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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Farewell to Arthur - a stalwart supporter

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Arthur Harvey, November 6, 1925–July 25, 2020.

Arthur after a service with Debbie Thrower, in 2017

The Anna Chaplaincy network is mourning one of its staunchest supporters. Arthur Harvey died recently at the age of 94 and his funeral was held this week at Basingstoke Crematorium.

Arthur was an engineer, lay preacher, published hymn-writer, an accomplished organist and a composer of many prayers. He had supported all the successive Anna Chaplains in the town of Alton, where this form of ministry among older people began, since 2010. He also supported the cause financially both at a local and national level.

Arthur and Doris Harvey at one of Alton's annual services celebrating Anna Chaplaincy and the gifts of older age

Many's the time I would receive an encouraging email from Arthur after he had read a BRF newsletter or one of my blog posts. Indeed, the word 'encouragement' was often repeated during Monday's service.

He and his late wife Doris, to whom he was devoted, undoubtedly had the gift of encouragement. Arthur expressed it in writing and in person. As they grew older each focused on what they could do, saying it was far better than 'thinking about what we can't do'. Together they would design a card for someone special, with a memorable Bible verse penned on it, and Doris would delicately decorate and colour in around Arthur's calligraphy.

Arthur always published his hymns anonymously, wanting God to gain the glory, but you can be sure that many of the more modern hymns we often sing originated in Arthur's imagination.

A dream

I remember being summoned to see Arthur because he had had a dream and wanted to tell me about it. When I visited, he insisted that God had said to him, 'Debbie must go to Newcastle.' Arthur knew that I was starting to establish links with people in Newcastle Diocese keen to establish Anna Chaplaincy in the north-east. Arthur then donated a significant sum of money for me to be able to pay a visit and stay locally seeing yet more contacts. Those links did, indeed, pay dividends and, as I've said elsewhere before, there are now more Anna Chaplains in Newcastle, and across Northumberland and County Durham as a whole, than in any other part of Britain.

Bless, encourage and pray

I was honoured to lead the prayers at his funeral. Arthur believed in the power of prayer and in the importance of listening to God's word and responding. If that meant a call on his bank balance, so be it. Arthur was a generous giver. As he grew older he concentrated on listening, above all, to God and to his fellow men and women. This was his often-mentioned acronym for living a meaningful life in older age – BEP: Bless, Encourage and Pray.

The vicar of the Parish of the Resurrection, Alton, the Revd Andrew Micklefield, who conducted Monday's service, paid tribute to Arthur's ministry, referring to custom-made greetings cards he had sent him over the years displayed in his study and quoting prayers Arthur had written.

Andrew recalled how Arthur, who spent the last few months of his life in Marlfield nursing home, Alton, had envisaged his own funeral and even composed a few lines to be read out on that day:

You say that Arthur's died, but that's not really true.

He's only found another home, a 'place prepared' – brand new!

And why are we so sure of this? So certain? So assured?

Because, when he was here with us, he always claimed – JESUS IS LORD!

Before you smile but turn away, let Arthur intervene:

'Just take your Bible off the shelf and read John 3:16:

For God so loved the world He gave his only Son, so that

Everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

This is God's Holy Word you know; and all God's Word is true

Everyone who believes: (hear Arthur shout)

Includes both me and YOU!"

Written by Arthur 15 January 2017 for use at his funeral.

Arthur and volunteer Anna Friend Becky Shaylor - the image chosen for Anna Chaplaincy's latest publicity leaflet

Custard creams

Numbers of family and friends were limited at the service due to Covid-19, but tributes were paid and the retiring music was a jazz version of 'O when the Saints go marching in'. A packet of custard cream biscuits had been laid on his coffin – comforting sustenance for his final journey home.

Arthur is survived by his son and daughter. His granddaughter Miriam recalled many happy family memories, including some of her grandfather's advice on public speaking, especially those addressing congregations in church, advice which he'd had printed in a pamphlet.

Arthur was a friend and counsellor to many. As Miriam said, he not only talked about God, he tried to live the gospel day by day. This was another prayer of Arthur's quoted:

Morning Prayer

When I wake up every morning then I start an unknown day,

But I trust my heavenly Father and He surely knows the way.

Through the sunshine and the shadows He will gently hold my hand.

Please, Lord, give me the grace to follow every step that you have planned.

June 27, 2017

Arthur and Doris are both much missed at the town's many clubs where older people gather, notably the All Saints Hard of Hearing Club, organised by Anna Friend, Kate Dando.

Retired Anna Chaplain the Revd Helen Jesty and Arthur

Mourners were asked to donate to Anna Chaplaincy in the town, c/o Alton Methodist Church, his daughter Beryl and husband Ian ensuring all his final wishes were fulfilled to the letter.

Neighbour, Denise Ford, summed up his qualities in a poem printed in the Order of Service:


How do I write about this special man I grew to love?

We spoke about so many things, but mostly God above.

He had so many gifts; Art, Music but a few.

We talked about all kinds of things and so our friendship grew,

And now his soul has left this world there seems no more to do

Except rejoice... he's reached his goal.

His work on earth is through.

Dear Arthur, I will miss you.

Rest in peace.

Arthur at All Saints Hard of Hearing Club, Alton



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