A Funeral to Heal

Viv Ellis reflects on the service for Richard Mannington Bowes

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Richard Mannington Bowes - A Man Ealing Should Be Proud Of

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Two people’s deaths perhaps encapsulate the summer’s riots in London. Mark Duggan, the 29 year old father of four who was shot dead by police in Tottenham – sparking the worst civil unrest for decades - and Richard Mannington Bowes, the 68 year old retired accountant killed when he tried to extinguish a fire in Ealing.

Two very different people, very different – though equally tragic - deaths, with very different funerals. In September over a thousand people gathered in the streets of Tottenham to watch Mark Duggan’s horse-drawn cortege.

Richard Mannington Bowes’ funeral held today (September 27, 2011) at St John’s Church, West Ealing was a quieter affair.

Close to 100 people joined Mr Bowes’ sister, Anne Wilderspin and her husband Michael. Of course there were official ones; Julian Bell the council leader, Mayor John Gallagher the Lady Mayoress, the Deputy Mayor, Mohammed Aslam, the police - represented by Chief Suprintendant Andy Rowell.

The others? Some friends and acquaintances. Others just people who wanted to pay their respects and register their shock at what had happened.

Like Frank and June Gerschwiler who lived near Mr Bowes in Haven Green so knew him a little but not much. They had photographed the floral tributes laid at the time to present to his family to take home with them to Derbyshire. And Julia Harding, an Ealing resident who was there “to let people know that there are decent people in Ealing”

Readings were from Mr Bowes’ cousin John Leaning and a friend The Rev’d Jimmie Song. St John’s was picked after Mr Bowes’ sister saw a prayer vigil they organized in Haven Green.

Tottenham and Ealing were different funerals perhaps but both heard from people who are determined to “rebuild” the respective communities.

Mrs Wilderspin said her decision to throw open her brother’s funeral to whoever wanted to come and join the family was because they wanted to “do their bit” to help Ealing mend.

“Often in London – and I lived here for six years – people don’t know their neighbours” she said after the service, “so we hope this will help bring the community back together a little”

Viv Ellis

27th September 2011