Funeral at Easebourne for late viscount's head gamekeeper

The parish church at Easebourne was full on Monday for the funeral of Tom Sawyer, former head gamekeeper to the 3rd Viscount Cowdray.

The viscount's sons – Michael, who succeeded to the title in 1995, and the Hon Charles Pearson – were among the mourners at the hour-long service where all aspects of Mr Sawyer's life were represented, by shooting people, fishermen, farmers, cricketers, golfers and villagers.

Robert Windle, who was appointed agent to the Cowdray Estate in 1990, spoke of the enormous regard in which Mr Sawyer was held.

His job as head keeper meant he held a very senior position among

estate staff.

Mr Windle recalled how, as the newly-appointed young agent, he found his task somewhat daunting when both the head keeper and his boss were

formidably strong personalities.

He was, in modern parlance, Mr Sawyer's 'line manager' but in practice, with the close bond that existed between Lord Cowdray and his keeper, that was no easy assignment.

Robert Smallman, head keeper at the Cocking shoot with which Mr Sawyer become involved in his retirement, spoke of his invaluable help, advice and friendship.

He recalled the day when Madonna and her then husband, Guy Ritchie, were shooting there and the disarray which followed their announcement they would not draw for 'pegs' in the normal fashion, but would always be in the middle of the line of guns where the best shooting was expected.

Mr Smallman said that on more than one occasion during the day, the star's husband reminded the unimpressed Mr Sawyer, who was in charge of

placing the guns, that his name was Mr Ritchie and not 'Mr Itchie'.

Following the funeral service, Tom Sawyer was buried in the Glazers Lane cemetery at Easebourne, in the heart of the estate village.

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