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Rocket Man Ian’s ashes are fired into the sky at send-off

A TOTALLY unique event saw a late Bognor Regis DJ’s ashes rocketed into the sky.


Just over 40 of the nearest and dearest friends of Ian Harding gathered at a private garden party to watch the final fulfilment of his specific instruction to be scattered over his beloved town.


A spectacular and dazzling firework display was followed by the firing of two large rockets that were deployed to propel Ian’s ashes into the heavens accompanied by the strains of Elton John’s Rocket Man provided by another DJ, Martin Lury. Fittingly, he used some of Ian’s music equipment for the occasion.


Organiser Nick Stuart-Nicolson said: “Ian would have loved every moment of his final send-off.


“Had we held this event on the seafront or from the pier, we would have attracted many hundreds of people. But matters such as health and safety made that quite impracticable to organise. Instead, it was held from a location much loved and often visited by Ian and on occasion by his close friend and former Bognorian, the now late Cynthia Payne.”


Ian died after a short battle with illness on the eve of his 76th birthday on October 1, 2104.


His funeral was held later that month and brought together hundreds of his friends. Many of them shared their fond memories of him. Mr Stuart-Nicolson said at the time: “We all know that great adage – I will never forget what’s-his-name.


“Well, Ian was not that kind of person because anyone who met Ian was immediately hooked. He had that rare ability to be able to light up a room.”


Ian, who lived in the town centre, had been a resident of Bognor Regis for more than 50 years and was a popular DJ around the town. He was also the chairman of the Bognor Regis Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He had been friends with Mr Stuart-Nicolson, the chamber’s current president, for 20 years plus.


Ian was also a town councillor for many years and represented a Bognor Regis ward on Arun District Council for eight years.


Among the small crowd he assembled at the rocket launch were three former town mayors – Cllrs Francis Oppler, Jim Brooks and Paul Wells. A fourth, Cllr Jeanette Warr, was unable to attend.


Lavish musical tributes in memory of Ian were spectacularly provided by other legendary figures from the town’s musical past in a nostalgia-filled three hours. They included the incomparable Steve Gordon of The Diamonds, an outstanding compilation of Shadows hits by Lawrey Smith, a former member of The Diamonds, and a very poignant personal tribute, Tulsa Time, delivered with much emotion by the world-famous and hugely respected singer/songwriter Jackie Lynton, who wrote a great deal of music for Status Quo.


Also there were Peter Keen of Bullett and the much-celebrated Roy Haines, late of The Fenmen and The Detours.

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