They buried him on a sunlit spring day in the churchyard across the fields from his home.
It sounds like a cliché, but Patrick was a man who lived and breathed this small part of the world and was at the heart of it for nearly all of his 85 years. Yes, he owned many of the tenanted farms, houses and woodland around here, but to dismiss him as just a landowner is an injustice. He was someone we valued as a friend and a member of our communities.
In the pubs you would hear his name spoken universally with the utmost respect. We looked to him make decisions that would be best for the communities around here and he rarely let us down. Developments for affordable housing that were sensitive to the needs of the community and the environment. Amenities for the local community and support for local community projects.
On a personal note, a family member needed a bolt hole having escaped a dying marriage, Patrick found her a home in one of the smaller hamlets. When she returned to her husband he cancelled their rental agreement but also returned all the rent she had paid thus far.
Long term tenants always paid affordable rents.We live in commuting distance of London – it would be so easy for Patrick to have rented out houses for three or four times as much as he did. But he valued the communities and their integrity more then just making a fast buck.
The rent on the allotments behind our cottage, which supply half the hamlet with an embarrassment of fruit and veg, have remained uncollected for years.
I liked him for the fact that he was so enamoured with guinea pigs, his collection at one stage numbered 90!
In the end they had to use the entire cricket pitch bar the wicket for additional parking and a marquee to house the overflow from the church. His name will continue to crop up in conversations with the same warmth but with less and less frequency.
They buried him in an oak coffin, made from a single tree that grew in the woods he had played in as a boy and tended as man, in the quiet of an English country churchyard.