Rufus Waterlow

2nd April 1976 - 11th August 2021

On Thursday 23rd September 2021 at 11:30am a service of thanksgiving for the life of Rufus Dudley Robinson Waterlow was held at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street.

Download Order of Service (pdf)


The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the opening:

A very warm welcome to St Bride’s.

I suspect that all of us here today are still trying to come to terms with the devastating news of Rufus’s sudden and untimely death.  The loss of a man of such character, energy, and kindness, who still had so much more to live for and so much more to give, is hard to bear.

In the beautiful and complex tapestry of life, a terrible and gaping hole has been torn, so senselessly. 

It is particularly hard that Rufus’s death has come so soon after the death of his much-loved father, John – who was a huge part of our life here at St Bride’s for very many years.  Do please know that everyone here at St Bride’s shares your sense of loss today.

Rufus will always be loved, and he will always be missed.  But our task today is above all to be thankful: to rejoice in the extraordinary and wonderful man that he was, and to give thanks that his life enriched the lives of those around him in so many ways. 

We begin now with an opening prayer.  Let us pray:

Loving God, our refuge and our strength,
We are here to give thanks for the life of Rufus,
whom we love but see no longer,
Though parted from us, he remains alive in our hearts
and in our love.
Hold him in your perfect and infinite care,
Until the day comes when we, too,
can find life, and peace and perfect joy with him,
enfolded in your love and grace for all eternity.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Nick Baum

Tom Cjiffers

Good Morning, and thank you all for being here to celebrate Rufus’ life. If anyone could fill a church 5,000 miles from the city where they live, Rufus could.

My name is Tom, I am fortunate enough to be Rufus’ oldest friend. Rufus & I met when we were two years old, I was an usher at his wedding and I’m godfather to Oscar.

We grew up together as neighbours. It started with sandpits, action man and tanks. Then we moved on to Knight Rider – from early on Rufus could spot a star with real musical talent. Rufus was there when I had my first shave and he lent me his aftershave, it was probably Drakka Noir. Not of course that Rufus used it very much – even then he sported the most impressive stubble of all of us! It was also on holiday with the whole Waterlow family, that Rufus and I bought our first bottle of wine (don’t tell Camilla). We pushed the cork in with a stick and drank it, but it was only after consuming a pack of extra strong mints each to cover the smell, that Rufus would even consider going back to the villa. I think we got away with it, at least until today!

I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time at number 81 Streathbourne Road and I know it was from there and from his extended family that Rufus got his love of music and all things North American – from to the John Lee Hooker records Camilla played to baseball caps and sleeveless puffers. More importantly, he also got his easy charm, his creativity, his empathy, his genuine interest in other people and his ability to be a fantastic host. Those things came from his family, from Camilla & John, and he carried them through his whole life. They made Rufus.

Then he met Liz. She also fell for his charm and I remember him telling me how lucky he was. There is a photo of the two of them dancing face-to-face at my 21st, which can only have been a year or so after they met, and you can see from that picture that it was a partnership for life. And it was. It took them through a beautiful wedding right here in this church, to the new world in Vancouver and then to Oscar & Jake. When I visited Vancouver I was always jealous of how well Rufus slipped into his role as a dad – it seemed to give him a new purpose and direction.

But he was destined to be good at it, because that was Rufus. As well as Liz, kids and family Rufus had three great passions.

Firstly there was music. He went to Nashville with Jason to record an EP together and even jammed for a while Shania’ Twaine’s drummer, not that that impressed me much! Rufus was always generous with his love of music, so much so that he made a career arranging playlists for other people. I will always remember one of the best moments at my wedding, after the ceremony, the wedding breakfast, the speeches and the dancing were over a small group of us ended up in the drawing room of the country hotel. Now, as many of you will know, Rufus would never knowingly leave a party early and of course he was there with Liz. In the corner of the room there was a piano and Rufus decided to tinkle the ivories. I am pretty sure that Rufus would never have said the piano was his preferred instrument or that 2am lounge music was his favourite genre, but he just wanted to share his love of music with other people. To create something special for everyone. That was Rufus.

His second great passion was skiing. I sometimes think that if there was a large mountain in Essex and Billericay was a world famous ski resort, Liz’s job in Vancouver might have seemed a lot less attractive! I was lucky enough to ski with him at Whistler and, like Rufus, I am an enthusiastic skier. The difference is that Rufus was a very good skier. So when we got to the top of the mountain and Rufus tells me that his favorite (and John’s favourite) off-piste run was just over the hill I was worried. Of course I should have known better. I’m sure he wanted to let the powder fly, but he guided me through every turn and fall with his usual patience and grace. His interest in others, his empathy, came through in skiing just like everything else. That was Rufus.

His third great passion was his friends. Through all the time that I knew Rufus it was always easy to spend time with him. He was always asking questions about my life and every time Rufus, Liz and the kids came back to London it was always the same – fun, natural, like we had seen each other yesterday. That was Rufus.

I love the reading we heard earlier from John’s gospel. We all have a room in our father’s house. That passage has always given me comfort that we will all see each other again on the other side. And I’m sure that when we see Rufus it will be just like when he came back from Vancouver – the same easy company, the same interest in everyone else. I’m sure it will feel like we saw each other yesterday – because that was Rufus.

Erik Nordby

I’m going to focus on Rufus’s time in Vancouver – aka the “The Promised Land”.

The first time I met Rufus is the stuff of legend … (I call it a legend because I’m the only one that remembers it) … it was on Hamilton Street in Yaletown. A bunch of us VFX nerds were pretending to play road hockey in a Yaletown tournament, I had worked with Liz for a few months and heard tale of a guitar playing Rufus. It had recently rained, and the sun had just come out. I remember a lot of glistening. I saw him from afar. He was wearing a striking long coat and looked about 26% more handsome than the best Yaletown had to offer that sunny afternoon. I feel like he spun around in slow motion when I approached… Crazy Strong handshake. We spoke. I think he was signing autographs or something, so I let him be.

Everything I just said has been doggedly denied by everyone involved (including Rufus), But I don’t care. Perhaps I was projecting, I really wanted to like him, and ….. I played drums and he played guitar.

It was 2010 and the winter Olympics were on. A week later we sat together at the Heineken House with more work friends. The bus ride home took 3.5 hours for some unknown reason. I considered that our first date. It must have been a good one, because a couple days later we were playing music together for the first time.

And I need to take a moment. I’m guessing that Rufus and I probably played together 200 times over the past 12 years. And MAN I’m going to miss that more than anything else. It was our thing. Our time. We would drop into a such a calm meandering state when we played together. Some of my favourite photos and videos I took of Rufus are when I would catch him unawares while we were playing. He looked so child like. So happy. Sitting cross legged on the floor cradling his guitar. I would send them to Liz to make her jealous, since I knew it was like a rare Sasquatch moment only I got to witness.

Music led us to the Gorge to attend some sort of Dave Matthews love-in. Not sure how Anita and I ended up there, but was glad we did. I loved running from stage to stage with Rufus discovering bands and drinking cans of corona larger than a baseball bat. (Slightly smaller than a cricket bat). Huddled around Liz’ impromptu pasta-n-block-o- cheese-by-headlamp-over-open-curling-iron-flame, (you should all try it). Anita led a round of music trivia, Rufus dominated, I scraped the pasta off the bottom of the tin and watched.

If it’s not clear by this point – Music was at Rufus’s core. Part of me thinks his brain only spoke music and had to constantly translate to English. Which brings me to one of my closest and most recent memories. The night John passed, Rufus called to tell me. My weepy Canadian self couldn’t really keep it together. I was sitting on a bed in LA and wanted to jump through the phone and take Rufus out for a pint. But like a strong Brit he was so in control and ended up comforting me. A month later we met up in Vancouver. I convinced him to join me at an Andrew WK Show – picture the heaviest, most over the top party-rock. By the end of the night we were both soaked in sweat and had lost our voices. He wept for John that night through his pores, he pushed everything out. It was pure catharsis. In our last phone call – we made plans to re-enact it the next chance we got.

I remember one of the first times I met John and Camilla and talked about us playing music together. We were in a Pub in Chelsea. Camilla’s eyes lit up. It was clear she was happy he had found another creative outlet. John wanted to know what we were charging at the door.

This is the half way point in this speech… I will memorialize this with one word … Mayonnaise

The day Oscar was born I was with my family – 8000 km away travelling Norway and I remember thinking that Liz had it all figured out and wasn’t worried, but Rufus was about to have his world rocked. In fact earlier that year Rufus and I were driving to Whistler and talking about his arriving child. As he weaved in and out of traffic at double the speed limit turning one lane into two… I told him that what I was going through as a passenger reminded me of the onset of fatherhood – and that there was no way to express what was coming his way.

I’ve been surprised by Rufus before, but never as surprised as watching him pivot into becoming a dad. The best part of the Vancouver Rufus story was watching him raise his boys. Rufus was born for this. He wrestled with his own path, but I think came to peace with it when Oscar was born. None of us make sense. We all struggle to feel like we know what we’re doing. But watching Rufus taking on this new challenge seemed effortless. He was so protective. So driven to surround them with solid structure and support. To make them both world-class skiers for instance (which is now on us).
At Oscar’s christening, I didn’t watch the priest, or even Oscar… I watched Rufus’s face. To bring a son home to St. Bride’s was monumental for him. I celebrated the occasion by wearing jeans.

In reality – There were two Vancouver Rufus’s – Pre Oscar and Post Oscar. Many in this room only know Post-Oscar Rufus. I think we can all agree he’s pretty great. Pre-Oscar Rufus was… a riddle wrapped inside an Englishman. So much potential and kindness desperately searching for an outlet. He found it. Simply put … As a father Rufus’s best qualities bloomed and it was clear he was now composing two of his masterpieces.

The Rufus I knew could be woken up by a single high-heel footstep on the floor above his sleeping head. The Rufus I knew was so driven he would put vacations on hold to make sure the correct song was playing at the Keg, or a 5 star half way around the world. The Rufus I knew would drop everything to ski Blackcomb or meet me a Foo Fighters show in Atlanta. The Rufus I knew lived for conversation and was the most outgoing recluse I ever met. A lot of us would joke that he was the last to leave a party because he needed to say a personal goodbye to each and every guest. The Rufus I knew was frustrated by the taste in the world. He heard every song playing in the background at all times. Sometimes multiple songs overlapping. He would stop mid- sentence to break it down for you, and I often couldn’t even hear it. He should have been the world’s DJ. He was impeccably polite and didn’t suffer the impolite. He was stubbornly gracious and loyal to a fault. If I bought him a bottle of whiskey – he would wait and only drink it with me.

He was so sensitive. So creative. So unafraid of being charming. His parents so desperately loved and missed him and wished they could see him more in London. It was tough, He was more Canadian than I was… and just as I was falling in love with England I could see it from both sides. We all yearn for the world we never knew. Rufus found so much here in Vancouver. He found space. He found people that saw him truly for himself. He found amazing friends, many gathered here. He found a home for his family. He finally found good beer.

Oscar and Jake are so lucky to have Rufus as their dad and Liz as their mom. And nothing will ever take that away.

It makes no sense that he isn’t here, but goddammit I’m going live like he hasn’t gone anywhere.

Alec Waterlow

I wanted to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone for attending today and for all the communications, contributions, and comradery you have provided over the last few weeks. It has been an incredibly difficult and surreal period for all of us, but the love and support you have shown us during this tragedy will not be forgotten. Thank you.

It is not lost on me that the last time I saw many of you was here in this church as Rufus and I stood side by side reading our addresses at my father’s memorial, so today is a very tough day. I think for us all the last 3 years has had some of the most challenging moments we can remember, but we have to stand here today stronger and more resolute to make the most of life and learn from Rufus by prioritising those things you cannot necessarily put a price on and always try to do the right thing.

After the addresses and readings we have heard today we all have a deeper sense of who Rufus was, the parts we knew well and the parts we didn’t know so well. Sadly I would imagine like me, we all have that feeling of there should have been so much more time and so much more fun and frolics. He was at heart a gentle soul, a very charming and kind gentleman who never quite believed how accomplished he was.

It is very special to have everyone together and we really hope you will join us afterwards. We know Rufus will be looking down on us with that broad smile on his face as we enjoy one another’s company, share our stories of our best friend and enjoy his astute, influential and crafted music taste, kindly curated by his Vancouver based friend Alex.

As often is the case with siblings, there were shades of complexity to our relationship, not always helped by our father who for some sport would quite enjoy occasionally getting in the middle of some petty quarrel and winding things up a notch. Equally Rufus and I enjoyed turning the temperature up on our father. For those of you who knew my father, you can imagine his red faced reaction when on the way to a large family affair we were already late for, he pronged another car, only for Rufus and I in the back seats to burst out laughing.

Rufus and I apparently look the same, speak the same and have the same mannerisms. I will let you be the judge of who is better looking, but it is fair to say our personalities were quite contrasted. The worst of me is the best of him, his patience, dedication, thoughtfulness and quest for absolute perfection in an imperfect world were always qualities I hugely admired.

The memories of our childhood are dominated by the holidays we used to take. One family holiday was in the summer of my GCSE results. The destination was Turkey and as a point of note it would be fair to say that it has taken a while for me to grow into my good looks, I do wonder if my wife appreciates everyday what a good return on her investment she has made.

Anyway as a result, confidence at 16 was low when it came to initiating the chat with girls. This was not a problem Rufus had and I will always remember him making the introduction for me to the most beautiful girl in this Turkish resort…. His strategy as my unappointed wing-man was masterful as he positioned himself on a nearby sun lounger, saw her struggling with the placement of a towel across the burnt tops of her feet, offered to help and then brought me into the picture. His charm and chivalry, to my advantage, won again and she was my first but unfortunately for me, very short -lived girlfriend. Her loss.

As we have heard today skiing was one of Rufus’s great passions. Rufus and my father John shared many ski experiences, some hairier than others, once when John slipped over the side of the mountain only to be found in one piece much further down it and another time when John lost his front teeth.

For some reason early on in Rufus’s diagnosis I took some solace in the thought that if the worst did happen, my father and Rufus would spend everyday skiing in heaven with grins spread wide across their faces. And that is where they are, Rufus with his great style and speed and my father John following in his wake. They will be enjoying long lunches, vin chaud and discussing the piste maps in detail to work out the next best leg of their journey.

It will take time, but there will be brighter days ahead for my mother, Liz and the boys. I know everyone here will work tirelessly to ensure the boys live the fullest of lives and always feel like they have every ounce of support and love that they ever need. Hopefully more than they need. We are learning in the cruellest of ways not to delay and that life is most definitely for living, so let’s minimise the planning, stop waiting for that perfect moment which will likely never arrive and get out into the world to maximise the fun, love and laughter.


Amanda Howard read John 14: 1-7

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Jason Piper read Feel no guilt by anon.

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you. A word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.


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

Nimrod from Enigma Variations – Edward Elgar
In Paradisum – Gabriel Faur
God be in my head – Henry Walford Davies
How beautiful upon the mountains – John Stainer
Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana – Pietro Mascagni
Impossible – Nothing but Thieves arr. Léon Charles
Fantasia in G – Sir Hubert Parry


He who would valiant be
Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Rufus Waterlow family montage
congregation sitting for service


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