Yesterday I attended the funeral service of a remarkable man.
Graham Halford was remembered and farewelled at a beautiful service at the Norwood Crematorium at Mitchell in the ACT.
I attended the service as a representative of Australian Canoeing to acknowledge and celebrate Graham’s role in the flourishing of canoeing in Australia from 1982 onwards. Amongst many of Graham’s off water contributions were:
- An accredited ICF Official in Sprint and Marathon
- Technical Organiser for the World Marathon Championships in Brisbane in 1992
- A Chairman of the AC Marathon Racing Committee
- President of New South Wales Canoeing from 1996 to 2000.
- Competition Manager, Canoe/Kayak Sprint for the Sydney Olympic Games, working with SOCOG from January 1999 to October 2000.
- Member of the Board of Australian Canoeing from 2001 to 2004.
John Malcolm made a moving tribute to Graham and his life in canoeing. I listened with fascination to the role Graham played in the delivery of the Olympic canoe/kayak sprint event in Sydney. John’s oration was an outstanding statement of what volunteers can achieve in sport particularly with Graham’s intellect and wisdom.
Graham’s funeral service was in two parts. The first part involved four tributes to Graham. The second part involved a series of readings chosen by Graham. They included a poem about baseball, a reading from Ecclesiastes, a canto from Ezra Pound and a WB Yeats poem.
The Ecclesiastes reading reminded us that “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet whether he eat little or much” and that “the profit of the earth is for all”. I liked the part of Ezra Pound’s Canto 13 that affirmed:
If a man have not order within him
He can not spread order about him;
And if a man have not order within him
His family will not act with due order;
And if the prince have not order within him
He can not put order in his dominions.
And Kung gave the words “order”
and “brotherly deference”
And said nothing of the “life after death.”
And he said
“Anyone can run to excesses,
“It is easy to shoot past the mark,
“It is hard to stand firm in the middle.”
Graham’s friend Peter spoke about him too and he encouraged us to think about the sliver of Graham all of his family and friends carried with them. I left the service uplifted by Graham’s story and life … and thinking about WB Yeats’ observation that:
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.