First Chairman of the CLLSA
Howard Pearce 1949 – 2014
I was privileged to be invited to the memorial service of Howard Albert Pearce. As my mother, Chonette Taylor, was unable to attend, I went in her absence. Through her work with the CLLSA my mother was very close to Howard and she was keen to pass on her respects through me.
At first it seemed strange to attend the memorial service of someone I had not met, but the impressions we make impact each other as firmly as the ground we walk on. Entering Romsey Abbey on 17th January I was struck by the magnificence of the space, but then more so by the fact that it was filled so completely. Everyone was quiet but there was a peaceful air. To the tune of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, the family walked in and took their place in the front pews. The service then opened with an introduction, welcome, and some prayers, followed by the hymn “Love divine, all loves excelling”, and a reading from 1 Corinthians verse 13.
Though I had not met him I was getting the impression that Howard had been a great man of ambition, influence, loyalty, and determination. He was clearly a dependable man, and this was something not missed in a touching speech by his son Toby, who no doubt held many of his father’s traits and certainly stood bravely in the face in this terrible loss. But you could feel the emotion creaking at the surface and I take my hat off to him for standing so tall and yet expressing so well his sentiment and that of the family.
Howard’s illness was a long and difficult period for him and his family, but they faced it all bravely and with a smile to the end. Only days before his passing, though he was weak, the family with steadfast determination to enjoy every moment with him, were able to celebrate Christmas together.
Toby and others also spoke about the dedication and commitment that Howard gave towards CLLSA. My mother had described this too, that CLLSA would not have come about without him and I have no doubt that Howard’s charisma and years of professional experience were key in enabling CLLSA to become the successful and established organisation it is today. His passing is a tragedy but he leaves behind a legacy that goes on.
After the service the congregation headed over to the town hall for the reception. I knew no-one there and amongst the large crowd I found myself asking a lady nearby which way we were heading. This lady was Jacqui, a friend of my mother and fellow CLL patient, which seemed to be quite a coincidence as the vast majority of people attending were unconnected to CLLSA except through Howard. So I was lucky to exchange news with Jacqui and to chat with her husband too.
At the reception at the town hall I was able to meet Andrea, Howard’s widowed wife. She was a charming lady and very happy that I came, and I was glad to be able to pass on my mother’s love and respect. There was a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the hall as people chatted and remembered Howard, and when I left, I felt grateful to have been able to come to the service and share this time with these people who had so much to give, and so clearly carried on the spirit which Howard had shared with them during his life.