The Funeral of Mrs Joyce Chant
2 weeks ago I had the enormous honour of being asked to photograph the funeral of a lovely 87 year old lady, Mrs Joyce Chant. Her daughter Ali rang and asked me if I would be willing to photograph the whole funeral which was to take place at the beautiful church of St john the Evangelist in Staplegrove Parish, Taunton. She had only days before left her family in Australia and felt that it was really important to be able to share the funeral with them and keep the photos as memories of a sad but wonderful day. For her, it meant that although her family was so far away, they would still feel like they had been there. It was important for the (grown-up) grandchildren to be able to say goodbye too.
I, of course, was delighted to be able to say yes and those of you who read my previous blog on funeral photography will know why. I have for a while felt that it is an important service to offer and one that completes the circle of life in reality as well as photography. We often take photos of newborns, christenings, weddings and all the other ‘time of life’ celebrations, so why don’t we do it as much with funerals? A life is to be celebrated and when it is celebrated like this with tea, cake and strawberries and cream, it is a truly wonderful thing to be able to capture.
Ali has very kindly agreed to let me show some of the images from the day – which I am very grateful for. I am very proud of them and I am sure Joyce would have loved her send-off! There were so many special things that went on that day; Ali had designed small bags with an image of Joyce on the front as a young girl – they contained holly sprigs from her very beautiful holly tree in the garden – I have never seen such a beautiful and well cared for tree. There was one for each of the guests to plant in their own gardens. There was a huge board, full of wonderful photos that Joyce had collected and a book for everyone to sign. We also organised for Steve King Photography to come and video the event and in the afternoon after the burial we went around and asked people to say a little something for the family back in Australia. Last but definitely not least, Joyce’s car – which she only learnt to drive at the age of 65 – was parked in the church grounds, and later on it was full of people and the little ones also got to have a go driving it – though it was well and truly lacking in the battery department – which was really just as well!
I wasn’t sure what the best way would be to show the images, so I have chosen some that I really like and that I hope give a complete overview of the day. Joyce had been attending the church since she was born (87 years ago) and had been a member of the choir for 70 years. Many of the original members of the choir were there, including one gentleman that she had been at primary school with. There was so much love and warmth from all the people there and it was such an enormous pleasure to be able to photograph that. I hope I did her justice and only wish that I had been able to know her when she was still alive.
I must also say a huge heartfelt thank you to Stephen Kivett, the Vicar of St John’s, who ordinarily would not have allowed video and photography to take place, but because it was Joyce, he made a special allowance. Many, many thanks! I also want to mention Nigel Ford Funeral Director, who really was very kind and accommodating as regards the photography too – I have not had a great deal to do with Funeral Directors, but I suspect he is one of the good ones!
What an honour and a pleasure to be able to be involved in this special day.