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Saturday, December 3, 2016
Memorial service at Westminster Cathedral for Tom Hurndall
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 Moslem, Jewish and Christian prayers were said at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday during a packed memorial service for Tom Hurndall, the 22-year-old peace activist shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, as he escorted children across a road. The service was led by Bishop Bernard Longley. There was music from the English Chamber Choir, directed by Guy Prothero. Tom's parents, Jocelyn and Anthony, his brothers Freddie and Billy, sister Sophie and many friends, were joined by politicians and campaigners to remember his life. The congregation included Bianca Jagger and Palestinian Authority delegate Afif Safieh, Liberal Democrat MP Jenny Tonge and Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. Excerpts from Tom's Palestine diaries were read by his sister. In them he described his feelings about Jerusalem - "a place that is at the heart of three major religions and yet a place of such division and violence." He wrote of his concern for children growing up in an atmosphere of continuous fear and hatred. He also spoke of another peace campaigner who was killed: Rachel Corrie, who was crushed by a bulldozer that was demolishing a Palestinian house. "Tom seemed to have a premonition about his own death" she said. Describing himself as an 'agnostic, almost atheist' who had rejected his Catholic background, Tom wrote that he had been so touched by his visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site of Calvary that he had bought a cross on the way home. Tom was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pacifist organisation which send members to areas of conflict to live in solidarity with the civilians. In Israel, members had formed a 'human shield ' so that locals could repair a well. They also accompanied children to school. Tom was doing this when he was shot. In a moving tribute, his mother Jocelyn Hurndall spoke of her son's "conviction and compassion" and "concern for the vulnerable". She said: "Those were the convictions that led him to make that noble gesture, sacrificing his life so that a young Palestinian could live. "He has come to represent courage, humanity, and decency. Thousands of people who have never met Tom have written to us expressing how much of a difference he has made to their lives, and how their faith in humanity has been enhanced." She also described his wicked sense of humour and immense talent for friendship, his worrying lack of interest in money, possessions or nutrition. One of his old classmates, from the Sixth Form at Camden School for Girls, who attended the service, Alice Creedon, told the New Journal: "Tom was hardly ever there - but he was always the best in the class." Tom died at the London Royal Hospital for Neurodisability on January 13 after nine months in a coma. A private funeral service was held at St Joseph's in Highgate, in January, but Carl Arrindell, a spokesman for Tom's family, said they had always wanted a service to celebrate what he did. "There has been overwhelming demand from people from all walks of life who have been touched by the tragedy that eventually ended in Tom's death," he said. The family have now set up the Tom Hurndall Foundation to raise funds to provide legal assistant to prosecute soldiers who shoot unarmed civilians and children. Of the 2,750 Palestinian deaths since 2000, 512 have been children. 41,000 have been injured, of which 7,000 are children. On Saturday, the day of Tom's memorial, another child - this time a six-year-old boy was shot and killed. For more information about the Tom Hurndall Foundation write to: PO Box 34284, London NW5 1X5, or visit: http://www.tomhurndall.co.uk
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