City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Michael Mavor’s Memorial Service at St Giles’ Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 17 April 2010

Show Details
Memorial Service for Michael Mavor CVO, Headmaster of Gordonstoun, Rugby and Loretto
Liebste Jesu Wir Sind Hier, J S Bach; Love One Another, Wesley; Gabriel’s Oboe; Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 659 BWV 6612, J S Bach.
The Rt Revd Brian Smith, Bishop of Edinburgh; Ed Coleman (organist); Richard Dunster-Sigtermans (choir master).
Running time: 

The Arnold Singers from Rugby School were in the choir stalls under the direction of Rugby’s Director of Music, Richard Dunster-Sigtermans, and waiting behind them were four bagpipe players from Loretto. The Bishop of Edinburgh took his place. The pipers moved forward and played Roever and Korb’s Highland Cathedral, written in 1982 and accompanied by the organ.

The Bishop opened the service with prayer and Michael’s daughter, Veronica Morant, welcomed us from the lectern. We all rose to sing a hearty Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the King of creation, a hymn based on Psalms 103 and 150.

Michael Mavor was 31 when he became head of Gordonstoun and his first Guardian, Trevor Jones, read from Ecclesiasticus. Ian Mavor, his elder brother, from the pulpit described the trials of his teenage years living with a clever and determined younger brother. He gave familiar insights and anecdotes and some not so familiar but equally interesting, as did Michael’s son, Alexander, who followed his uncle up to the pulpit after the anthem and second reading.

Due credit was given to Michael’s parents. I well remember their kindness to me on arrival at Loretto. Only a lot later did I discover our mothers were in regular correspondence; for a while they had been at school together in Peterhead. Sheena Mavor lovingly wished Michael was not always top of every class, captain of every team and never in trouble.

The Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Clare Russell, represented Michael’s love of outdoor sport for she had welcomed him with his fishing tackle to Ballindalloch when, as a young headmaster, he had needed space for himself. From the lectern she read a passage from Michael’s book The Wizard of Gordonstoun about Robert Gordon, the laird’s son, and his nighttime escapade into the stillness of nature and of the loch nearby. Needless to say, Michael will have tied his own flies; he and I spent many an art class being taught the tradition.

The Arnold Singers from Rugby School sang clearly and beautifully Elizabeth Poston’s lovely carol Jesus Christ the Apple Tree and later, equally appropriately, Ed Coleman’s Pie Jesu.

With the Bishop’s prayers and blessing and Timothy Dudley-Smith’s hymn based on the Magnificat, Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! all that remained was for the pipers to complete the service with The Rose of Kelvingrove.

Putting together a memorial service that has something for everybody who attends and yet  has weighed up what was important for the person being remembered is never easy. The staff of Westminster Abbey were so helpful to me when I had the task three years ago. Michael Mavor’s service had to balance Gordonstoun, Rugby and Loretto and did so magnificently. A great deal of careful thought and preparation produced a fitting tribute to a dear friend to so very many people.

Event: Friday 16 April 2010, 12 noon