Thursday, June 9th, was the 8th anniversary of my father's death in 2003.

Old Friends and New
We arrived in good time at 6.30pm to check into our rooms overlooking Arthurs Seat before making our way to the city centre to meet up with old friends and new at 7.30pm. We toasted Andrew's memory and shared stories of a life which had touched us all. It was particularly nice to meet up with old Aberystwyth University friend Heather Stitt who now lives in Leith who I hadn't seen in 6 years. We really can't leave it so long before we meet again. It was also nice to meet up with Scottish Lib Dems who I knew but who I had never met in person such as Caron Lindsay. In all, it was nice to be able to prepare ourselves for the day ahead with an evening amongst Lib Dem friends in the capital.

A Service in Memory
Yesterday morning saw an increased gathering as the majority of those attending Andrew's service were travelling up on the day.

It was great to meet up with old friends from the campaigns department who had like us, travelled the length and breadth of Britain to pay our respects to Andrew and we all made our way to the crematorium for the 2pm service.

Jokes were shared and there moments of laughter but then, suddenly, Andrew's hearse pulled up in front of the building and it suddenly hit me. Adorned with his adopted namesake's country's flag of St Andrew, seeing the coffin was heartbreaking.

But whilst there were tears of sorrow, there were tears of laughter to as the service remembered so well a life that was fully lived and a man who was well loved. It was a very apt service for Andrew in a packed room of some 150 friends and family. We entered with the Pet Shop Boys' Always on My Mind and we had music from Take That (The Flood) and Lady Gaga (The Edge of Glory and Born This Way). The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, gave a pitch perfect tribute which made us laugh and made us fondly recall all that Andrew had achieved both for himself and for others.

After the service, after some confusion about the venue for the wake, a good gang of us congregated at the All Bar One bar on George St where we had also met the previous evening. It was an opportunity to raise a final toast to a man who will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

After saying our goodbyes at 4pm, Jon and I set off on the long road-trip back south and I bought a copy of the Herald which had a lovely obituary to Andrew, written by Graeme Littlejohn. After 7 hours, Jon and I were back in Cardiff at 11.30pm last night having travelled a combined total of over 1,000 miles by car and train to be where we both knew we needed to be on Friday.

It was a desperately sad occasion but one which was made easier by the wonderful support that Andrew and in his absence his partner Roger, received from their extended Liberal Democrat family from across the country.

No doubt if Andrew was looking down at us all, he'd have Tweeted, 'what's all the fuss about'?

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