“Old Harry” celebrated at funeral

Harry Mousdell's funeral took place in Rusper on Frday September 21, 2012
Harry Mousdell's funeral took place in Rusper on Frday September 21, 2012

Rusper was brought to a standstill on Friday afternoon as members of the Sussex folk world gathered en mass to bid a fond farewell to one of their best loved figures.

“Old Harry” Mousdell was known far and wide for his love of and enthusiasm for English folklore, song and dance, and as an active member of folk clubs and song groups has shared his extensive repertoire of songs with audiences for over 50 years, ensuring that they will continue to be sung for generations to come.

As well as being a popular barn dance caller, able to entice even the complete novice onto the floor to join in, Harry was an experienced morris dancer.

Having danced with Chanctonbury Ring Morris Men in the 1960’s Harry was instrumental in founding Horsham’s Broadwood Men, who celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, and was an active member to the end, playing the concertina for them to dance when they recently visited him at St Catherine’s Hospice, where he later died.

In a coffin lovingly decorated by his daughter-in-law, to celebrate Harry’s life long loves of cycling, camping, singing and dancing amongst the rolling hills of England, Harry was carried into the church by fellow Broadwood Men, through an arch of garlands of Horsham’s Magog ladies, behind a troop of assorted folk musicians.

The service, led by Harry’s friend Rev Nick Flint, was a Sussex themed and joyous celebration of a happy life well lived.

The packed church was filled with music and laughter as the congregation of family and friends was treated to tributes in prose, song and dance.

Alongside tales of “Old Harry” there were performances by both Sun Oak Clog dancers and the Broadwood Men, filling the church’s tiny aisle, and songs made popular by Harry over the years were sung by local musician and composer Dave Toye and internationally popular Martyn Wyndham-Read.

Harry was carried finally from the church to a rousing rendition of Sussex by the Sea, followed by dancing in the church yard and singing well into the evening.

This was a fitting farewell to a man who, in the words of one of his favourite songs, will be, for the folk lovers of Sussex, always “remembered for what he has done”.

[Words and picture contributed by Julia McCarthy-Fox - send Your News to ct.news@sussexnewspapers.co.uk]