Patrick Mayhew


My father, Patrick Mayhew, died on 25th June 2016.  We felt a great loss, but right through his illness and now after his death our main feeling is of thankfulness.  He gave a wonderful example of grace, kindness and faith over the last few weeks and months, that was consistent with his character throughout his life.

When his condition was diagnosed as incurable, in April 2016, he didn't see that there was any need for sorrow saying to me, "Not at all.  Something's got to carry you off, don't you think?"  He had had Parkinson's for several years and may well have thought it a relief that cancer (which he'd had initially eight years before, and been successfully treated for) had returned.  He seemed unconcerned by the prospect of dying: "God's been astonishingly kind to me all my life.  I hope he'll continue to be."

He lost his older brother Jim during the war - Jim was killed in Italy aged 21 when Dad was 14 - so every opportunity since the war, and all his years of life, seemed to Dad a huge bonus.

He enjoyed politics.  He saw it as public service, that if you had gifts of leadership or other gifts that could be put to good use, you should do so.  He was particularly pleased when asked to be Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and gave it everything he could to help pave the way for peace there.  The whole family was rooting for him and for my mother, who left her job to be with him in Northern Ireland so that it was a partnership between them for the whole five years they were there.  He often said that she was much more popular than him.

The newspaper obituaries say more about his political life: the Telegraph's is here, the Times' here, the Belfast Telegraph's here, the Irish Times' here and the Guardian's here.

My biggest memories of him include love, marvellous humour and wit, a steely determination, a deep sense that we're all equal and that therefore we show deep courtesy and respect to everyone, generosity, a love of the countryside, of Ireland, of Kent, of his regiment and his many friends from the regiment including his best friend Nigel Bagnall, of walking preferably in hills, of dogs, and a passionate commitment to justice and the rule of law.  Holidays every summer in the west of Cork when we were children, with our Irish cousins and many other friends, formed a bedrock of our memories of family life.  He was a convinced and committed Christian.  He was great fun, a leader, and a friend and helper to many.

I am very thankful to God, and to my father and mother, and to my brothers and their families, for such blessings.

His funeral was held on 6th July 2016.  A recording of the whole service is here.  A recording of the tribute (written by all four sons) that I gave as part of that service, is here.  The text of that talk is here.  The text of the sermon given by Hugh Nelson is here.

A Thanksgiving Service for him was held in St Margaret's Westminster on 2nd March 2017.  Sir John Major gave the main tribute.  Hugh Nelson preached.  I gave a shorter talk on behalf of the family, written with my brother Jerome, which is here.  The order of service is here.


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