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On Wednesday, 21st September, at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Sarah Corp, journalist and producer of Channel 4 News, was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.
The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the bidding:-
As we celebrate Sarah's life today, we give thanks for her outstanding contribution to the world of journalism and broadcasting. We remember a woman of immense intelligence, integrity, and wisdom; a woman whose dedication to her craft, to her colleagues, and to those whose stories needed to be told, was unsurpassed. A woman, known for her loyalty and commitment to those around her, who was loved and respected by all who knew her.
We remember, too, a woman who brought such warmth and light into the lives of others. A woman with a profound gift for friendship; with a wonderful sense of fun; a woman of beauty, elegance and charm. A woman who could turn her hand to anything. We remember her love of music, and the theatre; her love of books; her love of Iran. Above all, we remember a woman whose family was always at the very centre of her life: a loving and much loved wife, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, colleague and friend.
As we remember Sarah today, we give thanks for a life of character, a life of courage, and a life of compassion; and we rejoice that the world was a richer place for her presence within it; and our lives the richer for having known her.
Sarah would love to have been here. This is her sort of place, the music, the stonework, and above all - the people. Her husband Charles, her mother and father, John and Prue, sisters Ellie and Rachel; Her lifelong friends. Those of us she worked with for fifteen wonderful years. And her competitors. So many of whom were also her friends.
Sarah always seemed at ease with both life and people. Her work life balance was enviable. Imagine this! The last time we were in Iran together, two years ago, we were under arrest in a police station in down town Tehran - only for three hours this time - and she fell to discussing Herbert Howells and his Collegium Regale, arguing with me as to whether his Magnificat is, or is not, the finest by any twenty century English composer.
Sarah was born and brought up in Blackheath. The house was full of music. She herself learned the Trumpet, the piano, and most particularly, the Cello. She sang too. She won a scholarship to James Allen School in Dulwich. Music remained a big part of her life when she got to Cambridge.
It certainly wasn’t music that brought her to ITN in 1998 – rather it was her endless fascination with people and places.
She slotted into our Washington Bureau in 2000, as if the she had been born there.
Thereafter I count at least forty countries in which she worked with and for us. She travelled to many of them on multiple missions. She and I travelled to Iran together at least ten times – They were trips upon which no amount of paranoia and fear could match her understanding and love for the utter beauty of the country its people and its culture.
But I think it was 9/11 that defined Sarah’s vastly productive life with us on Channel 4 news. The events that followed were to take her to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to Iraq – and, ultimately, to Libya. In each she understood the enormity of the intervention, and the consequent devastating human cost. These were unspeakably dangerous theatres of war - but her judgement as to when and where we could tread was second to none. In part this was because in every one of these places she assembled a cast of drivers, security people, and fixers, who somehow became, for us all, our family, our best of friends. She was a brilliant ad hoc team builder.
She shared in the excitement and hope of the Arab Spring - travelling to wherever it erupted. From downtown Tunis to Egypt’s Tharir Square; From Damascus to Tripoli.
She managed our absurdly ambitious News from Africa, in which a whole programme came from the floodlit Ugandan village on the Nile where I’d once taught on VSO. She fixed News from India which required transmitting from a different city every night, with nocturnal sleepless train journeys between each. And news from Brazil – which even included a mad dash to transmit from the Amazon rain forest - and Sarah somehow persuading then President Lula to fly into Menaus in order for us to interview him.
There is not a day when our need for her intellect, her reasoning, and her ‘joix de vive’, does not cross our minds.
Indeed I have not yet ventured to Iran without her - she knew its ways so well, and so many of the key people.
Wherever we travelled she would always have this vast black rucksack on her shoulders - crammed with every known plug, wire, Charger, and mobile device known to humankind. Crammed too with notes, contacts and her precious information packed lap top.
She was good at black. One day we were at the Holiest Shia shrine in Iran’s holy City of Qom. She was prepared…the black chador, the black Hejab - leaving only her pale face peeping out - suddenly as we entered the gateway into the mosque a ferocious gust of wind seemed to capture her entire rig - suddenly twenty feet away, there was the Hejab blowing about the courtyard of the mosque the - the chador not far behind. I threw my anorak over her head and dashed for the disappearing black fabric - it was both potentially terrifyingly religiously offensive and ridiculously funny. And what were this reporter and cameraman doing to this poor woman as they wound her back into her daunting garb.
A few weeks before she died, I drove down too her home in Dulwich and took her out to the Picture Gallery to see the wonderful water colours of Eric Revilious – We both knew of him but had never see his work in the flesh. We were lost in his gorgeous landscapes, hay ricks, fields full of stooks, white horses, and passing trains….we were a million miles from her illness. We had lunch in the early spring sunshine on the lawn talking about the use of light in painting.
I miss her. Miss her music, her laughter, her brains, her contacts, and, above all, her being with us. But we were so lucky to share those years with her. She lived a happy and fulfilled life, she found Charles to complete her circle.
In the time allotted to her, she could not have achieved more.
We were all very, very lucky that she came amongst us… and desperately unlucky that she could not stay longer.
Ray Queally & Philippa Collins
In the two condolence books we've had in the office, there are lots of stories of Sarah's goodness.
Of how she has helped and inspired people, of how she has made things happen.
She touched so many people with her kindness, warmth and humour.
There is ONE story, that for me, encapsulates all that was good about Sarah.
In August 2014, correspondent Jonathan Rugman, Sarah and I went to Northern Iraq to cover the story of the Yazidis fleeing Islamic State.
Our first priority was to get up to Sinjar mountain on an aid flight.
Sarah - of course - sorted it out and before long, we were waiting on the tarmac at the Kurdish military base.
While we were hanging around in the 45 degree heat, I can remember Sarah inspecting the helicopter.
When I asked what she was doing she said with a smile she was looking for 'bits missing'. That's how thorough she was. although quite what she'd have done about it neither of us knew.
We chatted to waiting journalists who were hoping to get on the next flight, including Alissa Rubin from the New York Times and her Iraqi fixer.
Before we took off , Sarah - who had to remain behind because space was limited - thrust an emergency bag into Jonathan's hands containing a satellite phone and medical pack.
We hadn't thought of that. She had.
The plan was just to drop aid but the pilot decided to land and rescue as many of the stranded refugees as he could. The flight back was quite hairy but we made it back in one piece.
The next day, the same helicopter with the same pilot - this time with Alissa on board - crashed.
The pilot who had wanted so much to help the Yazidis, was killed.
Alissa was in a bad way, with a head injury and broken wrists. Her fixer, who had not been aboard, called the most competent person he could think of to help - Sarah. She didn't hesitate.
During that long night at the hospital she stayed by Alissa's side, reassuring her, making sure that Alissa got the best possible medical care. There was a lot going on, at one point a delegation of local dignitaries arrived to pay their respects. Alissa was in no state for visitors and Sarah politely but firmly dealt with them and later organised her medical evacuation out of the country.
And after all that, without any sleep, the next morning she returned to her day job - producing that nights' report for Channel 4 News.
I'm pleased to say that Alissa, who has made a good recovery, has joined us here today.
Sarah touched so many lives and made such a difference to people in her life. I, for one, am just incredibly lucky to have known her.
Jonathan Miller read 1 Corinthians 13
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
John Corp read On Children by Kahil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Saeed Kamali Dehghan read Friend by Sohrab Sepehri, translated by Ismail Salami
She was great
And belonged to the present time
And had affinity with all bright horizons.
And fathomed the language of the earth and water.
Sounded like the sad tone of truth.
To the heartbeats of elements.
The generous air.
And she directed kindness
Towards our hearts.
She was the image of her solitude.
And for the mirror she interpreted
The most amorous moments of her own Time.
Like rain, she was full of fresh repetitions.
And like the trees
She grew with the blessing of light.
She called out the wind's childhood.
And tied the strings of words
To the latch of water.
And one night she enunciated
The Green Message of Love
That we touched the emotion of the earth
And felt fresh like a bucket of murmuring water.
Again and again we saw her
Basket in hand
Going to pluck a cluster of glad tidings.
She failed to sit in full view of the pigeons
And walked to the brink of Nil
And stretched out beyond the patient Lights.
And she did not mind at all
How lonely we would feel
To eat apples
At the intervals of the distressing closing of doors!
The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills (Psalm 121) from Requiem - Herbert Howells
O Magnum Mysterium - Francis Poulenc
Locus Iste - Anton Bruckner
I was glad - C Hubert H Parry (St Bride's Choir joined by Fever Pitch)
Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven
Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind
He Who Would Valiant Be