Parish of Leatherhead - Celia Middlemas xxxx - 2010


Funeral Service for


XXXX - xx June 2010

Friday 18 June 2010


Order of Service








Revd. Mary Cruddas

I expected to see Celia barely awake, exhausted, and perhaps resigned to her immobility when I visited her at The Royal Surrey Hospital at Guildford some months ago now. She was coping with painful leg ulcers and had been in hospital for some time.

But no! A cheerful smiling face greeted me. We had a wide-ranging conversation for the better part of two hours. It seemed there was little on which Celia did not have an opinion. Most of all she made frequent reference to the blessing that her three girls were to her. She still carried the heartache that came with the death of her son, Peter. I found a kindred spirit in one who loved nature, and who obviously was never happier than when she was involved in caring for living things.

Celia would have approved of the readings chosen for her funeral service. She seemed to me to have a strong sense of the rhythm of life. She introduced her family to the sheer joy of living. The warmth of the kitchen and the cold of the sea. Springtime and harvest. There was a sense too, that journeys were important. That caravan was not just a means of getting from A to B. It was the travelling together that was important. Learning to care for and love each other under cramped conditions. Always a test of character. Is it not under such circumstances that we learn the challenge to love that shows itself in patience and kindness?

Her love of life reflected her love of God. Living life to the full is what eternal life is all about. We are mistaken if we believe eternal life starts at our death. Eternal life is a quality of life experienced in the here and now when we discover the joy of God’s love for us at every turn. It knows God’s presence in parting and pain as well as in feasting and celebration.

Celia had her fair share of parting and pain. She cared for her mother who came to live in the family home after a road accident left her crippled.

She cared for her husband Jim through his struggle with cancer and of course she was always there for Peter throughout his life as they coped together with epilepsy. The home that she built with Bill became a place of healing and wholeness. A place where friends were embraced and neighbours were made welcome. A place where all the changing scenes of life were welcomed and celebrated.

It’s not surprising then, that when she came to face her own death, she wanted to be in that place. She was able to stay at number 10 almost to the end of her life, surrounded by memories of a rich and full life. Not a life marked by ease but one marked with willing service. The words of an old hymn could have been Celia’s prayer

Father hear the prayer we offer
Not for ease our prayer shall be
But for strength that we may ever
Live our lives courageously

Celia was well named, sharing her name with the patron saint of singers. Her joy spilled over into song throughout her life, from her school days in Rushden Church choir, until recently when she would still hum along at the Leith Hill Festival.

The last months have seen Celia’s freedom to move and participate in the community severely curtailed. The health problems that she had fought to overcome eventually got the better of her body. However, her spirit remained indomitable.

As Christians we believe that death does not have the final word. The fellowship that Celia enjoyed on earth, she will experience in greater measure as she joins the great company of saints who surround and pray for us if we could but see them.

A strong, loving, lively character, Celia will be greatly missed by all who knew her but especially by Bridget, Helen and Sarah. Paul's message to the Christians in Phillipi might reflect Celia’s desire for her family.

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing.
What ever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely – dwell on these things.

This is the time to mourn. We need to allow time to grieve in a world marked by busyness and constant change. Tears are part of living.

Bridget, Helen and Sarah will need the support and understanding of each other and their friends if their journey through grief will lead them to times of laughter and dancing again.

We now turn to prayer, Giving thanks for the life and witness of Celia and asking for the peace that passes understanding to keep the hearts and minds of all those who love her, though they see her no more.






The Revd. Mary Cruddas


Thank you... from the Nov 2010 magazine

Sarah Francis, Helen Middlemas and Bridget Leary would like to say a belated thank you so much to everyone for all the kindness you have given us during Mum's varying different illnesses. We were so very, very sad to lose our dear Mum, Celia Middlemas, but hope that she may now rest in peace after such a difficult and long period.

She fought long and hard, never complained, but finally lost her great fight in May. We hope that her faith helped her through the dark times. She is sorely missed and is a tough act to follow. We shall miss her lovely smile and beautiful singing.

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