Saturday, 14 December 2013

Going home

 Milborne St Andrew cemetery, late in the afternoon of Saturday 14 December.
At yesterday's funeral Ali's soul was commended to God and her body laid to rest in the cemetery at Milborne St Andrew.  In her final weeks she very often said "I want to go home."  She was referring to her heavenly "home."  I asked if she wanted to "go home" because she was suffering too much and could no longer bear it, and she replied, "No, I just want to be with Jesus."

Ali knew that her true home was not in the village of Milborne St Andrew where she lived from 1987, but with God in heaven.  She knew that her body -  through which she lived, loved, prayed, worked, encouraged others, spread joy, cried and suffered, etc.  - would decay but that it would be the seed for her glorious body which would rise on the last day. Ali believed in the resurrection of the dead. She expressed her belief in it each day in prayer.  She knew that we live to die. She lived exceptionally well and died exceptionally well.  One may, as it were, 'envy' her for having lived a life of intense suffering - yet one with joy and love and hope - for she will experience resurrection in an exceptionally glorious body that few if any of us may expect for ourselves.

At a Catholic funeral one prays for the dead, that they may rest in peace.  Catholics pray for the dead, because we recognise the unlikelihood of being ready to be with God in heaven when we die and that we therefore need a period of purification in the place that is called purgatory.  At the funeral of Pope John Paul II, his sanctity was so evident that, while the funeral was the occasion for commending his soul to God, Cardinal Ratzinger (as he was then) boldly expressed in his homily a conviction that he was already in heaven, saying:  "We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us." 

I attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square in Rome in April 2005.  I am convinced that yesterday I attended, for the second time in my life, the funeral of a saint. I am also convinced that one day Ali will be recognised by the Church not just as a saint but as one of the great saints. 

The proper funeral observances for Ali have now been completed.  I know that my immediate work will focus on publishing information about her that has been hidden for many years so that she will become better known.  I am convinced that she will also begin her work from heaven now to help those who are seeking the truth, seeking God, suffering or in any kind of difficulty.  I encourage others to seek her help.
Ali in 2006

Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Those who wish, may either bring flowers with them and leave them on Alison's grave after the burial, or may have them sent to the undertakers' directly so that they will travel with Alison's body in the hearse and then be placed on her grave. 

The undertakers' is Grassby Funeral Services, 8 Princes Street, Dorchester, DT1 1TW.  Tel: 01305 262338

Monday, 9 December 2013

Viewing Alison's body - UPDATED

Grassby Funeral Services, Dorchester
Alison's body is in the Chapel of Rest of Grassby Funeral Services, 8 Princes Street, Dorchester, DT1 1TW.

Until Wednesday, the body can be viewed by anyone, without appointment, between the hours of 10am and 5pm.  On Thursday 12th Dec, viewing will be between 10am and about 1pm.

There will also be an opportunity to view the body on the evening of Thursday 12th Dec, after it has been received into Holy Trinity Church.

UPDATED:  It will be possible to view the body before the Requiem Mass, from about 10am on the morning of Friday 13th Dec until about 11am. 

Alison's burial - arrangements for getting there: UPDATED

The Church at Milborne St Andrew
A number of people have indicated that they will be travelling to Dorchester by train for Alison's Requiem Mass, and they would therefore have difficulty attending the burial.

Those without transport who would like to attend the burial can travel there by a coach that has been organised.   It will be parked in front of the Church,  a little ahead of the hearse, and it will then follow the hearse after it has passed by. 

Milborne St Andrew cemetery in front of the Church
The burial should be completed by about 2.15pm.   The coach will then make two trips back to Dorchester, dropping off passengers at the railway station and the Church.  The first trip will be about 20-30 minutes after the burial and the second will be about an hour later.  The coach will depart from the Royal Oak pub in Milborne St Andrew, where there will be refreshments.

It would be helpful if those who would like a place on the coach could let me know so that they have a guaranteed place.  It would also be helpful to let me know as soon as possible in case there is need to provide a larger coach. Please email me on

The Royal Oak at Milborne St Andrew
There is no charge for travelling on the coach.

For those who are driving, it would be easiest to park at the Royal Oak (on the left as you enter the village on the A354), cross the road and walk up Chapel Street towards the Church and cemetery.  It isn't yet confirmed but it may be possible to park in the field next to the cemetery, which would be more helpful for those who are less mobile.   UPDATED:  It is confirmed that parking will be possible in the field next to the cemetery.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Alison's "Three Changes of Mind"

I have only just become aware of a video recording of Alison's last major presentation - in New Zealand at a conference of Family Life International in October 2009.

The presentation describes how Alison a) changed her mind from being pro-abortion to defending unborn children, b) became a Catholic after having been an atheist, and c) found meaning in life and a personal reason for being opposed to euthanasia/assisted suicide after a 10 year period of 'wanting to die' which included suicide attempts.

What isn't revealed by this video is that just one hour beforehand Alison had been in bed, very unwell, with apparently no chance of being able to get up let alone to deliver this presentation.  She had suggested that I might have to read it for her.  Yet somehow, as on many other occasions, Alison found the reserves of energy to get up and do what she had to do without fuss and with genuine delight and love for the people she met.  (And then she collapsed again afterwards.)

For me, much of Alison's greatness - and I think it is an exceptional and extraordinary greatness - comes from the suffering that she lovingly bore.  The suffering was observed by some but hidden from most people.  Much of her greatness lay in suffering - in the extreme - and yet being able to say (as she does in the video):

"I honestly do believe that sufferings are a share in the sufferings of Our Lord himself and therefore the greatest privilege possible in the world we live in."
How many people have suffered as much as Alison and regarded it as "the greatest privilege possible in the world"?


Francis Phillips has written a very fitting obituary for Alison in the Catholic Herald for which much gratitude is due.

Obituary: Alison Davis

Alison Davis, who for 30 years was the representative of the SPUC disability group, No Less Human, was born on January 8, 1955. She died on December 3, 2013
By on Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Alison Davis
Alison Davis was born with spina bifida. She later developed conditions including osteoporosis, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Coping with these permanently disabling and painful conditions dominated but did not define her life. Indeed, they led her to champion the rights of the vulnerable, the disabled and the unborn, first as an atheist and then as a Catholic.

Her early adult life was marked by a determination to live as normal a life as possible, despite having to use a wheelchair. She studied sociology at university, where she stopped believing in God. Writing about this period of her life in a paper she delivered to a New Zealand Family Life International Conference in 2009 she was honest: “It was largely because I wanted to live a lifestyle I knew was incompatible with the Christian faith.” She married young, in 1975, but after ten years in which she “tried very hard to find happiness without God”, the marriage failed.

At university Alison had strongly supported a woman’s right to choose abortion but her attitude changed after she read of the case of a baby girl, Louise, born in 1979 with the same disabilities as hers, who had been deliberately starved and dehydrated to death by Dr Donald Garrow of the High Wycombe Hospital. The case, which received wide publicity at the time, shocked her to the core.

In 1981 the Guardian published a letter in which she criticised the killing of newborn disabled babies. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) contacted her and argued that killing the newborn disabled was a consequence of killing the unborn. Alison was reluctant to give weight to SPUC’s arguments but within a couple of years she accepted them and became pro-life. From 1983 Alison worked full-time for SPUC’s newly developed Handicap Division (its name was later changed to No Less Human), for disabled people as well as their families and carers, and became a major commentator on anti-life policies which discriminated against disabled people.

John Smeaton, chief executive of SPUC, writes that “In spite of serious illness [Alison] continued to write, publish and broadcast on the eugenic nature of the Abortion Act and on healthcare and government policies, including major interviews on BBC’s Newsnight, the World Service’s Heart and Soul: Choosing Life series and leading letters in the national newspapers.”

In 1985 her marriage ended and in the following years a number of serious personal difficulties resulted in her making several suicide attempts. Yet paradoxically, she also started to search for religious belief. Having studied other world faiths, she turned to the Bible. “I began to think it could just be true,” she wrote. In 1986 she went to Scotland to stay with the prominent pro-life priest, Fr James Morrow of Humanae Vitae House in Braemar. He taught her to say the Rosary and she attended Mass in his chapel.

Yet the road to the Church was not easy and Alison still struggled to find meaning in life. Joining a pilgrimage to Lourdes she began to understand that she and the other sick people there were very much loved by God in their suffering. In 1987 she met Colin Harte who was working for SPUC. From 1989 he was her devoted companion and carer for the rest of her life; indeed, it was Alison’s conviction that pro-lifers should not compromise and exclude disabled babies in attempts to lower the abortion upper limit (as happened with David Alton’s 1987-88 Bill) that led Harte to question the whole basis of incremental legislation and to write his own book on the subject, Changing Unjust Laws Justly; Pro-Life Solidarity with the Last and the Least (2005).

During a second pilgrimage to Lourdes Alison learned for the first time that suffering need not be wasted; it can be offered up to God on behalf of others. She became increasingly drawn to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Finally, on Easter Sunday, 31 March 1991, she was received into the Church.

Although Alison knew she had “come home”, being a Catholic brought its own difficulties. She discovered some churches couldn’t accommodate wheelchair users and she sometimes experienced an acute sense of rejection. She learnt that her Faith would not remove the sorrows of life but that it does provide the grace and strength necessary to live with them. A visit to Calcutta over Christmas in 1991, and witnessing the love a pavement-dwelling family had for their tiny baby, brought home to her the infinite value of each human being created by God.

In 1995, with Colin’s help, she set up a charity for disabled children in South India. It gave her a sense of purpose in life that radically transformed the ensuing years. This changed perspective taught her the danger of euthanasia, which encourages people to make ultimate choices at a low point in their lives, on the assumption that it will never change for the better.

As someone who lived a life of considerable suffering, Alison often spoke of the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ, not merely as a privilege but as “the greatest privilege in the world.” Shortly before her death Colin Harte wrote, “Alison frequently heard it said after someone had died, ‘At least his (or her) suffering is now over.’ She asked me several times not to let anyone say that after she died, because she felt it diminished the particular gift she had to offer God. The Church provides a beautiful and profound teaching on suffering, but for many Catholics there is little understanding or appreciation of it. Alison’s life of intense suffering – physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual – is an exceptional witness to the privilege and dignity of suffering in union with Christ.”

May she rest in peace

Funeral information

Holy Trinity RC Church, Dorchester
Alison's Requiem Mass will be on Friday 13 December at 12 noon at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on High West Street in Dorchester, Dorset.

Her body will be received into the Church the previous evening, Thursday 12 December, at 4.30pm.   There will be Holy Mass at 5.30pm.  Before the Mass and for a period afterwards there will be an opportunity to pray and (for those who wish) to view the body.

After the Requiem Mass on the Friday, Alison will be buried in the cemetery at St Andrew's Church, in Milborne St Andrew, the village 8 miles from Dorchester where she lived since 1987.

There will be refreshments afterwards at the Royal Oak pub in Milborne St Andrew, just a few minutes' walk from the cemetery.  All are welcome.

Several people have asked whether there are any special arrangements with regard to flowers or donations in memory of Alison.

There will be no organised collection of donations.   Those who wish to make a donation in Alison's memory are asked to choose a suitable charity and to make their donation privately.

There is no expectation with regard to flowers.  However, if anyone wishes to demonstrate their love and affection for Alison with flowers they are free to do so.  It goes without saying that one's love and affection for Alison is not measured by the provision of flowers or by the scale of any flower offering that is given.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Date of funeral

Alison's Requiem Mass will on Friday 13 December at 12 noon at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dorchester, Dorset.  This will be followed by burial at Milborne St Andrew, the village 8 miles from Dorchester where Alison lived.

Further details about the funeral arrangements will be posted shortly.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Alison Davis 8 January 1955 - 3 December 2013

Ali died this morning at 8.40am at home.

God our Father,
by whose Son's death and resurrection we have been redeemed,
you are the glory of your faithful, the life of your saints:
have mercy on your servant Alison,
and as she professed her faith in the mystery of our resurrection,
so may she gain possession of eternal joy.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.
May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Funeral arrangements as well as information about the wider purpose of this blog will be posted here in due course.