Burial date 26-5-2000
Written and read by Leo Carrington, Stratford.
Why smile in such sadness? It’s because of memories of laughter shared in the past, of the humour of life, the fun and the joy. The reminiscences certain to last.
Why relief in such sadness? It’s because there is peace. No more chance of pain. No one can hurt or take away. There will never be fear again.
Today is a time of public recognition of the tragic death of one who was known to us as a son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, brother and friend. I use the word tragically because the manner of his death will remain a mystery for all time. No one will ever know, nor should they consider any necessity to unravel this unexpected event. One matter is certain- that no blame can be accepted consciously or unconsciously by any person. For whatever, the reason, the decision was his alone.
Our responsibility at this time and in the days ahead is to support Phill, Carol, Bridget, Angela and their families in the way we know best.
On behalf of the family, welcome and thank you for coming to share in this special ceremony. Death, in a number of ways, unites us all. This young man’s death demands that each of us puts aside or business, our other interests and pleasures to unite with each other as we share in a common bond of love and respect for Andrew. The final parting signified by death is bound to bring shock and sorrow whenever ties of love and friendship are involved. Those of you who feel deeply will grieve deeply. No philosophy or religion ever taught can prevent this wholly natural reaction of the human heart, yet whatever relationships or enterprises death breaks in upon, we can be sure that those whom we have lost are finally and eternally at peace. Nothing can detract from the joys and beauty that you shared with Andrew. Nothing can possibly affect the happiness and depth of experience that he himself knew. What has been, has been—for ever. The past with all its meaning is sacred and secure. Your love for him, his love for you his family and friends cannot be altered by any circumstance.
We rejoice that Andrew is a part of your lives. His influence endures in unending consequences in your own acts and thoughts. You will remember him as a living, vital, presence. That memory will bring refreshment to your hearts in times of trouble. These are reflections that you treasure, for there can never be too much human warmth, too much affection or too much love. The hurt is almost unbearable—yet we will live through it. It is because we now feel such deep pain, it is because the inner ache is so great, that we realise now how much we loved him and yet the agony inside gives a strange comfort. It tells how much we loved him. We would not feel any other way because the grief and heartache bears witness to the depth of our love. We also know that thoughts of him will forever bring comfort.
What of this young man, Andrew Spragg? Born at Stratford, he became recognised by all who knew him as a cheerful and happy young boy, with personality of his own, sometimes on the cheeky side . He could be naughty. He could be lovable and was certainly loved.
He related particularly well with children of his own age, with whom he spent many hours……….so his personality was becoming evident…..one which was to endear him to others throughout his short life. He also earned the nick-name of G-Garps which is Spragg spelt backwards.
Was he a dreamer? A philosopher? We are advised his journey from School to Home was about 10 minutes. For Andrew, three quarters of an hour was barely enough. There was much to investigate, much to ponder…..so he would slowly make his way, leaving little unexplored……perhaps an indication for his love of the outdoors and life on the land.
As a scholar at Stratford and Mahoe Primary Schools, it could not be claimed he was an academic genius, but he made the grade. Not that he had too much choice, for Mum was a teacher at the Schools. High School was a bind, a necessity to be tolerated until his fifteenth birthday. At last came the freedom of living a life of outdoors, following his particular interests.
He began with FEATS a training organisation designed to foster the talents of those prepared to learn. Andrew had this love of the land and it was natural for him t study towards this aspect of activity.
Farmer neighbour at Mahoe, John Payne spoke with Andrew after he had completed his time with FEATS, asking if he would like to work for him in the Spring calving season-a challenge to his dedication for it was a cold and very wet Spring, but he not only enjoyed it, he loved it.
This was the beginning of a lasting friendship, as the result of his bubbling personality. John describes him as an awesome young guy who related well to all of the family; of one who enjoyed the company of others because of his attitude of fun..
John spoke of their association with the Stratford Tug O War Club. His nickname was Junior, mainly because he was smaller than all of the others. It was a name that just happened and stuck.. As a team member, his popularity was a feature, mainly because of his fun attitudes. While he followed other farming interests, their friendship never waned.Even as recently as last January, he made contact while he was home, sharing experiences of the past with his irrepressible humour. "We will miss him greatly", spoke John.
As a young person, he never lacked an interest in community activities, I guess because of his affinity with people. He was a member of Keas, Junior Cubs then Cubs. He was involved in gymnastics for some five years. Mum, as an instructor, obviously cultured this activity. His love of sport extended to soccer and then a change of code to rugby because many of his friends were playing that sport.
His sisters advise that he always was interested in what mwas very good at dismantling anything mechanical, which included cars, motor bikes and clocks but was not so adept at reassembling them to their original condition.
He related to his sisters in what was considered a normal reaction between families. From this I assume there was a certain amount of male superiority for we are told that when ever a need for "Who did that?’ arose, his automatic response would be "It wasn’t me!!". Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t.
Phill remembers his son with obvious pride. He speaks of his loves, of his happy nature, his natural and fun attitudes towards all whom he associated.
Yes, Family have a multitude of memories which will be recalled whenever an event or similarity occurs. Each time, be it by deed or thought, he will live on with you, and for you.
The Webb Family have their memories of this lad who would finish his meal of vegetables at home and dash over to them for pudding. Such was the regularity of his visits that a place was automatically set for him each night.
Hi continued to pursue his farming career in areas away from Taranaki, making friends wherever he settled. His last position was with the Wade family at Te Aroha where he had the excitement of working with one of the top herds in the district. With the position came responsibility. Such was the confidence of his employers that he was left in charge while they spent a fortnight’s holiday away from the property. They were impressed with his attitude and love of his son Zayne.
His was the farm cottage and the walls were covered with photograp0hs of his son, providing yet another insight into his tremendous capacity for love.
So his legacy will live on and each of you here will have your own private memories. Memories which will recur in the future and as each unfolds, he will live on for you.
Perhaps his final message would be
"Farewell to you, and the youth I spent with you.It was but yesterday we met in a dream. But let me figure in your daily talk. Tell of my loves and joys;of how I used to laugh. That way you will keep me in your memory. This is my hope for immortality".
I have spoken but a precis of the life of Andrew. Others present wish to share their thoughts of Andrew and the life they knew.
John, would you please come forward, and John and Peter.
(John and John and Peter to speak)
Andrew’s Grandma from Hamilton has asked that her sentiments be read also his Aunty Margaret and family friends, Dale and Terry from Auckland. (Separate sheets).
Let us now spend a few minutes reflecting upon his life and the effect of that life upon us.
Our Service draws to a close and before we say our final farewell, I give you a poem received by family from a friend. You may wish to follow it on the back of the memorial Sheet. (Read from sheet)