St. James’ Church, Swansea, was packed with mourners on Wednesday 12th July 2017 for Dr. Bob’s funeral. All who attended brought their many stories concerning his life. We all felt the obvious sadness of his sudden loss, but I also think many of us were surprised to hear, during the funeral service, of his huge range of interests and accomplishments.
During the service there were seven Tributes offered by his children, friends and colleagues, including Old Dy’vorians, Phil Cross and Dr. Bob Griffiths, and these “painted a picture” of Bob’s life.
This was followed by something I’d never seen before in a funeral service, six items positioned on a table alongside the coffin, where each item represented an aspect of life. These were, in turn, brought from the table and placed on Bob’s coffin, with a word of explanation about each item.
There was a model yacht because of his love of sailing and where Bob felt at peace. We heard many yachting stories.
There was a stethoscope representing his love for his work as a doctor. He was highly respected, regarded and trusted by his patients and he had been my doctor for many years.
There was his OBE which was presented to him for his medical work with prisoners in HMP Swansea – an honour of which he was rightly very proud.
There was a model motor-bike and car because of his interest in gadgets and all things technical. His knowledge, we were told, was quite extensive.
Finally, there was an iPod which, it was said, summed up his brighter side of life.
Throughout the service we heard of his love for his family.
Bob’s work in prison wasn’t really covered but, there again, few people present would have seen his contribution there. However, that was where I, as Prison Chaplain, worked alongside him for many years. I was so impressed with the way he dealt with people. He was fair, thorough and, above all, he listened to the prisoners. For many this “being listened to” was unusual. They were the ones who, because of their situation, were at the edge of society, often despised and ignored. Bob gave them time and respect and many responded to this. He wasn’t naive or a push-over, but was honest and forthright.
During the service, Bob’s Great-Niece, Cliodhna Regan, sang 3 pieces. She has a beautiful voice and helped to create a tremendous atmosphere, which meant we could reflect peacefully on Bob’s life and celebrate the special stories we had heard.
We left the Church comforted by the stories of Bob’s contribution to so many people’s lives. He certainly made a difference. He was an Old Dy’vorian we can be proud to have known. May he rest in Peace!
Finally, Bob’s wife, Columba, and his children, Ben, Emma and Beth, have asked for people’s stories concerning Bob to be sent to them so that they can create a commemorative journal. We can email them at Betty_jayne@hotmail.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org
The article above was written by: Lionel Hopkins MBE, Dynevor 1959-1967