Jan’s Funeral

Jan’s funeral took place on 30th July 2018 at the Basingstoke Crematorium. Download the Order of Service.

Full transcript of the service

Entry Music:  Beethoven, Brendel VPO Rattle, Piano Concerto 5, Emperor (2nd mvt)

Welcome and Opening Words

Good afternoon, my name is Helen and on behalf of the family, I would like to welcome everyone here today as we unite in love and friendship, to celebrate, to honour and to pay tribute to Joyce Muriel May Harding, who we fondly know as Jan.  To give thanks for everything that she meant to us and to say goodbye now that our time with her is over.

Jan passed away peacefully on Tuesday, 10th July 2018, in Pemberley House Care Home, knowing that she was loved and cherished.  She was 93 years old.

We give thanks for the longevity of Jan’s life, and our love and our thoughts go out to all who are hurting by her death.

Whilst we think of Jan’s passing with sadness and with regret, we should recall her life with happiness and with respect.

Hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful(4 verses, organ)

A Celebration of Jan’s Life ~ Eulogy

Joyce Muriel May was born in Bexley Heath on the 10th May 1925 to Frances and William Ansell.  She lived with her parents and siblings Gwen, Norman and Beryl, in Bromley where she grew up.

A very bright child and extremely academic, Joyce gained a scholarship to attend Bromley High School for Girls, and then the Royal Holloway College to read Physics and Chemistry.  It was whilst at the Royal Holloway that she became known as Jan, taking letters from her first and last name as she was one of three Joyce’s with similar surnames.  The war meant degrees were limited to two years, so Jan graduated in 1945 before qualifying as a teacher.

Moving up to Derbyshire, Jan began her teaching career at St. Elphin’s Private Girl’s School in Matlock, then back to London to Blackheath Girls School.  Moving to a co-educational school in Brent, Jan joined Preston Manor School.  It was here that she met fellow teacher Arthur Harding, and they began a courtship.

Jan and Arthur were married in December 1958, setting up home in a flat in Wembley.  In 1959 their daughter Fae was born, followed by son Andy in 1962 when the family moved to a larger home in Kingsbury.  Jan took a seven year break from full time teaching whilst the children were young, but agreed to undertake some part time work on the condition that she could teach – her way.  She asked the girls to keep a diary recording their interests and concerns, then based her teaching on these findings – a technique which at the time was revolutionary.

Jan moved from Preston Manor to Trent Park Teacher Training College, and began developing the next generation of science teachers.  Working full time and whilst raising a young family, Jan was one of the first students on the newly created masters’ degree in science education at the Centre for Science Education at Chelsea College.  Of the 15 students on the course only two achieved a distinction: Mary Waring and Jan. Both ended up on the staff there by 1977 and became great friends, subsequently gaining their doctorates.

In addition to teaching her PGCE course, Jan continued her research into the reasons why so few girls chose to take science subjects and became a pioneer in the area of Gender and Science Education. Invitations to travel all over the world followed, with Jan attended conferences and meetings, spreading her expertise.  In 1983, the BBC2 Horizon programme “What Little Girls Are Made Of” was entirely devoted to her work.  A founder member of Girls (subsequently Gender) and Science and Technology, Jan was President of Division X of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, making “Women and Science” the theme for their annual conference.  Jan later edited a book based on the conference papers.  Involved in many areas, Jan was on committees and lectured at numerous worldwide events.  She was invited to give a paper for the World Conference on Women, held in Nairobi.  She was involved with the WISE initiative in the collaboration between the Engineering Council and the Equal Opportunities Commission to make 1984 a WISE year.  As well as her work in the UK, Jan travelled worldwide including a two month trip to Australia – which led her to making five more visits there over the next ten years.

“Retiring” from full time work in 1986, Jan and Arthur wanted to move out of London.  When discussing a potential place to live, they drew up a list – it must be a smallish town with a church for bell ringing, near to a steam railway and somewhere nice to walk their labrador, but must be within easy reach of London.  The following year, Jan and Arthur moved down to Alresford which fitted the bill perfectly.  It was also nearby to son Andy and daughter-in-law Wendy who had previously moved to Hampshire while Fae and husband Tony eventually settled in Norfolk. 

Jan’s diary continued to be full as she established herself as a consultant in equal opportunities, with Arthur acting as her PA, typing papers and assembling her presentation materials.  Jan served on the Executive and Educational Committees of the Fawcett Society and continued to chair meetings, taking the train regularly into London.  A constant stream of visitors to Alresford came to seek her advice and guidance, many referencing her work in theirs.

Jan and Arthur very much integrated into their new life in Hampshire, making friends locally, joining the History and Literary Society and the Horticultural Society (organising several trips for the group) while Jan actively contributed to the Winchester Soroptimists.  There were lots of local places to walk her beloved Labradors – Cleo, Storm and then Benji.  Jan really felt part of the community, actively campaigning on many local issues. 

The family grew with the arrival of first granddaughter, Fiona, in 1988, followed by Alasdair, Beth and Adam.  Jan adored her role as Grandma and family was extremely important to her.  Jan was always asking about her grandchildren, sending them birthday presents and Christmas cards.  Always carefully treating them equally.  Jan was delighted when they visited, hearing all about what they were up to, spending time with them. 

Tragedy struck the family in April 2000, when Arthur died.  Her daughter Fae was also extremely unwell, the following July she too sadly passed away.  It was a hugely painful time for Jan, but she reorganised her life and decided to downsize.  Remaining in Arlesford, Jan bought a bungalow, designing the refurbishment and landscaping of the garden herself.  In 2003, Jan moved into her new home.  She loved to spend time in the garden, preferring foliage and shrubs, and grew her own vegetables.  When visiting Andy and Wendy, she would help to weed their garden.

Jan became Great Grandma in 2013 when Beth had Toby.  Jan was enormously supportive, encouraging Beth to continue with her education.  Second great-grandson Connor arrived in 2016, and last but not least, Ellis was born on Jan’s birthday this year.  She was so very proud to be a Great-Grandma.

Towards the end of 2014 family and close friends, and Jan herself, became aware that she was having problems with her memory. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s followed in April 2015.  Supported by her family and carers, Jan remained living independently at home for another two years until in April 2017 her beloved Labrador Benji passed away.  That seemed to trigger another downward step in the disease and in early June she fell twice in seven days, the second time hitting her head quite badly.  After spending a week in Winchester Hospital, the decision was made for Jan to go and live at Pemberley House Care Home in Basingstoke where she could receive the specialist care that she now required and could be close to Andy and Wendy.

Settling in quickly, staff said that Jan was the life and soul of the day room.  Brightly waving at other residents as they walked by, Jan made friends, joining them with social activities.  On her birthday this year, Wendy went to visit and found her mother-in-law engrossed in a game of bingo! 

A week later, Jan fell breaking her hip and was hospitalised for another week.  Enjoying a visit from Gwen and Maggie, Jan delighted in singing “two little Japanese girls” with her sister!  They spent time reminiscing and had a lovely time together.  Jan returned to Pemberley House but her health began to decline.  Just eight weeks later, Jan passed away peacefully in her sleep.  She was 93.

Loving and kind, family were extremely important to Jan.  Her work was also exceptionally important.  Jan inspired many, and made a real difference in her field, often going out of her way to help others.  She was known for her passion, focus and dedication.   As one of her friends said, if Jan saw something that needed to be changed, she would set about changing it. An extremely intelligent woman who demonstrated total commitment to her beliefs, who led by example and who commanded respect from all who were fortunate enough to have known her.  Jan cared passionately, not just about family, but diversity, social justice, the environment and the world.  She will be deeply missed.

Andy will now step forward with a tribute to Jan

My relationship with Jan – Mutual Love, Care and Support

Andy Harding

It wasn’t the norm in the early 1960s for a mother with two young children to resume a career.

Not only did Jan do that, but she developed that career first with her Masters and then Doctorate at Chelsea College, all while continuing to bring up her family and supporting her own mother who had come to live next door to us in North West London in the early 70s.

Mimi later moved with my parents to Alresford and lived with then until her death in 1991.

I was aware that my mum was different from those of my classmates – no one else had their mother come into the school to conduct a science lesson on the school field measuring and comparing our lung capacities!

Life at home was busy but happy – weekends followed a structured plan, with roasts both days, I think so that we could live the rest of the week on cold meat and salad, which my father, who worked closer to home and got home first, could easily prepare. My father also did the majority of the taxiing for Fae and me to and from our various activities – swimming, cubs, guides and choirs.

Having parents working in education meant that the holidays were a real family time – often at my father’s parents by the sea in Bognor, or long trips in the summer to “the continent”.

When Jan started driving to Chelsea every day she conveniently passed my school in White City, so could take me in. That time in the car each day provided us with our 1:1 time…not always appreciated by me when receiving a “lecture”…but invaluable as I approached my O Level Chemistry exam as it became a daily revision lesson!

Then the half-term following my 17th birthday our journey turned into a driving lesson – sitting next to a learner driver through the London rush hour took some nerve, believe me.

Throughout our childhood our parents treated my sister and me with fairness and equality – always making sure we were able to take advantage of every opportunity that presented itself. For me that meant being able to sing and act in various performances in London and across the country – the logistics for which must have been a nightmare.

My parents support for us continued through university and then helping Wendy and me buy our first house – Fae and Tony had got married the year before us, so we were offered the same amount but with the choice of funding our wedding or paying the deposit on a house…we chose the latter and relied on friends and relatives to achieve a DIY wedding.

Jan continued to help us financially when the need or opportunity arose – such as when we decided to extend our house. And when our daughter Beth, with Toby aged just six months, headed to Aberdeen to take up her place at University, Jan offered to pay Toby’s nursery fees so that she should not miss out.

Jan absolutely loved living in Alresford – walking the dog, meeting with her many friends and neighbours, while just driving up Broad Street when I took her home from Basingstoke often resulted in a comment.

She enjoyed her holidays too – sometimes accompanied by a friend, her sister Gwen or her niece Jane, or sometimes on her own. One such adventure to Vienna was inspired by newsreader John Suchet’s book on Beethoven (who was by far Jan’s favourite composer). She visited many of the places described in the book, and kept a diary/scrap book similar to those she had encouraged us to keep on our family holidays.

Her love for classical music was well known, and she enjoyed many of the concerts at the Anvil – buying a ticket for a companion in return for taking her there.

There comes a time when you realise you are doing something for your parents not just to share the work but because they are no longer able to. For me it was digging out a tree in the front garden in their house in Alresford.

Then came the computer: Arthur had acted as Jan’s PA for many years, typing letters, papers, presentation materials and dealing with all the emails – but when he passed away in 2000 Jan felt she had not only lost her husband but also the link with her many friends nationally and internationally. So at the age of 75 having never used a typewriter keyboard I set up an early speech recognition system and she dictated everything. With a lot of frustration and determination she did remarkably well – although the family will remember many an early evening when the phone rang and “it’s Grandma, she’s got a problem with the computer!”. Jan continued to use the computer until November 2014 when quite suddenly she sent her last email. That was one of the first signs that her memory problem was more than just forgetfulness.

In early 2015 we persuaded Jan to consult her GP – accompanying a parent to such an appointment is another turning point your in your relationship. Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s followed – and while Jan read the letter I don’t think she ever grasped it – or in reality could remember it.

But Jan was determined to continue living independently – and so we gradually increased the support we and others were providing to help her to live at home with her beloved Benji. Carers visited once and then twice a day, while we shopped for her on a Saturday morning and refreshed the supplies, with Adam and Ruth filling in for us to be able to take a holiday. Wendy and I triggered the lasting power of attorney that Jan had wisely put in place and we took care of maintaining the house and financial affairs.

Meanwhile Jan’s Labrador, Benji, at the age of 14 and suffering with Arthritis, was taking eight tablets a day – we had a system and process for that too. Sadly in March 2017 Benji’s legs gave up and we were faced with the difficult decision with the vet to put him to sleep. Jan missed his company terribly, but getting another dog at that stage was not an option.

Benji‘s loss triggered another downward step in Jan’s condition, which led to the falls she had at home in early June. The difficult decision to move Jan to residential care was one I had never wanted to face, but was in the end made for us.

When visiting Jan we would invariably find her in the day room, interacting with the staff or other residents, always showing concern for others’ wellbeing. There was always a huge smile and welcome for us. She came over to our home last summer to see Beth, Tom, Toby and Connor, but sadly never met Ellis who was born this year on her birthday in May.

As Jan was now spending all her time in her room I bought a small music system with its own speaker and loaded it with the complete Beethoven symphonies. I took it in to her at lunchtime on the 10th July, and put it on while I sat holding her hand, then left it playing the Eroica when I left to return to work. Jan passed away a few hours later, and when Wendy and I returned in the evening it was still playing quietly in the background.

We are grateful to the whole team at Pemberley House who have cared for Jan with such love and respect over the last year. I know they miss her too.

So if I can sum up our relationship – it really was one of mutual care, love and support. Jan I thank you for being a wonderful mother to me, sister, and grandmother and great grandmother to the next generations. I hope we have been able to give you back our love and support in return. We will all miss you very much.

We are now going to hear from Jan’s Grandson Adam, who will read Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep

Poem:  Do Not Stand at my Grave and Weep by Mary Elizabeth Fry, read by Adam

Do not stand at my grave and weep 
I am not there. I do not sleep. 
I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glints on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain. 
When you awaken in the morning’s hush 
I am the swift uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circled flight. 
I am the soft stars that shine at night. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry; 
I am not there. I did not die.


You will all have your own memories of the time you have spent with Jan and the path you walked together.  We are now going to pause for a moment of personal reflection to give each of you the chance to remember her in your own way, and to say goodbye in your own words.  Some of you may wish to say a silent prayer for her, so that all your love, your thoughts and your prayers can go with Jan to her final resting place.

As we think of Jan and all that she meant to us, we are going to listen to the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata number 8, popularly known as Pathetique.

Reflection Music: Piano Sonata Op13 No8 Pathetique (2nd mvt)

Prayer for Jan

Let us pray

Grant us, Lord God, a vision of your world as your love would have it:
a world where nobody is disadvantaged, and all have an equal opportunity;
a world where the riches of creation are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
a world where different races and cultures live in harmony and mutual respect;
a world where diversity is celebrated and prejudice does not exist;
a world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
Give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

We now come to the time in our service where we have to say our final farewell to Jan.  The curtains will remain open for The Committal.

Please remember that this is only Jan’s body which we are committing here today, not her personality, not her soul or spirit which will remain alive forever in your hearts and minds. 

Farewell and Committal

Can you please stand for The Committal

We have been remembering with affection and gratitude the life of Jan and recalling what an inspirational, intelligent, loving, happy, compassionate and good person that she has been.

In sorrow, but with deep love and affection we now commit Jan’s body to be cremated.

Jan, we are glad you lived. We cherish the memories of your words, your deeds and your character.  We cherish your friendship. We cherish your commitment to equality and diversity, social justice, the environment and the world.  Most of all we cherish your love.  If we can learn from your experience, and profit from your example, perhaps we can live better lives for having known you. 

We are grateful for the long life that you lived, the love and care you showed and for all that your life meant to us.  Your legacy will continue and your memory will be passed on to generations to come.  Your spirit, your enthusiasm, your sense of fun and your kindness will be remembered always.

Jan, may you rest without pain in the knowledge that you are loved and missed by all whose lives you touched, and may you rest in peace.

Please be seated

Closing Words

We have been remembering Jan today with love, with respect and with thanks for a life well lived.  Jan will live on in the memories that you shared and the love in your hearts.

There can be no greater legacy for Jan to have left, than you have learned from her experience, have profited from her example and have had your lives enriched by her presence. 

Everyone is welcome to join the family after the service at The Wheatsheaf in North Waltham, to share fond memories and celebrate Jan’s life.

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Jan, the chosen charity is the Alzheimer’s Society.  Donations may be left on exit or sent via Spencer & Peyton Funeral Directors.

We now leave the memory of Jan in peace, with enduring love and respect we bid her farewell.  May you find richness and example in your memories of Jan.  May you find strength and support in your love for one and other and may you find peace in your hearts.

Jan loved music, singing and dancing at every opportunity.  On the way into chapel today we heard the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 5.

As a final tribute to Jan, we are going to play her out to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s First Symphony 1.

Exit Music:  Beethoven, Symphony 1 in C Op21 (4th mvt Adagio – Allegro Molto E Vivace)