A memorial service for Tindle Newspapers founder Sir Ray Tindle CBE DL saw 230 guests pack into St Andrew’s Church in Farnham.
Sir Ray died on April 16 this year and the memorial service was held the day before what would have been his 96th birthday.
The guests were welcomed by The Reverend H David Uffindell, who said: “We are gathered together to remember and give thanks for the life of Sir Ray Tindle.
“We are especially grateful that His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, is representing King Charles III, who regrets he is unable to attend.”
Speaking of Sir Ray’s wife and son, he added: “It is a great encouragement to Lady Beryl and Owen that so many people are here today.”
After a rousing start to the service with William Blake’s hymn Jerusalem, the Lord-Lieutenant read Psalm 121 from the King James Bible.
Rev Uffindell then gave an address in which he said the Bible – “still a world best-seller” – and newspapers were both important sources of printed communication, adding: “Sir Ray was supremely a newspaper man.”
Describing the determination and optimism which led Sir Ray to live such a long life, Rev Uffindell said: “Some of us even thought Sir Ray would live forever.”
More uplifting music followed with an organ interlude by organist Geoff Tuson, before tributes were paid to Sir Ray by his son Owen Tindle, Farnham Town Mayor Cllr Alan Earwaker, David Newell OBE and Robert Stiby OBE.
Owen Tindle said: “What a fantastic turnout, thank you all so much for coming. My father Sir Ray would have been very pleased and very humbled to know so many people had come along to his memorial service today.
“My father was a great man and an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary and amazing life.
“He always said he would live forever. When he became ill for the last time he said 100. He got to 95 and a half. He never ever surrendered.”
Sir Ray was passionate about cars and owned a 1904 Speedwell Dogcart which he drove every year in the gruelling London to Brighton car run.
Owen said: “He completed 46 of the 50 London to Brighton runs he took part in from 1964. We always had to keep going. Nothing short of complete mechanical failure would keep us from the finish line.”
Sir Ray had “a great sense of humour” and loved to tell jokes, said Owen, and dedicated his life to his work, staff, family and childhood sweetheart, “the lovely Beryl”.
He added: “He was a force of nature, a fighter and a winner. He was always entertaining but if you went up against him in business you would probably lose. He built up a huge empire of more than 200 newspapers and a dozen radio stations and was proud of every one of them.
“He has been called one of the greatest local newspaper men of all time. It’s six months since he died but it’s still hard to believe that he’s gone. A bright light has gone out but we will never ever forget him.”
Cllr Earwaker said: “It’a a great privilege to be invited to pay tribute to Sir Ray today. He had many qualities as a successful businessman and with Lady Tindle was a great philanthropist to his adopted town.
“He was a prime mover in saving some key Farnham assets that faced an uncertain future and helped unemployed people through Tindle Enterprises. He brought together the movers and shakers and made his own financial contribution.
“The Old Court House became the home of the Tindle empire and was the venue for some delightful lunches and some light-hearted puns from his little black book of jokes from the newspaper industry.
“Sir Ray was affectionately known as Mr Farnham and he has left an indelible mark on our town. Farnham Town Council is particularly grateful to Sir Ray as the inspiration and sponsor of the Services to Farnham Awards for the town he loved. It is fitting he will be remembered for his service each time others’ service is honoured.
“We will miss his smile, good humour and wise counsel but will be grateful we had the good fortune to know him.”
Mr Newell said: “I always had a great sense of excitement at being met by Sir Ray and taken to 10 Downing Street – Lady Tindle’s charity shop – in either his oil-spluttering Speedwell Dogcart or a much faster car.
“His acute business acumen was unrivalled and envied. No-one would not take a call from Sir Ray, or would not be charmed by Sir Ray.
“He had wartime experiences and was deeply patriotic. He knew the power of newspapers and the role of a proprietor. He had meetings and phone calls with the royal family and prime ministers, all of whom revered Sir Ray.
“He inspired complete loyalty as he had done almost every job himself. When speaking to the Newspaper Society in front of 50 publishers he could hold a room with his oratory. He saw the big picture, the importance of the newspaper industry working together against the power of the state and vested interests.
“There was a personal charisma and conviction to Sir Ray and his enduring legacy is to show that newspapers matter if owned by people of integrity.”
Mr Stiby said: “Sir Ray was one of those unforgettable characters and I am truly honoured to be here today to honour 60 years of friendship with a man who fought so many battles. He was a man of great courage, optimism and self-belief.
“Sir Ray acted as my mentor in everything – including journalists’ expenses, which was something close to his heart. They have a reputation as being some of the greatest works of fiction ever written.
“I learnt so much from him, from newspapers to being one of the founders of Capital Radio in 1973. I couldn’t have done it without Sir Ray’s help.”
Mr Stiby told the congregation how Sir Ray would not let him retire to California after they sold their shares in Capital Radio. Sir Ray said he wanted him to run Tindle Radio, but also his local newspaper in California, giving Mr Stiby a good excuse to spend time in the American sunshine as well.
He also said Sir Ray’s approach to business could sometimes be unconventional, such as when a debate over buying a radio station in Ireland was settled when Sir Ray was told its studios were in Tullamore, home to one of his favourite whiskeys. “So much for due diligence,” said Mr Stiby. “Working with him was really such fun.”
Mr Stiby described Lady Beryl as “a marvellous woman” and said: “It’s been a privilege to know you and Sir Ray.”
He added: “Sir Ray lived a great many lives – philanthropist, patriot, soldier, veteran car enthusiast, family man and businessman. I know we will all miss him greatly as a friend, guide and mentor.”
After the tributes the music resumed with the hymn Fight The Good Fight by John Samuel Bewley Monsell, before Sir Ray’s favourite poem – Abou Ben Adhem, by James Leigh Hunt – was read by Tristram Jordan of Adapt Dementia Ltd.
This was followed by prayers, ending with The Lord’s Prayer, and The Battle Hymn Of The Republic by Julia Ward Howe, sung by the Hart Male Voice Choir with the congregation joining in the chorus.
The choir sang the last prayer, God Be In My Head, and the service ended with a blessing.
Those attending included Lady Tindle, Owen Tindle, Jane Bay (Owen’s partner), Maisy Tindle (Sir Ray’s only grandchild), Judith Tindle, Philip Tindle, Linda Tindle, Jane Foxwell, Wendy Craig, Danny Cammiade, Scott Wood, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux, Farnham Town Mayor Cllr Alan Earwaker, David Newell OBE, Robert Stiby OBE, Tristram Jordan, James Keen, John Burley, Lynne Anderson NMA, Gary Cullum, Roland Agambar DMG Media representing Lord Rothermere, Geraldine Allinson, Joanna Parlby, Jeremy Spooner, Finbar Ronayne, John Robertson, Paul Larkin, Richard Tilbrook from the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Hunt MP, Dame Penelope Keith CBE DL, Elizabeth Buchanan CVO the former Private Secretary to King Charles III, Waverley Mayor Cllr John Ward, Gillian Ward, Penny Marriott, Peter Marriott, Jeremy Ricketts, Lucinda Fleming, Carole Cockburn, Farnham Town Clerk Iain Lynch, Cllr George Hesse, Yolande Hesse, Colin Christmas, Diane Christmas, John Brain, David Andrews, Sally Lloyd, Geoff Reeve, Andrew Lodge, Roger Smith, Philip and Emily Windsor Aubrey, David Collett, Fred Franklin, Robert Lewis, Tanya Lewis, Christopher and Lucy Linton Willoughby, Simon Pusey, Amanda Pusey, former Downing Street charity shop staff, current and former Tindle Radio and Tindle Newspapers staff from the Channel Islands, Wales, Devon, the Forest of Dean and the Isle of Man, and representatives from the Royal Automobile Club, Veteran Car Club, Farnham Weyside Rotary Club, Farnham Rotary Club, Lions Club, Hedgehogs, Farnham Society, Stationers & Newspaper Makers Company, Farnham Carnival Committee, Farnham Visitors Council, Farnham Maltings and Right At Home Carers.