Most village people, if not all, will have heard of the death of Paul Eddington (alias Jim Hacker of Yes, Prime Minister fame) on November 4th, after a long and debilitating illness, bravely borne with tremendous courage.
What you may not know is that he was a Quaker and was a pupil at Sibford School during the ’39 – ’45 war. I recently met a New Zealander visiting the Meeting house, who was a fellow pupil and had lively memories of their schooldays together. Despite his busy acting life, Paul Eddington took a continuing interest in the school, its progress and activities.
Although radical in his convictions, he was a gentle, peace-loving man who found spiritual peace in the quiet Quaker form of worship and fully supported the Society’s stand against all war. Apparently one of his few criticisms of the TV scripts was when one poked fun at the Nuclear free zones that various local councils established throughout Britain in the sixties and seventies; he also refused to smoke when scripted to do so in the part. This was long before the present outcry against smoking and other harmful drugs.
Some of you may have seen him recently as Justice Shallow in the BBC’s production of Shakespeare’s Henry the fourth, where he played his part convincingly and with great fortitude. I’m sure that he also played his role in real life with similar courage. Had he been Britain’s real Prime Minister, I feel sure he’d have cut a very different figure from his TV image, and would have striven for true social justice and an end to the greed-ridden policies which afflict our divided country.