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Eulogy for Liz Clay nee Hurrell

She was cremated in Cambridge at 12:00 on Friday 30th August, and there was a Thanksgiving Service in the Church at Longstowe at 12:00 on 6th September 2013, at which the Revd. Nigel H.A. Pearson gave this address (slightly pruned):-


Liz Clay was born in what was known as The Cottage, after the family had been evacuated from the Manor at Newton, Cambridgeshire, which had been requisitioned.  She was educated (or, she would probably say), half-educated at Runton Hil {West Runton, Norfolk, now a residential Activity Centre] and life wasn’t easy when at home looking after her mother who had MS.

On 24th September 1966 [the thirtieth anniversary of the wedding of Gervas & Betty Clay, see p. 84] Liz married Tone in the Church at Newton, and after living at Kingston, where two children were born, they moved into and were the first”private” occupants of the Rectory, after the Church Commissioners sold the house in ???? – and quite a project it turned out to be.

Liz was huge fun – incredibly kind – a good friend – inherently self-effacing – a great do-er behind the scenes – a wonderful sparring partner to and for Tone.  She had a clear sense of right and wrong; she was frequently scooping people up , and often providing hospitality in the Old Rectory or the School House as a means to that end.

Liz was always careful with such resource as they had – which incidentally means that Tone can now have clean bathwater for the first time in 45 years.

Liz wasn't exactly black and white in her thinking, but she was certainly one to speak her mind, and had some fairly clear cut-and-dried views, so when her son Charlie came back from Cambridge having been set up by un-named friends (who are here today) with a piercing (as they say) in his ear, she made sure it was covered with plaster before going to lunch with their Uncle Colonel Hurrell [lord lieutenant of Cambridgeshire 1965–75] the next day. Practical in all things, and in a crisis, she would drop all she was doing and come and help: when Judy (my wife's) mother died in a car accident when our children were in prams, Liz was one of the first on the scene.

Liz was a Great practical supporter of Tones multitudinous projects, despite the huge efforts involved on her part,    and in spite of memorable suggestions put to her such as – at an event at the Old School, might she like to take out her kitchen table, to make space for four more chairs, to raise another potential £150.

Liz had great insight and was pithy -  perhaps distinctly Hurrell attributes - and had a great sense of humour, and in spite of a perhaps incomplete education at Runton Hill, had a natural skill in the use of alliterations (ie repetition of the first letter of a word), so although unmentionable in these hallowed portals, few of us will forget the alliteration she used for Tone's Famous Ferrago                Or when it came to helping Tup Lawson with the string of beacons across the country for the (I think) Countryside Alliance, and the adjectives she gave to the bonfires….

But being near to her as she passed on from this world, I couldn't help thinking what a wrench in relationships takes place at such a sudden sadness as this.

In the end all is relationships, and it is up to us to make sure they are good ones, of which Liz had so many.

And I would very strongly affirm that relationships are not just electronic activities of the brain, but that they will continue to be part of each one of us when we each pass on from this world. We don't know quite how that will work, but that is the promise, and without such a future, the extraordinary beauty and creativeness of this lovely world we live in would be meaningless - which I don't believe to be the case. And against the background of the enormous sadness we have all known during the past two weeks, the symbol of the Christian church is a good one. Christ is with us in both the joys of life but also throughout the sadnesses; so as symbolised by the cross, he suffers with us.  And he came to guide us and tell us that there was hope. So when we leave this world we also will meet those of our friends and family who have gone before us, and we will meet the God who made us, as Liz will now have met the God who made her, made her the person she was in this world and made her the person she is, but whom we no longer see.

And so to finish:- for those who have difficulty believing in the existence of the next world, take heart – I have to say I personally think we will all be surprised, and find those to whom we are close will be waiting for us.

And so we pray:-

Lord, be with us on our journey through our remaining days on this earth, and help us to prepare ourselves for the time we will see you in all your glory. And as we say goodbye to Liz, we thank God for her life, for her love of her family  - and so much more - and we know that she is in the protection of the one that made her.

Thank you, God,  for her life, and protect her for all eternity.    


 Her son Charlie Clay followed with his own tribute to his mother.




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