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Reading & Eulogy Funeral of Tegwen Owen

Stephen Fletcher

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Mon, 18/05/2015

Taken from the Funeral Service of Margret Tegwen Owen known to us all as Tegwen who died 28th April 2015 and was buried in our graveyard on 18th May 2015.

Matthew 5:1-10

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.


Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


This is a really powerful passage to have picked for Tegwen’s funeral and I am grateful to the family for choosing it.

I started reading it from the 1st verse of Chapter 5 because I wanted to provide the setting for this reading.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Matthew the writer of this Gospel is a Jew, a tax collector, someone despised by the general population. He is setting down this account of Jesus life for his fellow Jews who made up the early Christian Church.

So in this passage we are right at the start of Jesus’ teaching, at the start of his ministry.

So according to Matthew one of the first things Jesus did was climb up a mountain and begin teaching his disciples. 

Which is why we call this whole section from Chapter 5 to Chapter 7 we call it the Sermon on the Mount.

So Jesus goes up the mountain, sits down and begins to teach.  That would have rung bells with Matthew’s Jewish readers. 

Being good Jews who knew their Hebrew Bible, which forms part of our Old Testament, they would have known the story of Moses climbing up Mount Sinai and coming down with the Ten Commandments.  

That list of ‘Thou Shalt Nots’ which the Jews had to obey.  That list that everyone knows of whether they are Christians or not.

But Matthew is telling the story so that these Early Christian Jews can see the parallels.  Jesus is the new Moses. 

But his message is completely different.  Instead of giving a list of rules and regulations, a list of Thou Shalt Nots Jesus is telling us how much God loves us and especially those who we don’t tend to notice.

The poor in spirit those who are depressed.

Those who mourn.

Those who are meek and not pushy

Those who suffer for what is right.

Those who show mercy to others.

Those who have a pure heart.

Those who work for peace.

Those who are persecuted for standing up for what is right.

These are all people who we tend to forget in our society now and were certainly being forgotten about 2000 years ago in the society Matthew was writing to.  This was radical stuff!  This was different!


So it is with these verses in mind that I was thinking about Tegwen’s life particularly her life here in Bourne End.

Tegwen was born on 18th February 1932 and she was brought up in Bushey where she lived with her parents and her older brother Dilwyn. 

I am told that the Welsh influence shown in the choice of Welsh names came from Tegwen’s grandmother. 

The music at the beginning of our service was Bryn Terfyl singing Myfanwy this was Tegwen’s favourite piece of music obviously reflected her Welsh heritage.

Tegwen started her working life at a Nursery School in Watford where the children, unable to pronounce the name Tegwen called her Miss Penguin.

Well Miss Penguin obviously enjoyed the work and was good at it and she applied for and got a position as Student Nurse at The London Hospital. 

So she packed her bags and headed to London in 1950.  It was there that she met another Student Nurse who had come down from Sheffield Jean Kidger. 

They became good friends, a friendship which endures to this day.

After a period at the London Hospital as a qualified nurse Tegwen decided to train as a Midwife and did her part two training in the High Wycombe area where she was working in the District as a community midwife. 

I believe she was very good at it,  Jean tells me that there was at least one baby girl who was named Tegwen by a grateful mother. 

If you come across any ladies in the High Wycombe area aged fifty something and called Tegwen you can be pretty certain you know who their midwife was!

Tegwen then decided to become a Nurse Tutor and went to Queen Mary’s College to train. After that she had positions training nurses in The London, Mount Vernon and finally in the Watford School of Nursing. 

At this time Tegwen had moved back to Bushey and was also caring for her sick mother.

In 1982 Tegwen, Florence and Jean moved into a new house in Bourne End Lane and after a few years of illness Tegwen’s mother died and is buried in our churchyard here.

Around 1982 was a time when many of us moved into the village, the Pritchards, the Simons, the Summers, the Cowpers, the Dawsons, the Lennons, Audrey.  We all arrived around the same time.

Tegwen was very much part of the community.  She was Secretary of the PCC, she was on the Committee of BEVA the Village Association.  Until very recently she was still treasurer of the Women’s club.

Throughout this time Tegwen, and of course Jean, were always there for us as a community. 

They were the people to go to for medical advice,  as our children grew up they were the ones we went to for help when the children were sick, they were the ones we went to when our partners were sick. 

They took delight in seeing our children grow and develop, they remembered their names, their birthdays, their boyfriends. 

They delighted and shared in their achievements, consoled and comforted them in their disasters. 

I have slipped into saying they when talking of these things and I make no excuse for it.  Tegwen and Jean were a partnership.

We love our partnerships in this country! Some of our most trusted and loved institutions are partnerships! Think of Marks and Spencer, Morecombe and Wise, Ant and Dec! 

But Tegwen and Jean were different from those pairings. They were different because whereas you would never say Spence and Marks or Wise and Morecombe or Dec and Ant.  You could easily refer to Tegwen and Jean or Jean and Tegwen. 

Why?  Because they were both individuals, two marvellous, gifted, caring individuals neither one more important than the other. And they each brought their different gifts to care for their community.

Tegwen loved this village; she loved the people in it.  As she got older and frailer she was unable to do things for herself.  People would pop in unasked and do things for her. 

When she was telling me about these acts of kindnesses she would smile and say ‘That’s Bourne End for you’.

So as I reflected on Tegwen’s life I could see a definite thread running through it. 

That thread is caring for others.

Tegwen had a vocation, a calling. She was called to care for others. Whether it was her patients, her pregnant mothers, her student nurses, her own mother, her friends in the village, our children, she was called to care for all of them. And she enjoyed it, she loved her vocation. 

I think it is difficult for my generation to understand just what a calling can be in this way.  I would only refer you to the books by Jenifer Worth, another long term resident of Dacorum, seen on the BBC series Call the Midwife. 

The love and care we see there brings a lump to my throat. 

This was the era that both Tegwen and Jean grew up in.  This was their vocation and what a noble calling it was.

I am so sorry that Jean cannot be with us today.  She so wanted to be, she was so determined to be.  As most of you know last Tuesday Jean had a fall at the care home that she and Tegwen had moved to. 

She was taken to Watford hospital and has broken or cracked or chipped her pelvis or upper femur.  I saw her later that day and we had hoped she could still have been with us - but it is just not possible.

Today Jean has been visited by the Chaplain of the hospital and now the Revd Doug Loveridge is reading through this order of service with Jean and is reading her these very words at this moment. 

So Jean is joined with us now in our thoughts and prayers.


So that is why I thought that the passage we have just read from the Sermon on the Mount which the family chose as one of our readings today was so appropriate.

As I read through each of these teachings of Jesus I realised that Caring is the unwritten theme of each of these verses.  The people who are listed here can be comforted or blessed by someone caring for them.

So we see those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are hungry those who are persecuted we see that they will be blessed by someone caring for them. 

In the other verses we see that those who show mercy, those who are pure in heart, those who are peacemakers do these things and receive God’s blessing because they Care.

So Care for others is the thread which runs through this passage and it is Care for others that ran through Tegwen’s life.

So now it is time to say goodbye to our dear friend Tegwen as we lay her to rest with her mother in the village that she loved so much.

We thank God for her calling.

We thank God for her caring

We thank God for her life.