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Sunday 11 October 2015


Remembering Phillip Cottrell

Posted in: Community
By GayNZ.com staff - 20th December 2012

Friends and family members have held a service and blessed a bench in memory of slain gay Wellington man Phillip Cottrell, remembering him as a passionate traveller, a kind-hearted and giving man who lived by the mantra "It's nice to be nice."

Plaque_1.jpg

We share a full transcript of the service, thanks to his friends:

Andrew Bollen: Good evening. My name is Andrew Bollen. I'm one of the ministers at Wellington Central Baptist Church, just across the road. And we want to welcome you here this evening, and especially those of you who are friends, and of course the family of Phillip Cottrell, so it's wonderful for you to be here tonight.

The plan for tonight is that shortly we'll be led in a prayer, followed by some comments, and then we will have the unveiling of the seat.

And then following that there's going to be an opportunity for any of you who would like to speak and maybe share a memory or something that you'd like to say, we thought we'd open it up to you to speak. And then we're going to finish with a blessing.

And then Radio New Zealand have kindly invited us to join them up at the Radio New Zealand building at their cafeteria where they're going to provide some refreshments, so you're welcome to come and join us there after that.

So I've asked Father Barry, he's from Saint Mary's of the Angels just down the road, and he's going to open with a prayer for us.

Father Barry Scannell: Yes, going to bless this sacred place with holy water and ask the Lord that it will always be a place of healing and of memory of Phillip.

We ask you, Gracious God, to bless this sacred place in memory of Phillip. We pray that the tragic circumstances of his death will be a reminder to all of us of the sanctity of human life. May we always strive for peace both within ourselves and within our society.

And we especially remember, this Christmas, Phillip's family. Sue and Heath, we remember you especially this night, and your children.

We remember Phillip's friends, his colleagues from Radio New Zealand.

And we pray that through the goodness of his life that each of us may spread the virtue of love in our society.

I bless this memorial with water to cleanse away the darkness of what happened in this street on the 10th of December, 2011. And we pray that the light of Christ will shine once again on those who pass this memorial and who remember Phillip and the person he was for so many, and we ask that prayer through Christ our Lord.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

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Andrew Bollen: Just over a year ago, or a year ago today, an act of evil took place across the road. It was a random act of violence that ended up costing an innocent man, Phillip Cottrell, his life. And this act impacted deeply upon Wellington as a city.

And it had a sobering effect on our local church community, outside which this attack took place, and as a result of that members of our church were keen for us to find a way to remember Phillip as we came up to the first anniversary of his death. And as a result of discussions a suggestion was made that we use this particular site here, which really was just barren ground, and we use it and offer it to Phillip's family to partner with us and to install a memorial seat as a place for people to sit and remember Phillip.

And when we contacted Sue, Phillip's sister, this fitted with what they were hoping to do here in Wellington. So as a result, out of something ugly we've been able to create a place of beauty and rest, a place to sit and remember Phillip.

Bill Herbert is one of our local kaumatua and we've asked him if he would like to come and unveil the seat and pray for it. Bill was also responsible for lifting the tapu on the site where Phillip was attacked last year. Thanks Bill.

Reverend Bill Herbert: [Maori blessing] I don't know what I said, but it just sounded appropriate.

First of all, constant, not when we feel like it, I thank God at once in the glory. He's the essence of love that we're here tonight to show for our brother Phillip. And of course we pay respect to all those who were returned back to our Heavenly Father. And Jesus is another gate in. There's only one way to the Father's house, is through Jesus. He's another gate of all that.

And of course we come back to us, the living, to continue the legacy that our ancestors have left us, whether we're Pakeha, Chinese, Japanese, ethnic, Samoan, we are here to show our appreciation for God's love, and we're here to show our appreciation for the family's love, and for us especially on this day. So, that's what I said in Maori. I better not say any more or everybody might start speaking Maori and give me a fright.

So, what I'm going to do, I'm going to bless the … seat because it is love, peace, an aim meant to glorify Gods. This is the great-grandchild of Tane-mahuta, you know, the forest that God created, and through the aspiration as I've been brought up and my grandchildren and my children have been brought up, I utilize this. When I die that will continue within my children. When they die it will continue right through the legacy as my great-grandparents started this. What we call the [tupua mua mua hua], the seed of the legacy of God's love. We will remember that.

[Maori blessing]

So there we go: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Can I sing a song, and everybody will run away? I'll sing a song, and it means glorifying our Heavenly Father.

He honore He koro ria
Maungarongo ki te whenua
Whakaro pai e ki nga tangata katoa
Ake a ke Ake a ke Amine
Te atu a Te piri nga
Toku orange
Toku oranga

Heavenly Father we give you great thanks for the love of Jesus. Through Jesus' name, amen. Thank you.

Andrew Bollen: Okay. So this is the part where anybody who wants to speak can speak. There is a microphone here. If you want to use it you can, it just means that we get to hear what you said on the tape and Sue can send a copy of it back to her parents. So anybody who'd like to, this is your opportunity.

Sue Hollows: I'd really just like to say thank you to everybody for coming. It's wonderful to see so many people here again. It just means how much Phillip meant to so many people. Thank you to Andrew and the Baptist church especially, and to James for all they've done in making this possible. It was something, as Andrew said, that we wanted to do as a family in memory of Phil, and the church have made it possible. So here we are, and it's lovely; thank you so much.

Reverend Herbert: Do you want to sing a song?

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Andrew Bollen: Okay. Anybody else?

Vicki McKay: Hi. I bring here a burnt offering, literally. I picked these before I left tonight, and that was 4½ hours ago and they were in the car. And I arrived and I'm so embarrassed and somebody said to me, "Phil would find that really funny that they'd died along the way," so this is my burnt offering.

However, I haven't been able to sleep much lately, and last night I wrote a little something... if I can hold it together. It's "Twenty-eight Seconds for Phil."

I saw you smile again the other day, incongruous in the circumstances, warm and so alive in a shop, surreally captured on a film; and for a moment it didn't happen, this grotesque encounter, this collision with the dark in the early morning light, that stole you from us, that made you headline news. Ironic and cruel, that twist of fate. Yet here we are one year on, still grieving on the street, missing every smile and nuance, your humour and professionalism, that gray jacket and the red one, remembering our walks and talks and mischief-making nights. It's just a one-sided conversation now, with a hyphen; but if you're passing, flying by, land awhile. Take a seat. Sent with love from Mum and Dad and Sue. Break your downhill stride my friend, and pause for a voicer. Twenty-eight seconds will do. I'll never forget you. Thank you.

Reverend Herbert: Think we can get a song in here?

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to him belong,
They are weak but he is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me;
Yes, Jesus loves me;
Yes, Jesus loves me;
The Bible tells me so.

memorial_bench.jpg

Lloyd Scott: Vicki, thank you. Vicki and I.... I feel I should have a say after Vicki because Vicki and I share the online programme of Radio New Zealand National.

I'm Lloyd Scott and I was the one who worked with him through that last morning. And the first time I saw the spot where he had his attack was when you gave a blessing, actually. And then we all walked the journey to his house, that he didn't complete. And after that I found that I didn't want to come up this street. It became, I don't know... I found other ways of getting to where I wanted to go. But eventually I started to use it again, and most times I was able, if I was driving, to stop and linger or walk and stand for awhile.

But it's an ugly spot for me. And it's a changing spot because it had a fence which gave it a bit of stability, and now it has a gate, and it looks like it's an area where cars and traffic will go through, so it's even more difficult to leave things for him now. So I think you have done a wonderful thing. It's a compassionate gift to give this to the street where this terrible thing happened to Phil, and where now people can come either just to be here or on passing or somewhere to go to know that you're sort of in communication with him. So, thank you very much.

Peter Cavanagh: Hi everyone. I'm Peter Cavanagh, Chief Executive of Radio New Zealand.

I woke up this morning and I went for a walk and it was overcast and it was drizzling, and my first thought was I could see us all standing around here tonight in the rain, feeling probably even a bit more miserable than we already do. But clearly, Phil's already curried some favour with someone upstairs because the day got better and better as it went on, when we have the most perfect evening for this occasion, and that's only right.

It's lovely to see so many of Phil's friends and his colleagues here tonight, and Sue, you and your family.

Phil's death this time last year touched, I think as someone said earlier, so many people's lives in this city. And a little earlier this evening I was at one of those interminable Christmas functions that you have to go to at this time of the year; a large crowd of people there, and there wouldn't have been one person that I spoke to who didn't want to talk about Phil and to pass on their best wishes, particularly to his Radio New Zealand family, and that probably says a lot about the impact that Phil has had on this community.

This is a really tough time for us all. I can't imagine how hard it must be, Sue, on you and your family. I know it's been incredibly difficult for the Radio New Zealand side of Phil's family. We're not often in the position of having to report about one of our own, and this has been a very, very difficult last couple of weeks. I would like to pay tribute to the Radio New Zealand staff for their absolute professionalism in the way they've gone about the job that they've had to do in reporting it despite all the raw emotions that we're all feeling. So I want to thank my staff for the way they've behaved in the last couple of weeks.

But of course this shouldn't be a night for sadness. This should be a night for happy memories, and Phil certainly left us with plenty of those. And I know as the night goes on, and there are a couple of events planned after this, there'll be plenty of opportunity for everyone to share those happy memories, and I certainly would like to invite you all back to Radio New Zealand to have some refreshments.

But thank you all again for coming. And thank you to the church community for this very thoughtful and generous gesture. It's something that will allow us all to remember Phil as we pass, and a place of sanctity in this street, and we very much appreciate that.

And Sue, to you and your family our thoughts and prayers will be with you in the next days and weeks ahead.

Thank you.

Andrew Bollen: Anybody else that would like to speak?

Malcolm Vaughan: Good evening everybody. My name is Malcolm and my partner and I run a business in … Wellington, which Phillip was a very, very much respected patron of.

Phillip had the most amazing decorum. He was the utmost gentleman. I read something on Facebook this morning from one of his friends here which really touched my heart, and it was something that Phil used to sort of swing by, and the one thing that really took my mind from it was that Phil always said, "It's nice to be nice," and that was the attitude Phil had. He was the most amazing gentleman as one of our patrons. Phil, I've got to say, mate, you were utterly most respected and sincerely missed by all our members of our lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender community.

These flowers were dropped into the bar earlier on this evening by two of your dearest woman friends who unfortunately couldn't make it this evening. But Phil, they're not from just the two ladies, they're from everybody that loved and respected you. And mate, you'll never be forgotten.

And it's great to see that everybody's come together – Radio New Zealand, the church – to put this memorial here so we have got time to go back and remember, every time we walk down this street and we see this bench, we're going to remember Phil Cottrell. To you Phil, mate.

Duchess: Hi everybody. My name is Duchess and I'd just like to say about Phillip: Thank you, Phillip, for being such a gentleman. You scared us in some ways in the way you've ended; but you've given us great strength because people have seen you as being adventurous, and it's your adventurous spirit that lives on. And for anybody that's feeling weak that comes into our bar I'll say about Phil Cottrell, "My God, did he travel, and by gosh we should go and do the same thing!" It's a wonderful world; just a few evil people in it, and all the good people – bless you! Amen.

Male speaker: The person Scotty was talking about was me. I arrived in New Zealand a year ago and it's for my OE. Phil picked me up from the airport. He didn't have to. I'm from London and people don't do that for us back home. And he got my ID number for me, sorted out my bank account, just everything that I didn't think, I didn't realize I had to do. And then he was killed. Back home people are killed all the time, but I didn't think it was going to happen here. But it's amazing how many people have come together for him. This is amazing. But thank you Phil; I'm not the cocky little Cockney that I was when I got here.

Andrew Bollen: Anybody else? Okay. You've just been handed a little candle. I think they've gone around in the little box. As we sort of finish up here we thought it would be quite nice for those that wanted you could light a candle. Did you bring any matches? Got some smokers around with their cigarette lighters; they always save the day, don' they? So we need you to light some of these. We'll just leave them here. If you've got flowers that you want to leave here you can, you're welcome to do that; that's all part of it.

Now, James has sort of said that the church has sort of provided the space and the garden, and different people have donated money from all over the place for this to happen, and it has been suggested that if you'd like to – you don't have to – but if you'd like to you could leave a koha, and that would just help with maintaining the garden over the next while ahead, because we don't want it to sort of grow all weedy and be neglected, so it would be nice to be able to do that. And if you'd like to donate to that you can. James, have you got something for that? Okay; James over here has got a white bucket. If you'd like to leave a koha to help maintain the garden then you're welcome to.

So before we finish and light our candles, Darren here is just going to pray a blessing on us and then we can light our candles and then make our way up to Radio New Zealand. So, Darren.

Darren: So, we've gathered to remember and honour Phillip. And may this place become a place of peace, where out of pain beauty is also found.

And Sue and Heath, our thoughts and our prayers are especially with you and your family as you continue to remember and grieve for Phillip.

So, as we finish here are some words of blessing: The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And the blessing of God, the Creator, the Son, the Holy Spirit, be with you now and forever. Amen. Go in peace.


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GayNZ.com staff - 20th December 2012