A True Son of Burradon
It has been extremely difficult to write the following tribute so soon after we lost Harold and to ensure that the
right words and expressions which would be demanded by Harold’s family and friends were included. I feel that
theme of the above passage was appropriate and during his life Harold did have a profound affect on the people he
Harold’s service was held on an intensely bitter cold spring morning and the sky appeared to be as dark as the mood
of the assembled congregation at the Church of the Good Shepherd. The biting northern wind and intermittent
downpours of rain and sleet hastened people to the shelter of the Church.
The mood of deep sorrow seemed to mellow as the people of old Burradon began to reminisce and recall stories of
Harold over the years. It was evident that everyone had a unique tale and at the end of each story there was warm
laughter for a real character. The affection and esteem which people had for Harold was evident and I imagine
would have provided his family with a great deal of comfort at an extremely emotional and distressing time.
Harold was a Burradon lad through and through and was imbued with the values of the old village; forthright in his
opinions, fiercely loyal to family and friends and the enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life. According to his
mother Gladys, he happiest sharing a pint with his friends or standing on the line having “a bit crack” with anyone
Harold was a man of great humour and sensitivity and he cared deeply for his family and friends. He was also
blessed with a sharp intellect which he used with outrageous regularity to embellish and exaggerate the simplest of
stories to the amusement of everyone who gathered at his knee. People forget that storytelling was a great
tradition of the old mining village which Harry was more than willing to continue, mind you, I never knew he had
been in the SAS!
In a world of frenetic change and materialism, Harold’s life is an example to all people that it is possible to
live a happy and contented life without relentlessly pursuing possessions. Harold realised many years ago that
friendship was the most valuable possession in life and judging by the attendance at his service he was a very,
very wealthy man.
Harry recently referred to himself as “a broken thread in the tapestry of life”. He was correct in one sense, he
was a thread, however, he was not broken rather he had inextricably woven himself into the lives and memories of
his family and friends. Without him realising, he had enriched the lives of those around him.
His memory will live on with the people most precious to him and he will continue to raise a laugh when we remember
the happy times spent together in the pursuit of simple pleasures.
At the beginning of the tribute, I listed many of Harold’s attributes and I deliberately omitted his greatest, his
Harold’s courage and his dignity during his illness defined him more than any other quality he possessed and it
became the very essence of the man. Harold had been diagnosed many years and with each disappointing prognosis his
immediate concern was not himself, rather it was the affect it would have on his family and particular his mother.
As a consequence, he concealed the severity of the illness to protect his family which was a selfless and
courageous act and typical of the man. The consultants, doctors and nurses had immense admiration and respect for
Harold and the memory of his stoicism and courage will be enduring.
I hope that time will heal the pain and loss that Harold’s passing has inflicted on his family and friends and
whenever you think of him always remember the good times. I thought it would be appropriate to end with Britain’s
favourite poem and hopefully the words will remind us all that his service was a temporary parting and not a final
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
In hindsight, the final word should be left to one of Harold’s closest friends, Peter Johnson who described the
service and subsequent gathering as “the best worst day of my life”.