Eulogy for Hervé
By James Enright
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It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone who has been part of our lives. In my case Hervé was part of my life for 54 years. When a person is gone there is a hole in your life. That is what many of us are feeling today. Some of you knew Hervé better than others, but you are here because he had an impact on your life.
As Cicero said “The life given to us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal”
Hervé was born in Brittany, France, the brother of Armelle and Brigid and the son of a famous sculpture and painter.
Bill Croke, a classmate of Hervé observed, “I will always remember the love and respect that Hervé had for his dad’s commitment to the Breton Cause and the acceptance of the good and bad that went with that commitment. Maybe that is where he developed his fierce sense of loyalty and commitment to friends and family.”
Hervé’s family came to Ireland in 1947 and settled in Bray, County Wicklow. He went to St Brigid School &Presentation College in Bray and then on to Blackrock College. Herve was a shy schoolboy growing up. Do any of you remember Herve as shy …not the Herve I knew.
After secondary school he went to the University College Dublin to study Law. Just imagine for a moment what impact Hervé would have made as a lawyer….. We will never know because he changed plans and attended Shannon College of Hotel Management. That is where we met.
Hervé stood out at Shannon, but in a good way. He was different because he was French. He was also a few years older, had that French flair and had arrived in Shannon 6 months before the rest of his classmates. He worked at the Airport Flight Kitchens and loved being a chef creating dishes for International flights. When the rest of the class arrived, Hervé was our guide to all things Shannon. He knew the inner workings of the airport and most importantly the bars, restaurants, and especially Durty Nelly’s Pub.
We were fortunate to have Hervé as a classmate as he was a vital connection but did not always follow the strict rules of the college. Our Swiss College Director Mr. Jorgan Blum would often say “Goulet-get your hair cut,” as beards and long hair were not allowed.
For me and the other 23 classmates at Shannon, Hervé impacted our lives as he did others.
David Wilkinson, a Shannon Alumni and East Sussex neighbor, and good friend said that “Hervé was a great character, a Frenchman with an Irish sense of humor.” Hervé & Alison introduced David & his wife Elizabeth to their good friends Bob & Lesley and they started the Friday Drinks Club.
During President Nixon’s visit to Ireland in 1970, Hervé and I were assigned as waiters at the Limerick Inn to take care of the Secret Service. When the Yanks requested a pitcher of water, Hervé would pull out a photo of the River Shannon. They loved it and gave some great tips! Hervé did not spare his humor on just us, after a discussion about advertising, Hervé once said, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark…You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”
Hervé always had our backs and after a weekend celebrating Bill Croke’s 21st birthday, our car broke down in the early morning near Durty Nelly’s and we attempted to thumb a lift back to Shannon. Hervé saw Mr Blum’s car coming and alerted us to hide so as not to get caught as that would have been the end to our Shannon careers.
During his year in Zurich, Hervé was studying/working at the Belvoir Park Hotel School which had a 10:00pm curfew for all students. His classmates Richard Butler who is here today, Adrian Davis and Bill Croke were stationed at the Carlton Elite Hotel and had no curfew. The classmates shared that Hervé became the most popular student at the Belvoir Park Hotel School as he complained to Mr Blum that the curfew was impacting his social life and he needed to come and go after hours to meet his Shannon college friends and was given a front door key.
His power of persuasion was not only evident in his communication, but also in his artistic abilities. He once painted the Irish colors on a bed sheet for the Ireland v France Rugby Game played in Paris in 1972 which the students attended even though he was supporting the French team. He loved Les Bleus.
After his time at Shannon, Hervé worked for several hotel groups in the UK. He was GM at the Hydro Hotel in Llandudno and his friend Geoff Lofthouse was GM at the Imperial Hotel.They played squash every Sunday and after a hectic game, would visit the Queens Head pub for lunch and drink nothing but Champagne. These were two carefree and single young guys who were the toast of Llandudno. One Sunday at the Queen Head they met Alison who was serving them. They thought they were the “BEES KNEES” and acted accordingly. Alison had enough and stopped serving them Champagne and challenged them at squash. This sparked a budding romance and Alison and Hervé started dating and later married.
Alison was attending the University of Liverpool and met one of Herve’s good friends, Peter O’Meara another Shannon Alumni. Peter was GM at St George Hotel. Peter made sure to keep an eye on Alison during her days in Liverpool.
When Alison started working at Roedean School in Brighton, it brought them to the East Sussex area where they settled into a great life and made wonderful friends. Herve loved running the Nutfield Priory and NewPark Country House Hotels.
Hervé and Alison also gave back to the local community. For years Hervé served on the summer lunch committee at St. Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne organizing a wonderful team of butlers who provided fantastic service.
Hervé was skilled and worked wonders making things including building Alison’s Horse Barn & Stables and putting a conservatory on their house. He had a shed full of amazing tools and could turn his hand to anything.
He was also known for his craftmanship and built a base for the wooden rocking horse “Dundrum” with his friend David Wilkinson that was auctioned off at the St Wilfrid’s Hospice lunch and was purchased by Michael and Tracie Willis. He was very proud of their work on the horse! The auction raised £100,000
Of all the memories, my fondest is our time together chatting over Facetime about the Rugby/Soccer games-we would be talking about the current Rugby World Cup if he were still here….Hervé always with a glass of red wine in his hand. We would catch up and reminisce weekly about the good old days of Shannon (He was a very proud Shannon Alumni) We discussed life’s adventures as he had a brilliant memory and could recall names, places, and details…some I wish to forget.
On our last call a few weeks ago, he updated me on his condition but what I remember most is that he wanted to make sure Alison was not forgotten after his departure. They had a wonderful marriage and were a great team.
He was looking forward to attending the 50th Anniversary of the Class of 1973 next month and seeing all his classmates again. Sadly, it was not meant to be. We will offer a toast to Hervé when we meet, and Alison, you will always be a member of the Class of 1973 family.
Hervé was considerate and mindful of others. The life he lived reminds us to never regret a day in our lives. Good days give you happiness, bad days give you experience, worst days give you lessons, and the best days give you memories. By holding on to those memories, we can focus on the good times and the impact he made on our lives.
We will remember Hervé forever, knowing that he was loved by so many people. I want to end with a poem by Linda Ellis-The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end
He noted that first came the 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 they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
May Hervé Rest in Peace – Au Revoir Mon Ami