David Banks’ funeral was like an encounter with the man himself – memorable, thought-provoking and entertaining.
About 200 of us filled St. Michael & All Angels church at Ford on Monday, 7th March to say our farewells while we shared reminiscences of one of the co-founders of this website.
The moving eulogy was a double act from Banksy’s children, Tash and Tim, who regaled us with a few memories and anecdotes about their dad.
Their tribute was all the more impressive in its delivery as they had arrived in Ford immediately after the cremation service for Dave.
Tash – aka The Guardianista to regular readers of Dave’s columns – delivered the best line of the tribute. Reminding us her dad had died unexpectedly and peacefully in his sleep at home in Crookham on 22nd February, she said: “My mum Gemma just could not believe what had happened. As she said, my dad never did anything quietly!”
Complications from pneumonia robbed family, friends and acquaintances of Banksy’s genial company, nine days after his 74th birthday.
His old journalism and radio broadcasting buddy Nick Ferrari made the trek up from London to pay his respects. Chris Mullin, the former Labour MP and journalist, had a shorter journey from Callaly, near Alnwick.
Banksy’s regular drinking mates at The Red Lion in Milfield, the inappropriately-named Young Farmers’ Club, were well-represented along with a whole host of admirers in the historic church.
A prominent Young Farmers’ Club member, John Abercrombie, was the funeral director for his dear friend Banksy.
In keeping with the unconventional personality of Dave, the occupants of the pews were entertained by a very impressive rendition of Gilbert & Sullivan from Bernard Trafford, Banksy’s old friend and another co-founder of VoTN.
With his wife Katherine on the piano, Bernard regaled us with “When I was a Lad” from HMS Pinafore, a jolly ditty in which Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty, explains the best way to become “The ruler of the Queen’s Navee”.
The tale of dodgy patronage and incompetence rising to the top in government was viewed by Banksy as a very apposite comment on today’s political scene. He and Bernard had belted it out together as recently as Christmas, we learned.
Bernard invited the congregation to join in the chorus of the G&S favourite but our somewhat tuneless contributions were not helped by the fact that most of us were wearing masks. Dave would have loved the slightly bonkers aspect of this situation.
Banksy’s love of singing was one of the surprising aspects of this extraordinary man examined in the hour-long funeral service. As the lanky lump was eager to tell any new acquaintance, as a schoolboy he had been a stalwart of his local church choir in Warrington (where he led a strike for more money for performing at weddings).
Three favourites from Hymns Ancient & Modern punctuated the service, which was sensitively handled by the Reverend Charlotte Osborn (who did not know Dave) and Deacon Jude Newton (his brother-in-law, who did).
Proceedings were brought to a close by the haunting rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by ukulele-strumming Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, one of the few people whose physique could make Banksy look dainty.
On the Order of Service, Gemma, Tim, Tash and the extended family thanked Banksy’s many friends for “all your cards, prayers and kindnesses big and small”.
Donations are welcome to the Macmillan Centre at Borders General Hospital in Melrose and the medical practice at Coldstream, where Dave was well looked after for so long.
To support this Tash has set up a Crowdfunding appeal in memory of her father, which can be accessed here https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/arthur-david-banks
In a modern development that would have delighted the technology-savvy Arthur David Banks, his funeral service in northern Northumberland was live-streamed online and was watched by family, friends and former work colleagues as far distant as Ghana (where his son Tim has a bar-restaurant, a wife and two of Dave’s three adored grandkids), California and Australia.
It can be viewed here https://vimeo.com/683820447/305e07cf8c
Outside Ford Church, I suggested to his children that even David Banks could not find faulyt with the proceedings. Tash’s eyebrows shot up. “Well, I don’t know about that!” she said with a laugh.
RIP Banksy. You’ll be missed.
PS Google “David Banks obituary” to find many tributes to our friend.