On the 8th May we received the very sad news that our wonderful friend Kerry had lost the bravest of battles with cancer. She has been an inspiration to the whole of the choir throughout her journey of this indiscriminate illness and leaves us all truly saddened but richer for having known her.
It came as no surprise, that with the call given out, so many of our members past and present made their way to Richmond on Saturday for 'A Celebration Of The Life Of Kerry Watt.'
We felt the service was just as Kerry would have wanted and at this point I am turning over to the words and tribute read by Sarah Gillespie, whilst a fifty strong choir waited to sing 'The Lord Is My Shepherd' (which we recorded at rehearsal in the morning for the members, who couldn't make it, to hear.)
"I have known Kerry for a good few years, as a friend, as a doctor, colleague and as a WAG, but it is probably as a WAG that her indomitable spirit has shone through the most.
For those of you who don't know, the WAGS is a choir set up to offer support to those in the military community. Wives, affiliates, girlfriends and service women came together before a difficult tour seven years ago and formed this choir, and over the past five years the WAGS have enjoyed Kerry's company, her clowning (there are innumerable photos in the choir library of her gurning and larking around), her friendship and her singing. And of course for some in the choir there are much deeper connections too, for example we have Pip who trained alongside Kerry at Sandhurst, and Kryssy who was one of Kerry's most dear and treasured friends, and for whom there is now a gaping hole in life where Kerry stood.
For all of us, over this last 6 months, since Kerry knew she was going to die early, we have seen and learned so much from the way Kerry chose to live her life. She expressed sadness but never self-pity, generosity of spirit rather than bitterness or anger, and a consideration of those around her that was remarkable to behold.
Kerry was in the alto section of the WAGS, and I have to say we're a bit keen on socialising in the alto's, and poor old Kerry put up with us regularly landing on her for a bit of a craic right up until she went into hospital a couple of weeks ago. We cherish those evenings because of warmth and fun of being together, but more than that, when I think back I see Kerry blazing a trail of enduring humour and love, using each and every day to give and draw joy, in a way that has been an example to us all.
Kerry often spoke to me about her funeral and the songs she hoped the choir would sing. In the end she plumped for 'The Lord Is My Shepherd' and Joyful Joyful, the first really reflects her feelings, Kerry felt utterly secure and where she was going and how that would feel. The second she said she would like because she didn't want people leaving the service feeling down and miserable and she thought Joyful, Joyful would be uplifting; I did point out to her that this was a jolly big ask, that she was aiming for a quantum leap in emotion from everyone, to which she fixed me, smiled and said 'well you can give it a go'
Before I finish I have a short poem to read to you."
We Can Shed Tears That She Is Gone ~ David Harkins
We can shed tears that she is gone
Or we can smile because she has lived
We can close our eyes and pray that she will come back
Or we can open our eyes and see all that she has left
Our hearts can be empty because we can't see her
Or we can be full of the love that we have shared
We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday
We can remember her and only that she is gone
Or we can cherish her memory and let it live on
We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs
Or we can do what she would want: smile, open our eyes, love and go on.