Champagne, strawberries and a last goodbye
A pretty church in the tiny village of Granborough on a warm and sunny afternoon was where we said goodbye to Mike Stockman. The memorial service was packed with his family, friends and working colleagues who enjoyed a celebration of his life from those who knew him best.
The small delegation from the Keeshond Club were to learn a lot more about Mike which started with an address from Chrissie Nichols from the BVA who warmly applauded his huge contribution to the BVA and its workings. Here, we learned just how much Mike contributed to the shape of the organisation as we know it today and how his immense talents went far beyond his basic veterinary training. Keith Young, from the Birmingham City Canine Association was next to thank Mike for his work with the association and for the special friendship that they enjoyed together; despite their differing football interests (Mike was Arsenal and Keith, Birmingham). Perhaps the most moving tribute however was from a local man who befriended Mike shortly after he and Val moved to Woolscott. Sometimes amusing; sometimes thoughtful, he was able to fill in the last few years of Mike’s local life with a succession of stories that had their centre around the local pub. It was indeed in this friend’s garden where Mike died on 27th August while gently sipping champagne and munching strawberries.
There was a favourite poem from daughter Caroline, a bible passage from son Duncan and a personal tribute from the parish priest, the Rev Barbara Clutton, who described herself as an ordained farmer with many good reasons to thank Mike for his advice and fellowship. The order of service was decorated with a rather fetching photo of Mike in his tropical Army uniform (looking resplendent in his shorts) and in a touching tribute to Val, a full-length photograph of her in her bridal gown. Following the service we gathered in the nearby village hall for, appropriately enough, champagne, strawberries and a delicious buffet.
As expected, people from the veterinary world were present as well as the Kennel Club, BUBA, Pedigree, the dog press and many more whose faces I recognised but could not place. The whole occasion was a warm celebration of a man that we, in the Keeshond world knew as ours. Having been there it was clear that we were not the only ones to feel like that. To quote Keith Young, he will leave a huge void.