He once took the wicket of the legendary Tom Graveney. He was one of this country's top polo players. He designed one of the first electric taxis. He competed at Cowes for fifty years. He was President of the National Playing Fields Association for over six decades, trebling the size of its green fields. He had an exceptional war record.
Any of these achievements might be enough for one person. But they were all united in HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, whose wonderful Commemoration Service I was honoured to attend, at St Mary’s Church in Ross on 16th April.
The sermon and the singing were exceptional, as always. But it was the eulogy to Prince Philip by Major Patrick Darling DL that most caught the ear. It highlighted the Duke's moral imagination: his belief in nature, and conservation, counterbalanced by a profound conviction that everyone could achieve things of lasting value by their active energy and participation.
This was why engineering was so important to him. Of great engineers he quipped “instead of complaining, they think of ways to make things better.” If I have one regret, it is that we have not had the chance to show the Duke around NMITE, our pioneering New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering. I think he would have loved it.
With HM The Queen, the Duke visited this county regularly. He accompanied HM the Queen on her first visit to Ross-on-Wye on April 24th, 1957, just over 60 years ago.
He was by her side for their visit to Herefordshire for Diamond Day in 2012, where they met representatives of Ross and the other market towns. The Diamond Jubilee will remain the warmest of memories for the people of Herefordshire.
Teenagers and young adults in Ross and across Herefordshire have long had the opportunity to learn new skills through the Duke of Edinburgh’s brilliant Award Scheme. And not just to learn: the Scheme has also given them the means to believe in themselves. Many have found their lives changed for the better.
As the county came together in mourning, residents have been invited to add their messages of condolence to the national record of condolences via The Ross Remembers website. To do this, visit: https://rossremembers.org/doe
The service at St Mary’s could only be attended by a small congregation, but it was also live streamed and recorded. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNYcdnsA_8Q
First published in the Ross Gazette