THE village of Symondsbury was packed for the funeral of Sir John Colfox.
The small church of St John the Baptist was full of friends and family – with seats specifically reserved for villagers – as Sir John would have wanted.
There were screens outside the church and in the tithe barn relaying a montage of pictures of Sir John and his family and the service attended by around 500 people.
Family members carried the wicker coffin to the church where the service was taken by The Rev Jan Delaney, with the address being given by The Rev Joseph Ayok Loewenberg and the eulogy by sons Philip and Eddie.
Among others there were representatives from Sir John Colfox School, Bridport Town Council, the Lord Lieutenant’s office and the legion of friends Sir John made in all his many manifestations.
Nephew Victor Crutchley said: “It is comforting and nice to see so many here.”
And godson William Bourne said: “No funeral is happy but this is a celebration of a life well lived.”
His two sons, Eddie and Philip paid to their beloved father in their eulogy.
Eddie said: “To me, as a child dad was simply dad.
“It was as I grew older that I realised that he was more than simply that. He was also a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, an admired and loved employer, an able committee man, a risk taker, a man of authority, yet a rebellious and a stoical man who endured some physical and emotional hardships, while remaining a humorous and humble man who did much to try to improve the community in which he lived – and loved.
“Dad was a man of energy. He was farmer, a school governor, a rural district councillor, a justice of the peace, a deputy lieutenant, a sailor, a naval officer, a rower, a local thespian, a cricketer, a horseman, a land agent, a tapestrier, a sports car and TV magnate, a ship owner, a pony carter to the end, a man who had a huge capacity to listen regardless who to.”
Sir John never expected, or wanted to, inherit the estate – he had an older brother Andrew who died aged 14.
He wanted to be a merchant marine and spent three years as a Royal Naval volunteer reserve officer – and was seasick on the Arctic Convoy.
As a farmer he took his role of land stewardship seriously, they said.
Philip said: “As his secretary on the War Agricultural Executive Committee said: ‘His heart was in the soil.”
He believed the land needed to be loved and he took his responsibilities – both for the land and his tenants – seriously.
Eddie said: “Sir John’s involvement with Colfox School had been for life. After over 40 years as a governor he was particularly proud to have the school renamed after him.”
Philip said: “The changes that he has seen during his long lifetime are considerable but essentially the things he held to be important have remained – the love of people for one another and the beauty and importance of nature and the countryside.”
Eddie added: “In mum’s words: ‘We are not so sad he has died. We are so happy he was alive and that we knew him.’”