For those who don’t know me, I taught Alison Shotokan Karate over the last twenty years. Michael and Ashleigh are aware that a long standing commitment has unfortunately prevented my attendance today and I would like to extend my sincere apologies to those present for not joining you in celebrating the life of Alison.

I am very fortunate to have shared one of Alison’s biggest loves – Karate. I instructed her week in and week out in excess of over two decades and during this time was able to gain a fleeting glimpse into the life of this lovely lady. Alison was enthusiastic, devoted and embraced the continual endeavour required in the world of martial arts . And I’m sure that you will also know what I mean when I say that she was at times, accidentally hilarious with a warm and understated eccentricity that made her so popular among our group.

However, it was during the Karate practice that Alison loved, that she sparred with her fellow black belts whilst secretly fighting the biggest battle of her life. Doing so with a dignified silence and courage that I imagine only few could ever match. Consequently I would like to announce that with the blessing of her family, the best overall competitor award at our annual Karate championships has been renamed as ‘The Alison Barker Fighting Spirit Trophy’.

I would like to close this short eulogy with the words of Oscar Wilde who said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” I think from looking around you today and seeing how much Alison will be missed, it’s easy to see that she lived.

Thank you – Paul Herbert

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