“It is with great sadness that I have to tell the members of the BMAA that our President Keith Negal passed away on the afternoon of Friday the 4th of February 2011, peacefully in hospital.”
Yesterday we went, along with about 200 others from all over the UK and further, to Keith’s funeral. Boofuls and me have always had a profound respect for Keith, over the years he has become a good friend.
It’s rare to find a person with so much energy, enthusiasm and passion for what he believed in. We have been regaled many times with stories by him and about him, some funny, some jaw dropping, all incredible.
Microlighting was just one chapter in his life, a life in which he crammed many lifetimes worth of living. We were lucky enough to be there when he was awarded the RAeC Gold Medal last year which put him into an exclusive club which boasts among it’s members, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Louis Bleriot.
Not only was he incredible in the world of aviation but also in business and as a soldier.
I remember the evening when, over a glass or two of wine, he told us the tale of how a bomb exploded while he was defusing it. He’d played it down and turned the story into a tragi-comedy, having us rolling around laughing as he was telling us what happened.
It wasn’t until we heard the story told a different way yesterday that we realised the full enormity of his courageousness and the risks he took on a daily basis as part of his job to serve his country.
He truly was one of our country’s heros.
He always said that by rights he should have died when that bomb went off. “Every day after that is a bonus.” was the motto he lived by since then.
I for one feel that it was an honour to have known him.
Her is an excerpt from a poem by Linda Ellis which was read out at his funeral yesterday:
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the “dash” between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.
Keith Negal 1948 – 2011