Special report: David Kelly
Kelly funeral brings calm in the storm
Thursday August 7, 2003
His death has caused a political storm but yesterday mourners gathered at a small church in Oxfordshire to pay tribute not to a public figure but to a gentle family man.
Relatives and friends of the weapons inspector David Kelly were reminded not of his professional life, which has caused so much controversy, but of his happy private life.
Music and readings at "Dai" Kelly's funeral drew on his Welsh roots, his love of rugby, his love of the countryside and his hopes for world peace.
Mourners began arriving at St Mary's church, Longworth - within sight of Harrowdown Hill, where Dr Kelly's body was found last month - just after noon.
Among the first was Tom Mangold, a former Panorama reporter and close friend of Dr Kelly, who is to make a film of the events surrounding the scientist's death and has been critical of the government and the BBC.
Lord Hutton, who is heading an inquiry into the tragedy, was driven up to the 13th century church 45 minutes before the service was due to start. He was followed by the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, who was representing the government and who apologised this week to Dr Kelly's widow, Janice, after it emerged that a No 10 spokesman had described her late husband as a "Walter Mitty" figure.
Police threw a cordon around Longworth and Southmoor, the Kellys' home village. Mounted police patrolled near the church. The family had asked that only one agency reporter, one photographer and one film crew - Sky rather than the BBC - record the events. They hoped the service would provide a brief respite from the political furore.
At 1.55pm the church bells began to toll as a hearse bearing Dr Kelly's coffin stopped at the gates, which were guarded by six police officers.
Mrs Kelly, 58, was helped from a car by her daughters, Sian, 32, and twins Ellen and Rachel, 30. They watched as six pallbearers, all family members, carried the coffin, decked with a white roses and lilies, into the church.
The vicar of St Mary's, the Rev Roy Woodhams told the mourners: "We are here because of the tragedy that has taken place. We are not here for the media or to make a political statement or to apportion blame."
The opening hymn, Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah, reflected Dr Kelly's pride in his place of birth, the Rhondda Valley. A poem by Wilfred Hawe-Nurse, who used to live in the Kellys' house in Southmoor recalled Dr Kelly's love of hiking in Oxfordshire.
There was a reading from Matthew Chapter 5, which included the line: "How blessed are the peacemakers, God shall call them his sons" and a prayer from the Baha'i faith, to which Dr Kelly converted four years ago while working in the US. The faith believes "the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens".
Following the hour-long service, Dr Kelly's body was buried in the shadow of the north side of the church.
Mr Mangold said Dr Kelly's family remained "pale and stoic" throughout. "It was a very dignified service. It was quiet, it was gentle and in every way reflected the man."
· Based on a pooled report from the Press Association
©Copyright 2003, Guardian (UK)
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