THE funeral of a retired geography teacher who was trampled to death by an elephant in India took place today.
Mourners packed into Portchester Crematorium to say a final goodbye to Colin Manvell, who died at the age of 67 while on holiday in India last month.
Mr Manvell, a keen birdwatcher, of Hallett Road, Denvilles, Havant, was taking photographs at the Masinagudi National Park when he was trampled on by an elephant, suffering fatal injuries.
Mr Manvell was well-known in the area as he was a long-standing member of The Avenue Lawn Tennis Club in Warblington and was treasurer for the Portsmouth and District Lawn Tennis Association Committee.
For many years he was head of geography at Warblington School and, to this day, there is an end-of-year trophy for excellence in his name.
More than 150 people attended the service, which began with the music ‘Be Still My Soul’, played by an organist.
The Reverend Canon Arthur Dean said Colin had ‘touched the lives of so many’ through his profession as a teacher and as a leading light in the local tennis community.
He said Colin’s family had had to ‘bear the tragic circumstances of his death’, but that Colin’s life must be celebrated.
The congregation then sang the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Ian Warn paid a heartfelt tribute to his cousin, describing him as ‘a true gentleman’.
He recounted nostalgic memories of their childhood together, playing tennis at Buckland Tennis Club and hitting balls against neighbours’ walls and being told off, and summer days at their uncle’s house at Hindhead.
He recalled a memorable bike ride they shared, cycling from Fareham to Southampton and eventually ending up in Lyndhurst.
He said this was just one example of Colin’s sense of adventure. In later life, Colin walked the Pennine Way, trekked in Iceland and was a frequent visitor to India, first travelling there 35 years ago.
He said: ‘Colin was always self-confident enough to go on these treks alone. But he was not a loner. He was confident in groups.’
He added: ‘Colin was generous, genuine and a true gent.’
Pete Davies, a fellow member and friend from The Avenue tennis club, said Colin was ‘an exceptional tennis player’ and won the club championships in 1976.
He was also president of the club from 1996 to 1999.
Colin, who was likened to the Australian tennis player Tony Roche, was described as a ‘cornerstone’ of the club, performing a number of roles, including maintenance, gardening and cooking.
People laughed as they remembered Colin attending step aerobics classes at the club.
Mr Davies said: ‘Many members of the club will miss him enjoying a pint or two in his trusty tankard.
‘Basically he did nearly everything at the club.’
He read out tributes that had been left in a book of condolence at the club.
One said: ‘I found him a generous person on and off the court.
‘His home-made crumble was the best.’
Another said: ‘His love of tennis together with the time and energy will be irreplaceable.’
Another said: ‘A good friend and a thoroughly good man.
‘We will miss your wonderful tales of your adventures and miss your smiley face and cheeky chuckle.’
One tribute said: ‘He has an enormous talent with a tennis racket.’
Club members said how Colin’s home-made curries were legendary.
Mr Davies said: ‘We have all lost someone very special.
‘With the very best of intentions, true to the end, he did things his way.’
The Reverend Dean paid tribute to Colin’s work as a geography teacher.
‘His life must have touched the lives of so many young people,’ he said.
‘I am sure they must have found a great deal of inspiration from all that he said and all that he shared.’
The congregation stood up and sang Morning Has Broken.