Air Vice Marshal Barry Hamilton Newton CB, CVO, OBE
1st April 1932 - 25th August 2020
It’s quite often said that the secret of a good life is to die young as late as possible. Air Marshal Barry Newton had a good life, he lived it well, and he took his leave for the next as late as possible. I've known Barry only for the last quarter century or so and there are many others, of course, so much better qualified to write about him as a nationally distinguished figure, as a much respected colleague and a lifelong friend, but, as his village priest, I am honoured to be asked to say a few simple words about this faithful and supportive parishioner and friend whose manifest gifts, whose love of life and whose care for others, was an inspiration and mainstay to so many of us. His passion for life, for doing all things well and his integrity shone through and was always so apparent - perhaps especially whenever he was encouraging the young to see how they could take their part, do something good and worthwhile, go that extra mile for the benefit of the whole community and just make this funny old world of ours a slightly better place.
He had a profound respect for what is just and honourable and a deep sense of duty to the common good. He knew the human condition well enough and empathised with the rest of us who have feet of clay. He judged others generously. He cared for people in a sensitive and unfussy way. And all this care and integrity shone through. Others could see that it was part of the warp and weave of the man; who he was. Surely that and diligence and sheer hard work helped to make him an outstanding leader. He saw leadership in terms of service and of care and selflessness. He shared his many credits with humility. And he helped others shoulder responsibility with honour. He encouraged those around him to see that, whilst failures are part of life, nevertheless, we should never allow ourselves to be defined by our failures, but see how learning from setbacks can strengthen us and make us better people.
He was a man who loved his country - from the beauty of the Blackdown Hills, to the character of the British people, to the service of the crown. He was a patriot. He taught others that public service is good and noble and necessary; and that one can and should serve with integrity and hold true to those values which are eternal. He believed strongly that serving others enriches the giver’s soul and that it is important to give back to the country and to the community which has nurtured us. He also had a great sense of humour and was great fun. He could tease to make a point, but never unkindly, and he loved to laugh.
It struck me that Barry was always happiest when he had a mission; he loved to be occupied. And yet he was never too busy to share his love of life with those around him. In fact he loved having people of all sorts around him. Those horizons he saw as a gifted young Royal Air Force pilot were bright and hopeful. And he continually broadened those horizons. And that hopefulness remained with him. He was, at heart, a genuinely hopeful and optimistic man. And that hopeful spirit inspired others to believe that all sorts of things were possible for them too. To the last his life was instructive.
It’s a cliché, but it could not be truer that Barry and Lavinia were made for each other. They had 57 years of good married life together and they were a great team. They travelled much and adjusted to new surroundings quickly. It must have helped that they were kind and neighbourly. They had lots of parties and loved to entertain and they were always warm and welcoming.
Barry stayed young at heart and aged well and as he aged he taught those around him to age well too through finding confidence to serve the community and do their extra bit for others. He grew old with dignity and with kindness. In quieter moments Barry would share news of Melanie and Charles and Sally and James and Max and one could see that his family meant more than all this world to him. And when the good Lord finally called him he was ready; he was thankful for his blessings and he look forward with hope in the promise of what lies ahead.
In a time without Coronavirus Covid 19 St Mary's church, Stratfield Mortimer, would have been packed full for his funeral with people from all walks of life coming to give thanks for and honour a man who served his country and community with distinction and was a true and loyal friend to so many. He nurtured so many friendships. How many were blessed to receive those handwritten notes which, whether wishing happiness, sympathizing or thanking, were always encouraging. He had a great capacity to give of himself for others and many would be happy and honoured to attest to his influence upon their lives and to his mentorship.
Barry Hamilton Newton was an officer, an Air Marshal, of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed all the many duties of his life with care and responsibility, with dignity and honour. But, first and foremost, because it would please him, we give thanks for and commend to God a man who loved his wife and a father who loved his children and grandchildren.
He leaves his community, his country and this world better than he found it. We are going to miss him very much, but we have been blessed to know and love him and we are consoled to know that he is reunited with Lavinia and all those he has loved and not seen a while.
Until, please God, we meet again.
The Reverend Paul Chaplin MA, Vicar