IN A CELEBRATION of Sir Patrick Moore’s life, one thing was certain – he loved Selsey and Selsey loved him.
The Selsey Centre was packed with friends gathered to remember Sir Patrick over the years – and his immersion in the community was something which stuck out.
But the event, held on what would have been Sir Patrick’s 90th birthday, was not a solemn affair, as his friends understood him well.
It was an evening of memories and of laughter, with speeches and music from those closest to him.
Plans for the future were also revealed, including an observatory in the town in tribute to Sir Patrick.
John Mason, his friend and colleague, spoke of his memories of Patrick, and the remarkable life he lived. He also read from Patrick’s satirical book Bureaucrats: How to Annoy Them, which went down well with his audience, rousing laughter at his antics.
Chris Beaumont gave a xylophone recital, performing several songs composed by Patrick himself, including Dolphin Dance and Penguin Parade. Chairman of Selsey Town Council Mike Beale and Selsey Coastal Trust’s Roland O’Brien outlined plans for an observatory.
Mr Beale said: ‘It’s an exciting project and a fitting tribute.
‘We want the observatory to be part of the family of Selsey, rather like Sir Patrick had been.’
John Reeve talked about his fond memories from Selsey Cricket Club, which Sir Patrick was deeply involved with, and their popular Selsey curry club. Patrick loved Selsey, in fact he was simply, purely, Mr Selsey,’ he said.
A round table discussion ended the night with the Sky at Night presenter’s friends, Dr Paul Abel, Jon Culshaw, Brian May, Sir Tim Rice, John Mason and Iain Nicholson, who shared their memories of the astronomer.
Mr May spoke fondly of his friend, saying ‘he was my hero’.
He recognised Patrick’s strong link with his community, And he got to know Selsey too, after his first ‘important’ meeting with Patrick in 1996 – a night which ‘began a great friendship’.
‘I had met him a few times, but the first important meeting was when Dirk Maggs was working with Patrick on a radio series.
‘He said, “You have to meet Patrick, you get excited about the same things”, and we came to meet him one night. He was, of course, incredibly welcoming, and he showed us Saturn. It was a boys’ night, and it ended up going late into the night.”
Brian said after that, there were many nights at Patrick’s home Farthings, where they wrote books together and shared their love of astronomy.
‘There’s so many things I could say about Patrick but I would like to thank him publicly really because he turned my life around more than once,’ he said.
‘As a kid, he made me want to look up to the stars, as a friend later on he turned me round again because I’d gone deeply into the land of the musician and I didn’t think I had the capability to be an astronomer, and he said, ‘Nonsense, nonsense – you can do your PHD’.
‘Patrick was like an uncle to me, I suppose, or a father figure, as he was to so many people.’
All proceeds from the event will be donated to St Wilfrid’s Hospice.