One year since Covid cancelled my father's funeral

One year ago Bedfordshire broadcaster Anne Atkins was getting ready to say goodbye to her father.

Anne's father David Briggs, 102, was the head of King's College School in Cambridge, and the last surviving surviving chorister who sang in the first BBC broadcast of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s in 1928.

David Briggs at King's College Credit: Serena Atkins

He died on the 16th of March 2020, the same day that health Secretary Matt Hancock told the UK to cease all social contact.

Anne was forced to cancel her father's funeral. It was particularly poignant as she had arranged, with her son Ben, for a choral anthem to be performed in his honour - something Anne says he would have been proud of because his father, GW Briggs, was also a well known hymnist.

So Ben and Anne did something which now seems all too familiar. They put it online.

Anne said: "We had the mailing list from my father's 100th birthday party when we had 100 people in the garden, and he just put out this message - if you've got time tonight to record your voice or instrument do it and send it to me."

Dozens contributed to the recording Credit: Anne Atkins/Youtube

Dozens of people contributed to the remote recording of the anthem, which has now be seen more than 30,000 times.

The lyrics have also people featured in a poetry anthology, on a television documentary, and Ben received a commendation in the Royal Philharmonic Inspiration Awards.

Families have also contacted Anne and Ben to ask if they could use the music at their own family funerals during the pandemic.

The sheet music and lyrics are published this month.