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'Hammy', by Philip Porter

Adrian Hamilton Le Mans car

On November 11th, a very large collection of family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of Adrian Hamilton, known to many of us simply as 'Hammy'. And what a celebration it was. To say it was 'different' is an understatement. To say it was 'great fun' is spot on, and reflected entirely his character.

For a start, it was not held in some modest parish church. No, it took place in Winchester Cathedral, no less. Suitably capacious, as well as architecturally magnificent, one mutual friend did some totting up and reckoned there were close to 1,000 people present. It's a crude form of measurement but, my goodness, that illustrates the esteem and affection in which 'Hammy' was held.

I knew his father Duncan who of course won Le Mans in 1953 with his 'partner in crime' Tony Rolt. Digressing a moment, I thoroughly recommend Duncan's hilarious autobiography Touch Wood, which 'Hammy' had updated and republished some years ago.

Adrian Hamilton life celebration

This Memorial Service was a celebration like no other. The Order of Service had on its cover a photo of 'Hammy' sitting in the Le Mans-winning C-type, wearing a traffic cone on his head!

Proceedings included a reading by eldest son Dominic and this was followed by a most apposite extract from Toad of Toad Hall, read by Sir Paul Vestey. 'Hammy' was very much Toad, and vice versa!

To maintain the mood of lightness, PV's reading was followed by a rendition of Yesterday Man, the 1965 hit record by Chris Andrews (who wrote many of Sandie Shaw's songs). It reached No. 3 in the UK charts and No. 1 in Ireland, New Zealand, Germany and Austria. I'll wager you didn't know that!

The Eulogy was given by Stuart Rolt, Tony's son. Their families were very close and they used to holiday together when children so Stuart was able to give a very personal, and amusing, insight into Adrian's early life. 

After Land of Hope and Glory, the musicians, known as Perfect Pitch Music, played Let's Go Fly A Kite, from Mary Poppins, sung with gusto by Willie Tuckett. The senior member of the clergy conducting proceedings offered his opinion that this was undoubtedly a first in the 900-year history of this august cathedral!

The final hymn was Jerusalem and we all processed out of this wonderful cathedral to Enjoy Yourself performed by Jools Holland, another great motoring enthusiast.

Some 300 of us repaired to Duncan Hamilton ROFGO a few miles away. Among the distinguished company was the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Valentine Lindsay gave a most amusing speech in which he stated that he and 'Hammy' called each other 'brother'. He spoke of the occasion when the two of them went abroad to a health farm to lose weight. It was unheard of for this establishment but 'Hammy' actually put on weight!

This was a very special celebration for a very special man, a giant both physically and figuratively. Of one thing, there was no question: 'Hammy' would have thoroughly approved.  

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