Today I attended Stuart Asquith’s funeral in Cheltenham. It was a dignified and moving occasion and Stuart’s coffin was draped with the Union flag, as befits a man who had been both a serving soldier and long-time member and supporter of the British Legion.
Brigadier (Ret’d) Charles S Grant, a close friend of Stuart’s for over 40 years, gave an address. In it, he mentioned the phenomenal response to Stuart’s passing as seen here on Facebook, Twitter and to my initial blog post. As you may have seen, Stuart’s son and daughter-in-law both expressed their joy at discovering just how popular their dad was, which has been a real comfort to them at this difficult time. Charles also spoke of the generosity of Stuart and his wife Beryl on the many occasions when he, on active duty at the time, turned up at very short notice to spend time with the family and, of course to play and talk wargaming with Stuart.
In fact, both Stuart’s son Tom and daughter Karen spoke in their own addresses of the part wargaming and modelling had played in Stuart’s life, and that the response of the community has given them a new insight into a side of their father that they knew little about.
At the wake, well-known gamer and author Keith Flint had set up a display using just a small part of Stuart’s collection of shiny 30mm and 54mm models to create a wonderful centrepiece for the event, and it drew many eyes and lovely comments. As for the castle, Charles Grant told me that it was a gift from him to Stuart, who took a shine to it in Mac’s Models at the bottom of the a Royal Mile in Edinburgh, so he bought it for him as a thank you in return for his generosity. It’s fair to say that many of Stuart’s relatives had no idea quite how important a role wargaming played in Stuart’s life, nor the affection and esteem in which Stuart was held by our worldwide community.
Unfortunately, Charles Grant had to head off early to catch a plane, but a number of wargamers attended both the funeral and wake, including Keith Flint, Phil Olley, Dave Ryan, Roy Boss and John Curry.
For my own part, I think the simplest way of summing up the influence Stuart had on me is to remind you that the main reason I launched Battlegames magazine back in 2006 was to fill the void that Practical Wargamer had left. That I was able to get him and his dear friend Charles Grant to contribute to the magazine for such a long time meant the world to me – employing one’s wargaming heroes is an extraordinary privilege.
Here are a handful of photos from this afternoon. They now include a photo taken by Stuart’s son Tom of one of the displays, for which the family had printed out dozens of the tweets and Facebook comments seen in the last couple of weeks since Stuart’s passing. In the centre is an illustration by Peter Dennis for Little Wars, showing Stuart in the boater hat.
R.I.P. Stuart Asquith: we will remember him.