Tony Harding Funeral Eulogy – by his son Lawrence

Reflections from a Son on his dear Father, Antony John Harding (9th Jan 1933- 27th Dec 2021) “ Tony” or “AJH” 

I could of course speak the whole day, and more, about him. There is so much to talk about. What’d I like to do however is to talk about the wonder and the joy of being a true “ Everyman” He was so full of life and spirit, at his prime- which lasted many years, in its pomp, in its essence and in its being. As is well known, and is such well represented here at this service today by some of the young minds he formed and lives he touched, as a Teacher and as a Mentor- and in so many cases their futures that he remained passionately linked to, involved with, and interested in- his “beating heart” was always about taking potential, whomsoever that might be as long as they were interested, and having the pleasure and fulfilment of seeing that potential flourish into a fully formed reality. The most wonderful gift that he, together with dear Mum, Nancy, bestowed on me their only child, was the confdence and ability to not just communicate with, but feel people from different voices from different lands, from different socio-economic backgrounds, “princes and paupers”, you name it! This was because my Father had this gift in abundance to hand down, a beautiful contrast in his persona, which provided him with a great depth of character. He was the person of authority of course, the teacher, the mentor… but he was at times quietly, then at certain times, quite outspokenly ”anti- authoritarian” (with Mum not being a “shrinking violet” in this department either!) This was seen particularly in the support of an underdog, especially if he felt that individual had beengiven the “thin end of the wedge”. This could move him very passionately in the defence of said person or ideal. He was stubborn – yet flexible, appeasing and accepting when the “chips were down”, as for example there have been several times in my life. He was as strong as they were- and yet he was vulnerable. I personally got to understand over the years and by watching and learning from him that to be one of these, you had to be the other too! He was a man of intense conviction… but equally a man of compassion and of faith. And as a quintessentially Man of Letters and the Arts, which outside of his family was his unabiding passion and interest, he was a hopeless romantic, and always encouraged the people he cared for to follow their dreams. But more than anything: he was a kind and generous man with everything he had, but most importantly his time…… So when thinking all this through, for these few words can never do justice to describe the reflections of this Son for this particular Father, with all the vast amounts of literature- including his own work- I could have used, I was drawn to an old poem by Rudyard Kipling, that I keenly remember him carrying to me at a young age, that would sum up so much of what I have tried to describe here before.Here is Kipling’s poem “IF”

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:


If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!