A Tribute to James McGhee
Entry – Flower of Scotland
Rainbows would never be rainbows
If sunshine had never met rain
No one would ever need comfort
If there was no sadness and pain
But life holds both sunshine and showers
The days are not all bright and fair
So look through the showers for the rainbows
You will always find hope shining there
We come together today, this wonderful gathering of family and friends to pay tribute and celebrate the life of a much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend, James McGhee.
I know James’s death has come as a shock to many of you all and our thoughts go out to everyone who has been hurt by this sad loss – in particular his parents Jane and Tom and his brother Alex.
It is important for us to acknowledge that something very fundamental has changed with James’s passing – you will not be the same people you were and life will not be the same again for any of you – and life should not be the same – because James’s presence in this world mattered and you are the people you are because of him.
I know at this moment in time it is very difficult to try and understand something that is totally beyond our powers of natural understanding. The question on all of our lips is “why” and yet that question remains unanswered.
We understand that things sometimes go wrong.
We understand......but we still hurt.
We know everyone did everything they could.
We know that everyone has been wonderful
Nobody is to blame – but still we hurt, but to hurt we must love and James was so very loved.
James Andrew McGhee was born on November 6th 1993, the firstborn son of Tom and Jane. From the moment he was born it was clear that James wasn’t going to be average, as when he was placed in Jane’s arms he immediately stretched out to reveal just how long a baby he was – practically a third of Jane’s height – the toes had to be cut out of his Babygro’s just to accommodate his long legs!! All of his milestones occurred at an early age, he walked and talked earlier than other children his age and by the time he was four years old he was able to read his own birthday cards – even cards written in spidery, joined up writing! Having started school, Jane was startled to be asked to stay behind on his first day by the teacher. Fearing James was in trouble, she was relieved and somewhat bemused when the teacher – who was clearly flabbergasted – asked if Jane knew he could read. Jane said of course she did and that he read Roald Dahl books at home, with Charlie and the chocolate factory being his favourite!!! James hadn’t even turned five at this point! By the end of year one at school, James was able to complete spellings designed for those in year five and at times was frustrated with the others in his class because they weren’t as advanced as he was and he couldn’t understand why!!! In restaurants he would proof read the menu’s, getting quite cross if apostrophes weren’t in the right place or dessert had been spelt desert! Tom and Jane have recently found out that James saw figures and musical notes in the form of colours which explains how he could solve mathematical problems in minutes and only had to listen to a piece of music once before being able to play it. With his inquisitive mind James loved to receive gifts just so he could take them apart to see how they worked. For his 21st birthday last year he was thrilled to receive a Dyson remote controlled fan which has luckily remained intact as Alex is going to keep it to use in the summer.
When he was around 16 months James became a big brother to Alex. He was so excited and used to peep over the side of Alex’s cot and say “baby” – he was so in awe of him and became very protective. As brothers they were like chalk and cheese but were incredibly close to one another with James keeping a photo of Alex with him at all times. In recent years, despite not liking any form of sport whatsoever, James would join Alex in the lounge for the start of match of the day. There then followed a bit of mad dancing to the theme tune before heading back upstairs to his room - a simple gesture which has left a lasting, fond memory.
Throughout his life, James always did his own thing - he was never one to go along with the crowd. Content in his own company he was quite happy as a young lad to play in the sand on his own, just apart from his brother and cousins who were all digging together. He was never enthralled by the latest fads although he was somewhat distraught when Jane accidently washed his Tamagotchi which had been left in his jeans pocket and matters didn’t improve after Tom started laughing at him! Fashionable clothes didn’t interest him in the slightest - he had his very own unique way of dressing which usually involved a t-shirt, regardless of the temperature outside, in fact James loved the cold and did harbour a desire to live in Canada just because it had cold, snowy seasons. It seems the only things that James was really passionate about were roller coasters, storms and chocolate. Along with his family he visited just about every single theme park in the UK and he enjoyed his trips to Florida which is of course the theme park capital. With Tom happy to watch from the safety of the bench (he got sick just going on the children’s teacup ride!) James, Alex and Jane would ride the coasters again and again although they may have gone on a few too many times as when they returned from Florida Jane took James to the cinema where they sat in a pair of seats on the side of the theatre. All of a sudden there was a major panic as James shouted out “I’m not strapped in”!!!! It took him a while to live that one down!
If there was ever a storm you could guarantee James would be watching with his Mum. Together James and Jane would kneel in front of the window and watch as the sky came alive with bolts of lightning and the booming sound of thunder. Even better, would be for the storm to finish with a rainbow, then James would be happy. Chocolate was his other favourite thing in the whole wide world – he couldn’t get enough of it. Whether it was a chocolate chip cookie the size of his head or good old dairy milk, James could eat chocolate morning, noon and night and those candy mania desserts that you can get in pubs, the ones that are meant for sharing? James would eat one of those all by himself!!!
He attended Combs primary and middle schools, finishing his schooling at Stowmarket high school. He became close to his A-level further maths group and was well liked by his teachers. Having saved up for half of the cost, James was really excited about the school ski trip, especially as his maths group friends were also on the same trip and not only did he ski, he also went ice skating. Not bad for a lad that hated sports! It was during his time at high school that he met Emma. The two were together for four years and had many happy times with each other, before drifting apart whilst at different universities. Ever the romantic, James even bought Emma her very own piece of land in the Lake District making her a “lady” and his valentine’s cards were legendary. Never has a girl been sent a card with such lovely words written on the inside. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the word “sturdy” to describe the love of your life!!!!!!
Some other memories from James’s friends:
Alex, (his friend) - One of my best memories of James is from when we were on holiday together this summer. We were in a boat, and had become stranded from the harbour when the tide went out. James was the first of my friends to get out and pull the boat, and there's a great photo of my lazy girlfriend eating a biscuit while he drags the boat home.
Laura - Having known James since primary school, Laura has many happy memories of him. One memory in particular she has is from the 2011 ski trip. Whilst driving him to the dry ski slope lessons, Laura joined the A14 quite quickly to join the fast moving traffic and James clutched the seat like he was in a rocket about to take off, exclaiming blimey your car is fast! On the way home he slept the whole way, either because he was more comfortable with her driving by then or was too scared to look, but she hopes it was the first one!
Paul (Laura’s Dad) - James was extremely intelligent. When James and Laura were in primary school, Laura's mother and father used to go in and listen to the children read. Laura's father, Paul, remembers that he was shocked at how well James could read at the young age of 5, and thought he'd finally been stumped by a word, but to his amazement, James said ‘wait, no I do know this word; it's veterinarian!’ ‘But I bet you don’t know what they do?’ Paul asked, thinking he’d caught him out, and he replied ‘yes I do, they look after dogs!’
Having finished high school, James went on to study software engineering at Nottingham Trent University, where he made new friends. He fell in love with Nottingham, and felt at home there with friends who shared his interests. Whilst at university James wasn’t really one for keeping in touch as regularly as he should, he figured that unless he had something new to say there wasn’t really much point in calling home. He was also pretty direct when it came to texting. Jane and Tom would send him these lovely long texts and James would simply rely with “K” – not even an “OK”, just “K”!!!!
With so many memories of James, Jane and Tom have each written down their own thoughts on their lovely son, which I will now share with you, starting with a poem from Jane.
We loved you from the moment you were born
Your blond tipped hair and beautiful big blue eyes
You were always calm and happy
And only ever had the softest of cries
You were a joy when growing up
Inquisitive, full of how’s and whys
Always wanting to know how things worked
You’ve always been so wise
Your mind was way ahead of ours
A genius some may say
But your troubles were there along the way
And you felt you couldn’t stay
We’ll always love you Jamesie
You’ll always be our boy
We hope you’re now at peace somewhere
Can’t make the last line rhyme – bet you could!
This next tribute is from Tom.
Despite being born and having lived his whole life in England, James had a curious affinity with Scotland. Our little family didn’t really visit there regularly enough so I blame this connection on his Grampa, I suspect that he is responsible for secretly indoctrinating James behind our backs from a very young age. This could also explain James’ interest in birds and music and I know that my Dad was always very proud of James. Even in recent times James could recite Rabbie Burns and played Flower of Scotland beautifully, even singing along in a Scottish accent.
Dad, you and James are now reunited again, please take care of each other.
James, thankyou for everything, it has been a privilege to be your parent. You are always our braveheart, YOURS is the light that will never go out.
I think now would be a good time to take a short pause and listen to one of James’ favourite songs. For those of you that wish to, you may use this time for your own private prayers.
Reflection – Vincent, Don McLean
This following poem I think, speaks volumes.
You meant so much to all of us
You were special and that's no lie
You brightened up the darkest day
And the cloudiest sky
Your smile alone warmed hearts
Your laugh was like music to hear
I would give absolutely anything
To have you well and standing near
Not a second passes
When you're not on our minds
Your love we will never forget
The hurt will ease in time
Many tears I have seen and cried
They have all poured out like rain
I know that you are happy now
And no longer in any pain.
Look through the whole world and there is no one like James, but he still lives on in our memories and though no longer a visible part of our lives he still remains a member of our family, through the influence he has had on us and the special part he played in our lives. James will forever remain alive in your hearts – he will never be apart from you but rather a part of you. Always.
And so as we come to the end of our service we remember all that James loved in his life – his family, friends and the birds and music– all of which are around us all the time, which means wherever you may go in life there will always be a little bit of James which goes with you.
We give thanks for James’ life and for what that life has meant to us. We cherish the memory of his consideration for others, his generosity, his courage, his care but above all else we cherish his love.
James Andrew McGhee, a much loved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend who will always be forever young.
End – Forever Young, Alphaville