Tom Twisleton (1917-2017) memorial service

Canon John Twisleton’s input at Tom Twisleton memorial service in Holy Ascension, Settle on 25th November 2017

Thank you, Hazel Richardson, for your contribution to Tom’s Centenary, with our young people, under the auspices of Settle Stories - a privilege to get to know you and to work with you over the last year! It’s good to be ‘Back in Settle’ this weekend, not just with 2400 members of the Facebook group of that name, but actually here right now with fowk signing off Tom Twisleton 100 before God. What a great centenary! A celebration of our Dales, our dialect, our farming, of Twisletons near and far in space and time, and an achievement for the young people who’ve shaped this year and this service.

I’m Dalesman become Downsman. As plain speaking Yorkshireman I just fit in Sussex - they’re accommodating!  I’m Tom’s kin all right. I’m also lang like lang Tom - 6 foot 3 - they gave me the nick name  Fourth Peak at Giggleswick School!  Like Tom I’m a preacher man - I’m having the last word, as preachers do! As was said, we join this afternoon with the community of faith Tom was part of. Baptised an Anglican at Giggleswick he ended his days more Free Church so his funeral at Burley was as if from Zion Congregational. Like Tom I’m also a fringe Anglican but on the Catholic fringe. It’s a privilege - thank you, Hilary - to speak in the Church where I used to serve Mass for Canon Eric Ashby and where Greg and Elsie, my father and mother, sang in the choir. Elsie’s now 95 and sends apologies - I’ll play a video message from her at tomorrow’s service.

Back to you, cousin Tom. I spoke of’ straight speaking’ and it's that Yorkshire quality I pick up in the Ode I’ve penned for you that ends our memorial service. Since my father, Greg, read Lile Bobby to me on his lap I’ve had a love for you, Tom, your warmth, humour and integrity. How could I imagine a day like today when I’d hear Lile Bobby in Church with your little son Robert’s descendants? Like you, Tom, I would aspire to integrity, to speak truth unto power, to shake shackles of addiction, and to challenge hypocrisy in the name of our common Lord Jesus Christ, whose Truth sets us free:


A century on and your words are still read

for the truth that you tell is undying,

of the beauty of Craven, our dialect, our farming,

the power of speech and of rhyming.

The untruths we live among, some of them new

such as ‘post-truth’ bring misinformation

so the call for integrity’s never been louder.

We need such as you in our nation.

The Truth that sets free was your inspiration.

You spoke and folk saw their deceit.

Many were freed from addiction and wrong

as they willingly sat at your feet.

Your humour and warmth shine out of your poems

as you make yourself one with your fellows

setting forth to them truth which has power in itself

needing whisper or rhyme and no bellow.

‘Lang Tom’ you lived as a giant among men

but your words are no truth spoken down to us

rather the truth that flows up from the humble

for you are one who lived his life close to us.

Speaking truth unto power you shake off the shackles

of bondage, vain thought and hypocrisy

through allegiance to God whose Truth never errs

and shines out to us through your integrity.


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