Steve’s parents, both alive and well but shattered at his passing, wanted a quiet, private family funeral. As Godfather to all of Steve’s children it was my mission to ensure that the battalion was represented on the day, so it was agreed that, along with both of his sons, Jamie and David, we would provide the pall bearers. Colonel Chris Keeble and our former RSM, Mal Simpson both requested to be on the team and I was not going to be just watching ! I only needed one more man. My wish was for Steven Tuffen who had been shot through the head at Goose Green and had amazingly survived because of Dr. Steve Hughes wise intervention. I also requested permission that a reserve man be allowed to attend and as Glyn Grace had volunteered we had our team.
It had been wished to bury Steve in Aldershot, alongside those fallen warriors who we had not reached in time to save back in ’82, so that surviving battalion members could visit him in years to come, but this was not allowed ! So we had to find another cemetery. Delay after delay and by the time we elected to have Steve buried near by the family in Birmingham, Both Mal and Glyn were overseas and unable to attend on the day. At very short notice two other stalwarts of the battalion and devoted friends of Steve Hughes, Wang and Johnno stepped up to the line, as so often before when duty called.
Perhaps the icing on the cake was that our wartime padre, David Cooper was there to take the service. David, with his usual humour gave us two tips: don’t drop the coffin and don’t fall in after it ! Easier said than done I can tell you. Young David Hughes, at just 17 carrying his father’s coffin was paired up against a 76 year old Cris Keeble. Wang and Johnno, both large old men, were in the middle, where the coffin is widest, and the isle in the church was very narrow. Jamie and I appropriately took Steve’s feet and led the team. As I had anticipated Steve Tuffen, with his considerable disabilities, was, of course, unable to carry the coffin but provided a very fitting Guard of Honour. It would be unfair not to mention one other former soldier, a dear friend of Steve’s, who was in attendance in spit of his own ill health and, in his day, was ‚No Mean Soldier‘, Peter McAleese.
It rained heavily until mid day, then the sun came out for a couple of hours allowing us to remain dry for the whole service, thereafter it poured down for three days, thank you God ! After the service we all retired to Steve’s old watering hole and mixed with the family, singing the praises of our now parted friend, as if that were necessary, Steve was loved by all and shall be missed but NOT FORGOTTEN !
RiP Doc !!!