Please don’t shoot the messenger

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I AM reluctant to write this letter but feel compelled to do so, primarily to exonerate my colleague, David Cocksedge, who was singled out for criticism in your front page story last week about the funeral of Anthony Wheeler at Sudbury United Reformed Church.

At the tea party after the service, Mr Cocksedge, who was professionally responsible for Mr Wheeler’s will, announced the wonderful fact that the vast bulk of his £2million-plus estate was going to charities, three-quarters of them local (they have been notified since).

Your report quotes a senior elder of the United Reformed Church as saying that he and other elders thought that was “totally inappropriate” and something that Mr Wheeler “would not have liked to happen”, and even that it “defamed” him.

As the author of the idea, I do not want the messenger to be shot! It only came to me as we queued for tea but David immediately concurred, as did the acting minister from whom I swiftly sought permission.

In any event, the full will will soon be on public display at Somerset House, together with the value of the estate. Tony Wheeler was indeed modest, but sometimes it is right to blow someone’s trumpet for them, especially as it vividly reinforced the eulogies just given and showed that this devout Christian walked his own talk alright.

Perhaps the best indicator of how people felt was the acclamation with which it was greeted. It seemed the perfect occasion to break such good news. It seemed, and still seems, right that the 200 or so people there (many from away) should be the first to hear.

I hope the elders will, on reflection, agree with me.

ANDREW PHILLIPS

The Croft

Sudbury