Chris Cowdrey paid a moving tribute to his boyhood "hero" at today’s service to honour the memory of Bob Woolmer.
A gathering of 200 at St John’s Wood Church - a short walk from Lord’s - heard addresses from Woolmer’s former team-mates Cowdrey and Dennis Amiss, as well Warwickshire vice-chairman Ian Metcalfe.
Among a cricketing who’s who in attendance to remember a man who gave so much of his life to the game he loved were England and Wales Cricket Board top brass David Collier and David Morgan.
Ashes winners Ashley Giles and Mike Gatting also heard Cowdrey’s heart-felt recollections of former England batsman and celebrated coach Woolmer.
It is almost six months ago that Woolmer died in a Kingston hotel room, in initially mysterious circumstances - since commuted to natural causes - hours after his Pakistan team had been knocked out of the World Cup.
Woolmer’s name therefore took on a global resonance, beyond cricket, only after his death - but it was his friendship, enduring boyish charm and devotion to the game over a lifetime which were celebrated today.
"Every day for Bob Woolmer was like a little boy going to his first ever match," Cowdrey conveyed as his opening and closing remark during a service led by the Reverend Dr Anders Bergquist.
He went on to recall revering Woolmer as one of the stars of a Kent team containing his own father and England great Colin.
"I would listen in wonder to my hero talking cricket," Cowdrey recalled from journeys to and from games.
Woolmer’s wife Gill and their sons Dale and Russell listened while former Warwickshire chief executive Amiss described a man always wearing "a boyish smile, with a twinkle in his eye - a schoolboy at heart" yet who became "the best modern cricket coach the game has produced".
Cowdrey noted the significance of Woolmer’s early years in South Africa - where he first arrived only on condition he could be placed at a disadvantaged club in a country then still in the grip of apartheid.
"It was perhaps in Cape Town that I realised that Bob Woolmer was the most honourable, spirited person that I have ever known," Cowdrey added. "It didn’t faze Bob that South Africa was in political turmoil, soldiers and police ever present - sounds of gunshots and the smell of tear gas - he just kept the children focused on their net sessions.
"Then those who didn’t have transport he would drive safely home. He was coach, groundsman, captain, mentor and coach driver.
"Bob Woolmer was an extraordinary man who treated everyone as equals."