Eynsham has had its fair share of charismatic characters who add a special spark to village life and none more so than the late Keith Green. Helen Peacocke reports.
The fourth generation to run Greens Funeral Services, Keith died on 15 January aged 72, after a long and debilitating illness. He left his wife Tricia, children Annie and Ian, sister Rosemary and grandchildren Alana, Oscar and Senna.
As a Freemason and the first foreman of Eynsham Morris when they got back together in 1979, he was a popular and active member of the community. Without Keith, the Morris would not be what it is today and we certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed a decorated tree in the Square every Christmas for the past 20 years. He made things happen. He also made us smile. Who but Keith would have turned up dressed as a chimney sweep, to hand a piece of lucky coal to Katie Chapman on her wedding day? And who else could have created comic floats on topical themes for the Carnival parade - 21 years in a row? The last float he built with his friend Stan Launchbury was a rockers’ reunion tour, complete with oxygen cylinder, zimmer frames and an ambulance to tow them, so they called it their swansong.
Along with the Morris, his great loves were cricket and scouting. Between fund-raising and building the Cricket Pavilion, Bosses Night with the Scouts and “shouts” with the Fire Service, he never seemed to sit down.
His funeral couldn’t possibly have been a quiet, formal affair - and it wasn’t. It was the celebration of a man with a lilt in his voice and a twinkle in his eye, who had added sunshine and laughter to the village all his life.
At Keith’s request the hearse took a gentle tour of the village, with a final call at the Queen's Head for the Morris men who then escorted it to the church where around 400 people were waiting.
He also organised the music to be played as the coffin was carried into church, choosing the catchy tune Auntie Mary had a Canary. Obviously that made everybody smile, particularly those who knew all the words. Those who didn’t smiled anyway, because Keith Green was a special sort of man and no one expected anything ordinary from him.