Funeral for Pen. / by Dawn Webb

On Friday 27th September 2013 I think I can honestly say that I faced one of the hardest and emotionally controlling subjects my camera has ever seen!
I have travelled the world with a camera around my neck, from being on my belt buckle in Afghanistan and getting shot at to soldiers in Canada, Kenya, Cyprus, Iraq, Ireland, and more.
But this Friday I wasn't in full control, my camera shook and my eyes watered.  I could barely see through the viewfinder - I was shooting  @ 1/1000th and still have camera shake in some images, my ability to carry out simple tasks such as changing aperture, adjusting composition and so on seemed too difficult.

Friday 27th saw me shooting the funeral of my best friend, "Pen".
Pen had been very ill, and that hit me hard enough but a glimmer came every few months when you think "this man is a machine, he can beat this" - it got inside and beat him, only physically mind.

Pen - Anthony Penhaligan - was a friend for 18 years, a friend I served in the army with but more importantly a friend I had out of the army. I listened to Kitty - Pen said I was like his brother,  exactly how I saw him - WOW.
We rode bikes whenever we could, we flew kites when we could, we went on day trips when we could, we listened to music when we could and we ran when we could, we laughed when we could - we even doubled up and ate all of Kitty's cakes when we could.  Pen was always there for me during tough times. Our separate military lives meant we couldn't always be together but the sign of a good friend is to know that they know you are always there.

Kitty - Pen's REAL best friend and wife approached me to capture the day, knowing it's something Pen could trust me with.  The responsibility of making images for the family that would go with them forever, make history through the use of my camera and lens - keep that Penhaligan name going for eternity.  Something Arthur (youngest child) could cherish for years to come, and pass down to his family and so on and so on.
So no pressure then!  Throw into the pot that all of this has made me an emotional wreck too, I knew I had my work cut out.

The small and intimate funeral service was held at The Exeter & Devon Crematorium, where close family and friends were invited only.  I was honoured to be one of only two military friends in attendance, Mark Lamble being the other.  In talks with Kitty we both knew "NO" cameras would be allowed in the service, more onto that later!!!!

As I drove into the vehicle entrance of the Crematorium I passed a loan hearse, I thought nothing of it until BAMMMM it was Pen!!!!!!   My world crumbled, I forgot everything for that moment, he was there - adorned in a Union flag, alone as the sun beat down and the birds sang in the trees.
People walking past as if he wasn't there.......I didn't get it.

The Crematorium holds a place in my heart, as this is where my own mum is laid to rest.

So things got very real VERY QUICK.

I met with Don Jellard, the miliatry liaison who gave me a quick brief on the days events.

Pen was escorted into the Crematorium by random soldiers from the various Rifles regiments - lead by WO2 French.
I covered everything upto the point the doors were closed, where upon I took my seat with other friends and family members minus my cameras.
I could not hold my tears back, the emotions in that room will stay with me for the rest of the time I stand on this planet..........and I was just his friend.

As we heard three songs, and various readings it was time to say goodbye, how Kitty stayed so dignified it beats me - her head held higher than any of us.
I was the last person to leave that room, and I knew that the view as we left might fade as time passes us onto that "NO camera" rule - I am sorry but had to break it, I took the final shot as I left the room, Pen lying there free from pain, alone and peaceful behind the curtain - yet that view MUST go with the family, he will never be forgotten - I got it and I am glad I did. Knowing Kitty she will fully understand me, she will know why I had to take it.

We all moved to Exeter Cathedral for a service of remembrance, where more friends from all walks of life could join us in the celebration of the mighty man that Pen simply was, I don't know exact numbers but we filled the Cathedral easily!!!!
I tried to give full coverage of the event, both from the front and the rear of the Cathedral - without drawing too much attention to myself, great until your UV filter falls off on the stone floor!

Trying my best to remain utterly professional, knowing I had a very important job to do for Kitty and the kids - I could not let my my mind slip for a moment, I needed to capture the faces, emotions, the silence, the laughter, the memories, the regimental ethos for a man larger than life, a man that touched so many hearts, a man that had come into contact with every single person in this room - a man that will be missed for being the person he was.
I think I did it, and here in this blog I will show you some of my images, images that show me how the day went - after all it was a day of remembrance for my best friend Pen and all I could do was my VERY BEST.

Pen leaves behind Kitty, Rosie, Kai, Edward and Arthur.

love you mate


Goodbye mate