An inspiration in work and in defying illness

I went to Trevor Seath’s funeral at All Saints Church last week. Readers will remember Trevor, of course. He was the councillor for Harbour Ward from 1983-1987.

He was the first Labour councillor in Whitstable for many years, and the front page of the newspaper at the time showed a picture of him leaping one of the breakwaters on the beach in celebration.

That was Trevor: always full of energy and enthusiasm.

I first met him in 1984, not long after I first came to the town. I remember him as a friendly, approachable, slightly nervous character, who chain smoked all the time.

We had many conversations in those early days, and it was a pleasure to meet someone as idealistic and optimistic as me.

31bij-ise3l-_bo1204203200_In later years he and Julia Seath (herself also a councillor for a while) had a profound influence on me, although they probably didn’t know it. They leant me a book, called Witness Against the Beast, by EP Thompson: a biography of the poet and engraver, William Blake. Thompson traces Blake’s lineage back to something he refers to as The English Dissenting Tradition: to the antinomian sects who proliferated during the English Civil War.

Reading about the existence of such a movement made it clear to me that that was where I came from. It gave me renewed confidence in my political standpoint to be able to tell people that I was part of the venerable tradition of English Dissent.

Trevor was diagnosed with Dementia in 2012, but, instead of allowing it to undermine him, he rose up to embrace the illness. He became a spokesman for the Dementia and Alzheimer’s community, dispelling myths and taboos and raising public awareness about the condition.

The funeral was a lively affair, with the Church packed with people who had come to pay their respects.

The standout moment, for me, was singing William Blake’s great dissenting anthem, Jerusalem. It’s a series of questions to which the answer is always “yes!” Funerals are supposed to be sad affairs, but it’s hard to be sad when roaring out such life-affirming truths.

I feel certain that Trevor would have wanted to join in.

Obituary in the Whitstable Gazette: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/whitstable/news/former-councillor-leaves-legacy-in-125845/

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From The Whitstable Gazette 18/05/17

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