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In Full . . .

VILLAGE COMES TO A STANDSTILL FOR PETE RIPPINGTON’S FUNERAL

Posted on March 03 2012 at 9:09:15

Hundreds of people lined the aisles of St Laurence Church for the funeral of Pete Rippington.

They filled The Ark adjoining the church, watching on a big screen, and they stood in silence in the churchyard, listening to the service relayed through loudspeakers.

At Alvechurch Middle School, where ‘Mr Rip’ taught for more than 30 years and became the soul of school life, pupils watched the service via a satellite link.

He had touched the lives of so many and they all came to say goodbye after his death, aged 59, in a coach crash in France almost a fortnight earlier on the way back from the school skiing trip to Italy.

The Rector, David Martin, led the service and moving tributes were paid by Pete’s 24-year-old daughter, Amy, and son Max, aged 21.

Amy, who was involved in the crash read a poem she had written while sitting at the French hospital bedside of her mother, Sharon, who had been badly injured.

She told of her father the “hero” who would never settle until he was sure all those around him were happy. Max remembered the time Pete made tea and coffee for some workmen and inadvertently reached for the Bisto. One found himself sipping milky, sugary gravy.

Pete’s brother, Paul, who has lived in America for the past 25 years, brought back memories of their childhood, teens and twenties together, growing up in Alvechurch.

More recently, they had taken long walks together around the area, with Pete telling two-hour stories, whether his brother had heard them before or not.

There were also moving tributes from Karen Jordan, Pete’s head at the middle school, but also his colleague and friend there for 30 years.

She said they used to play golf together sometimes and, like many others who had walked the fairways of Kings Norton Golf Club with Pete, wondered how he got away with his attire and unorthodox etiquette.

Three other friends, Stuart Baxter, John Hague and Chris Stock, took to the podium to recall their times with Pete and to pay tribute to him.

This was not a sombre occasion and as they told their stories of a man whose life was devoted to others - but most of all to the children he taught - smiles spread across the faces of the mourners.

As his coffin was carried from the church to Redditch Crematorium, the gathered community knew they had lost a remarkable character, but were grateful that his life had been spent with them.

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