St Bride's: News

Tom Aspell Memorial

Tom Aspell Memorial

Tom Aspell
7th December 1950 –
11th February 2013

Download Order of Service (pdf)

On Thursday 23rd May, at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Tim Aspell, foreign correspondent, was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.

The BIDDING PRAYER

The Venerable David Meara delivered the bidding:-

We gather here to honour the memory and celebrate the life of Tom Aspell, television news producer, foreign correspondent, and cameraman. He began his career on Visnews, reporting on the fall of Saigon in 1975, then joined CBS News as a cameraman covering Beirut, and after a short spell at ABC News spent the next 28 years working for NBC, as a foreign correspondent covering major events all around the world.

We remember today a man of warmth and humanity who was great company in the field, cool under fire, and who loved sharing stories at the end of the day. He was a proud family man, and he was a man of faith whose strong sense of God sustained him during his battle with lung cancer.

As we celebrate his life today and give thanks for the privilege of having know him, so we commend him to the Omnipotent and Holy God, trusting that at the end of our brief day is the eternity of God's love.


Amen.

ADDRESSES

Martin Fletcher

Read text...

Tom was a true man of the world. He lived a life in full, in the air as a pilot, at sea as a captain, on land as a loveable rogue.

Handsome, graceful, a bit battered sometimes, the phrase cool, calm and collected could have been made for him. He put himself through a lot, too much for his own good - and you know what I mean. But he emerged a wonderful man. From New Zealand to the UK, and pretty much everywhere in between, he knew war and peace. He crossed religions and cultures. A Christian who became a Muslim and lived many years in Israel. I think he'd appreciate this moment: A Jew talking about a Muslim in a church.

It sounds like the start of one of his many jokes. He was one of the funniest, smartest, best-read people I knew.

We go back a long way, Tom and I. We shared a desk at Visnews in 1970. We were junior scriptwriters. And I'm happy to see that our boss from those days, Andrew Ailes, is here today too. It was like an NBC training ground. Tom, me, Alan Harding, Derek Wilkinson, John Bartlett, Pete Wilson, Barry O'Brien, Jerry Lamprecht, we all worked together there and we worked together at NBC, for decades. I got in touch with quite a few of the guys who worked with Tom in the 1970's and asked them what they remembered about him. It's amazing how unanimous they were. The women all said: He was so handsome! The men all said: Have I got a story about Tom! But of course you can't repeat it.

But this wouldn't be a tribute to Tom if I didn't at least allude to the day he rode a motorbike through a hotel window, or when he set fire to a hotel room. He wasn't always an ideal hotel guest but Tom was always an ideal companion. He loved rugby, and all the fun that goes along with the sport. There was a wild side to Tom, that Rick Davis referred to in Jungian terms as his 'shadow self.'

There WAS a dark side to Tom - I always thought of him as the ultimate survivor - but anyone who knew him well knew that this was more than balanced by the light in him. He was the most loving family man; I remember his pride and happiness when his tall and handsome sons visited him in Israel. And his love for Nujud, who must be the quiet heroine in his life. Nujud, it is so wonderful that you are with us here today and that you can tell Peter and Gary how loved, admired and respected Tom was by so many of his peers.

Steve O'Neil, a gruff judge if ever there was one, calls Tom, "the nicest guy I ever met." I can add to that that in forty years, in a business that thrives on gossip and ill-will, I never heard Tom say a bad word about anyone.

Tom was a man of great experience, his colleagues trusted his judgement and many said that if Tom said it was OK to go somewhere, they would go too.

But he wasn't the fireman type, parachuting in. He LIVED in Vietnam. He lived in Beirut. He lived in Israel. He lived the stories and was not so much an expert, which to me suggests somebody who has learned a subject well and can talk about it, but he knew the subjects, because he experienced them.

You could say to Tom, you're on live TV in one minute, and he'd say, sure, no problem - what do you want me to talk about?

Tom's work was very important to him, but he separated it from his private life. In that sense, there were two Toms. Professional Tom and private Tom, and he jealously guarded both of them. He found the correct balance that eludes many of us.

Tom, Jeff Riggins and I spent hundreds of hours sailing catamarans at sea off Israel. We had two studios in our NBC office in Tel Aviv, studio A and studio B, but when NBC was upset that they couldn't find us, Tom said, what's the problem, we're in studio Sea.

Tom loved the sea and sailing. He loved the quiet, the time to contemplate, the calm of the water. It must have provided such a contrast, a balance, to his professional life which was spent mostly in one war zone after another.

The metaphor of the sea, and a man's belief in his maker, and our final journey, are summoned in this poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who seems to be contemplating his own death. It was suggested by Mike Taibbi, another sailor.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Mike Mosher reminds us that In Islam the most important thing the living can do for the dead is to pray for them. And so we pray for Tom, and remember him with great fondness.

Tom Brokaw read by M L Flynn

Read text...

Tom will be forever my idea of a grown up correspondent.

Suave, modest, droll, informed and always good company.

The late great Gordon manning liked to point out that even during dodgy days in Baghdad Tom always appeared with his shoe shined and his trousers pressed. Maybe Gordon noticed because he went through life as an unmade bed of a man.

Our Tom. He was always prepared.

I remember during the early days of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan tom made a harrowing overland trip through live fire territory and stopped occasionally to do a stand up with that bleak, foreboding landscape in the background. In cool, even tones he would describe the Shomali plain of Afghanistan and all that it had witnessed through history.

It was a one man course in how to be a foreign correspondent in a strange and hostile place.

He was such a presence for us in all those god-forsaken places I half expect to see him in the scenes from Indiana Jones or Lawrence of Arabia. But that would not be possible, of course.

Neither Harrison Ford nor Peter O'Toole would be want to compete on the screen with Aspell.

As we gather to remember this gifted and companionable colleague I can kind of see him, standing in the corner, a twinkle in his eye, taking it all in - and preparing to offer a few pithy one liners.

When we belly up to the bar later.

The roll call is getting longer now. Tony Wassermann, David Bloom, Derek Wilkinson, Tom. All our brothers.

Our lives, our good times and bad, the laughs and the late nights, all rolled into a vault of memories, to be cherished forever.

Drink up everyone, drink to this good man and his loving family.


READINGS

Michele Neubert read Psalm 121: v1-3, 5-8

Read text...

121 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Justin Balding read Thoughts on Tom by Gary and Peter, Tom’s sons

Read text...

Our father was everything to us. A great role model, a loving parent and an understanding friend. We could ask him anything about the world and he would always be ready with an intelligent answer. As a career man he was truly inspiring because his dedication and morals set the standard for us.

He taught us to drive when we were still in primary school, and to sail when we were teenagers. On the boat he was adventurous and happy like a king. He was great fun and did everything to make us happy. Flashing his white bum to passing by tourists' boats was one of the crazy things he did on boat to make us laugh.

Peter: "After I started university I loved that I could answer dad's questions about science, technology and medicine. I felt proud to be able to teach him something after all that he had taught me. He always had my back and never let me doubt myself. I am blessed because I had him in my life. To me, he will always be the greatest father who gave me everything."

Gary: "My father constantly reminded me that I was a fighter and that I could do anything I put my mind to. He taught me valuable life lessons about honesty, love, honor, self respect and respect of others. I hope one day to pass his morals and principles on to my children. His selflessness and courage helped keep me focused, mature and strong through his ordeal. He asked me not to worry about him but to always take care of myself and of my mother and brother."

Our father was a man of strength, knowledge, kindness and unconditional love. he has not left any of us. He is in a better place till one day we meet again... he will teach us more and we will learn more.

Sheikh Fawzi read Prayers of Peace from The Chapter of Dawn by Gary and Peter, Tom’s sons

Read text...

We seek refuge with God and we start In the name of Our Lord the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

''Verily those who say, "Our Lord is God," and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (at the time of their death) saying: "Fear not! Nor greave!", but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which you have been promised! "We have been your friends in this life and so in the Hereafter: therein you shall have all that your souls shall desire; and therein you shall have all that which you ask for! "A hospitable dwell from One Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!"

And who is better in speech than he who calls (men) to (the way of) God, works righteousness, and says, "I am of those who submit to the will of God?" (Chapter: 41, verse: 30-33)

''(To the righteous soul will be said:) "O (You) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! "Come back to you Lord, well pleased (yourself), and well-pleasing unto Him!" Enter you, then, among My honoured servants! "And enter you My Heaven!" (Chapter: 89, 27-30)

Verily God speaks the truth

O our Lord you are the guardian of the truthful and the faithful. O our God! Forgive him, have mercy on him, pardon him, be generous to him, cause his entrance to be to a wide and comfortable dwell, and protect him from the trial of the torment of the hereafter." As You are the Most Merciful, Most Forgiving'.

O our Lord the Omnipotent! Grant his family patience, and Do not put them to trial after him and make their scales of good deeds heavier (on the Day of Judgment."

O God the Omnipresent! Forgive our living, our dead, our young, our old, our males and our females, those of us who are present, and those who are absent. O God the Almighty! Whomsoever among us You keep to live, make him to live in submission to your will, and whomsoever You cause to die, let him die in faith. O God the Most Generous! Do not deprive us of our reward for (supplicating for) our deceased brother, and cause us not to go astray after him."

'O our Benevolent Creator! Grant us good in this life and good in the life to come, and save us from the torment of Hell Fire." Amen.

MUSIC

The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-

Sanctus from Requiem - Fauré

Turn! Turn! Turn - Seeger arr. Jones

Sailing - Cross arr. Jones

And I Saw A New Heaven - Bainton

Wild Horses - Jagger/Richards arr. Jones

Hymns:

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace

Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven

OBITUARIES & COMMENT

New Zealand Herald

blog comments powered by Disqus