Bushey community joined by worldwide fans for George Michael Memorial Service
Pop musician George Michael, originally from Bushey, died suddenly on Christmas Day, 2016. Fr Neil Kelley, Rector of Bushey, heard the news when he was walking his dog on Christmas afternoon and saw messages appearing on Facebook. They all expressed shock and a need for somewhere to go and some means of expressing grief.
His response was swift. He posted a message saying ‘St James will be open for you. Come.’
On Boxing Day and the days following scores of people visited St. James’s Church, Bushey to light candles, pray and ponder, and share their common grief at this premature death. George went to school in Bushey and so many people who knew him and his family from his school days were particularly saddened.
A local resident and fan, Tracey Willis, formed The George Michael Appreciation Society of Bushey to keep George’s memory and music alive and in conversation with Fr Neil, the idea of a memorial service for fans to express their grief was born.
Over three hundred and twenty attended the service on 30th April, including some from Spain, Switzerland and Malta. There was a large local contingent who still had personal memories of George as well as knowledge of his music.
Fr Neil said:
“This service was an occasion for everyone to come together to remember the person he was. The Church of England is there to welcome all people in times of joy or grief to help them express and understand their emotions and to give thanks.”
In his appreciation, he spoke of George Michael’s music and his charitable acts, many unsung until after his death, saying
“we will never know how many lives he impacted” and he ended reflecting on how, having given more of himself to others than to himself, he hoped George was now receiving the eternal tender loving care of God.”