Sir Michael Marshall
Last week I attended a very sad event, the funeral at Slindon of my predecessor but one, Sir Michael Marshall. I'm not surprised that the church was packed, because Michael was immensely liked and respected locally.
He was MP for Arundel for 23 years, and was dedicated to his constituency. He was a successful Minister who brought his experience of industry to government, and later a distinguished ambassador for the British Parliament as Chairman of the Inter Parliamentary Union. He was also a Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex and a committed Christian.
Michael was extremely kind to me and always a source of wise counsel. I know that his immediate successor, Howard Flight, who was also at the funeral, equally valued Michael's generosity of spirit.
We shared a love of cricket and I last saw Michael just a few weeks ago when we watched the Duke of Norfolk's XI play on a perfect summer's day at the beautiful Arundel Castle Ground. Typically, he was on his usual good form, bright and humorous. He never complained about the illness which he fought courageously for some years.
Michael was no doubt thrilled that, in an exciting finish, Sussex won the C&G Trophy last month by 15 runs. The last time they won was two decades ago, when Michael was still an MP. I am sorry that he was not able to see Sussex head (we hope!) towards their second county championship title in four years.
At his funeral, one of Michael's closest friends told of how proud and thrilled he was when he was first selected to represent the Arundel constituency. I know exactly how Michael felt, and feel privileged to have followed in his footsteps. I, and I know many others, will miss him.