Address by the Revd David Martin, Rector of Alvechurch
Funeral of Peter Rippington
It was a life rooted in the community. Peter was born in Alvechurch, went to school in the village, and lived and worked in the village for thirty-one years.
It is, of course, the members of his family who knew him most intimately. Today, our hearts go out to his mother, Lorna, his stepfather, John, his brother Paul, his sister Liz, his step-brothers David and Peter; and especially to his greatly-loved wife, Sharon and his two remarkable children, Amy and Max.
Peter and Sharon married in 1984. They have shared 28 years together. It was a marriage clearly made in heaven because they complemented each other perfectly. They also provided a loving home in which their children, Amy and Max, were able to grow to maturity knowing they were loved and secure.
I speak for the whole community when I express our condolences and sympathies to all members of the family in their sad loss.
Some people live just for their own family, but Peter was not of that ilk. His family embraced the 3,000 children whom he had taught over the years, the young people he refereed and umpired on the sports-field, and the enormous number of friends he had. Peter truly lived for others. This has been shown by the huge outpouring of love and sympathy that has taken place over the past two weeks.
Peter was born to be a teacher. After attending the Abbey High School in Redditch he went to Sunderland Polytechnic for his teacher training. His first teaching post was at Dingleside Middle School, Redditch. Then he returned home to Alvechurch CE Middle School as Head of Boys PE and Games. The rest is history, as they say.
He organised football teams, basketball teams, took children on trips to Alton Towers, Waterworld and the Snowdome, bowling and McDonalds. He rooted for Aston Villa, in good times and in bad, played golf at King's Norton Golf Club, and Squash. He refereed at weekends in six football leagues, involving all-age and mixed-sex teams. He was a qualified mountain leader, and his annual skiing trips were the highlights of many a young person's year.
But it wasn't simply sport and school trips that he promoted. He was also an excellent mathematician. As a member of the school Senior Management Team and Head of Maths, he drove standards higher and higher - sometimes with unorthodox methods - but he got the results that were needed.
Peter was very much part of this community. Many teachers like to keep their private life and their teaching career separate, and so they live a distance away from where they teach. Peter was not of that number. He revelled in living amongst those he taught.
He and Sharon made their married home first in George Road. Then, in 1987, they moved to Callow Hill Road. Peter was deeply committed to Alvechurch. Indeed, he has been described as "Mr Alvechurch".
It seems to me there are two ways of living one's life. Either one can put oneself first and concentrate on amassing wealth, acquiring possessions and looking after Number One. Or, one can live for others; and bring joy and happiness into other people's lives; deriving pleasure from making others happy. Peter was of the latter persuasion. Had he been of the first, the numbers here today would have barely filled the nave. Because he lived for others, this church is not able to contain all those who want to thank God for his life.
Being a keen sportsman, Peter knew all about the importance of physical fitness and training. He would have agreed with what St Paul was saying about the importance of setting one's sights on winning, and the importance of disciplined training.
So it is in the Christian life. We set out sights on the Kingdom of Heaven (the finishing line) and then have to work hard, day by day, to cover the ground that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. Serving others lies at the heart of the Christian life. Peter leaves us an example to follow and, if we do follow it, it will be his eternal legacy.
Peter has been taken from us in tragic circumstances, doing the thing he most enjoyed. If Peter had known the coach in which he was travelling was going to crash and one person would die, and he was asked to choose who that person would be, who do you think he would have chosen? Without a doubt it would have been himself. He was so selfless. He was just that sort of person. He would never have lived with himself if one of the children in his care had been killed. He reminds me of another person who gave up his life for others - Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We were reminded in the second of our bible readings that Jesus said he was going ahead of us to prepare a place for us once our life on earth was completed. He said there was a place waiting for each one of us, and he likened it to a room in his Father's house.
It is in that faith we are today commending Peter to God's safekeeping. We pray that God will look in His love and mercy upon Peter, take him to Himself, and keep him safe for all time, until we meet together again in God's heavenly kingdom.
The Diocese of Worcester is one of 44 dioceses in the Church of England. It covers an area of 671 square miles and includes parishes in the County of Worcestershire, the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, and a few parishes in northern Gloucestershire, south east Wolverhampton and Sandwell.
From: Sam Setchell, Press Officer for the Diocese of Worcester and the Bishop of Worcester
Tel: 01905 20537 Mobile: 07852 302516 Fax: 01905 612302