One Thing I learned very early in my Broadcasting career- remember whoever you interview is a human being first and a professional whatever second.
It was about the best advice I have ever had, and I recalled it well on the drive into Cambridgeshire on Monday- my destination the magnificent Norman Cathedral of Ely that was to be the venue for the Memorial and Thanksgiving for Sir Henry Cecil.
Cecil liked the place, as much, one suspects because on a clear day he could see it from the height of Warren Hill where the string, so many of them Champions gathered each day.
We sang, including Sir Henry’s favourite hymn All things Bright and Beautiful, we listened to the tributes- led by Lord Teddy Grimthorpe the Racing Manager to Frankel’s owner and we remembered. And for us all in the Cathedral, a multitude 1,000 strong and more, I suspect we had lumps in the throat as the lone piper walked down the aisle at the end.
This was Farewell and Thank You to a very special human being who by word and deed and endeared himself to millions, so movingly summed up by Lord Grimthorpe saying ‘Henry did his best’. I have written before of my goods fortune to interview him and to have got to know him even though it was confirmed in a moving service ‘Henry’s best friends were his horses’.
It was also a day you realise just exactly what goes on behind a sports star and why people in my profession need to remember that advice. It’s the family that really matters.
Sir Henry’s family will be rightly proud of him, and he would have been so proud of how the younger generation coped with the ordeal of speaking in front of a crowd of the great, the good and the ordinary man who might not have met Sir Henry but still regarded him as a friend.
It was a day some of us will long remember.
PS. I can’t deny it had something of a pleasant surprise for me when I discovered that the Officiating Minister, Canon David Pritchard- a hugely impressive figure- had the misfortune of trying to teach me as a 13 year old at school. What is more worrying is that after so many years he remembered me!
Mike ‘Keep your halo straight’ Vince