We opened our meeting on 24th January with spontaneous tributes to Rosemary Crawley, who was instrumental in creating our charity two years ago and died in hospital on 17 January 2022.
We all share the experience of being inspired by Rosemary. This has taken many forms: her active pastoral concern as we faced personal crises around our status as asylum seekers, and practical support as we succeeded in gaining access to further education. Our relationships with her ranged from surrogate mother to the deepest of friendships, and as a highly respected colleague who could challenge us through humour and sharing her broad and deep experience of administration in social and public service. She was a pillar of support as we took on new roles in our charity, and we will be calling on her spirit as we strive to continue in these.
We are still in shock at her death, and find it hard to express our sense of loss in words. We have found some consolation in passages from the New Testament: the beatitudes can be applied to her in all their fullness, especially in her witness for peace at personal and institutional levels. She gave us strength and comfort as we faced loss, through constant love and care, and we all count it a rare privilege to have known her.
Turning again to the New Testament, we see her as an outstanding exemplar of the concept – by no means limited to Christianity – of loving our neighbours as ourselves. We have experienced that love, as her neighbours – along with countless others; and we recognise her extraordinary resilience in the depth of her awareness of herself as, in her own words, a deeply happy Black woman whose personality had been tested first through childhood and then survival from near fatal illness and emotional stress.
We now face the challenge of carrying forward her vision as we test our ability to continue her and our commitment to the aims and ideals of our charity.
The video of Rosemary’s funeral is available on Vimeo. You don’t have to login – you can play it or use the download button and view it on your computer or other device.