A funeral for Major Graeme Large MBE ED will be held at St John’s Cathedral on 27 April from 1 to 2pm. Graeme was the kind of bloke who was into just about everything: Royal Hong Kong Regiment, finance director of the University of Hong Kong, motorcycling and the Macau Grand Prix, cross-country running with the Hash House Harriers, sailing his fabled yacht Ariki and Freemasonry at the highest rank.
Energetically sociable in his younger years, Graeme served with distinction in every field he entered. He was mildly eccentric, living on Ariki, only 27ft long, and at Ko Lau Wan, one of the most isolated spots in north Sai Kung, for several days a week. Treasurer for some years at the Hebe Haven Yacht Club, he was a well-known and much liked character about town.
Graeme died on April 8 at age 89. In recent years dementia had set in, he often didn’t recognise friends and he was cared for by Jennifer. On 26 April from 3 to 9pm a vigil will he held for Graeme at Hong Kong Funeral Home. He will be lying in his Royal Hong Kong Regiment Major’s uniform and wearing a Hong Kong University tie. After the service in the establishment citadel, St John’s Cathedral, on 27 April, where hundreds of his friends and colleagues will be respectfully present, Graeme will be cremated at Cape Collinson.
He packed so much into his life, it is difficult to summarise, but let’s try:
FAMILY: He married May and they had a son William. The family home is at Pok Fu Lam.
UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG: Graeme was in charge of the Bursar’s Office, managing the university’s finances until retirement when he was awarded an honorary degree.
ROYAL HONG KONG REGIMENT: He retired as a Major in 1989 and was awarded an MBE for his services to the Regiment. Graeme joined it in 1962, rising quickly through the ranks to Captain. In 1972 he was promoted to Major, commanding D Squadron for three years.
FREEMASONRY: Graeme was one of the highest ranking Masons at Zetland Hall, One Kennedy Road, and internationally. He was an active member of several Lodges.
HASH HOUSE HARRIERS: In his younger years Graeme bounded around the hills with the Hong Kong Hash House Harriers, the first Hash club in Hong Kong, and the Wanchai Hash House Harriers, which he preferred; it is mixed.
MOTORCYCLING: A keen rider, Graeme survived many accidents during cross-country races, requiring “repairs” to his legs. For many years he was a voluntary organiser and steward at the Macau Grand Prix.
SAILING AND ARIKI: This is one of the most famous yachts in Hong Kong. A 27ft wooden cutter, Ariki was built in 1939 at A King Shipyard, Causeway Bay, the only boat builder at the time. Ariki was bound for the USA when war broke out. Neglected, she sank in Hong Kong harbour. A New Zealander, Hector Forsyth, restored the boat and named it after the Maori word for leader. Ariki changed hands many times before purchase by Graeme. He had her renovated by wooden boat specialist Fan Kwei-sum. In later years Ariki and Graeme became fabled among Hong Kong sailors. They were more or less equally ancient and rickety. But they set off in all weathers in the Four Peaks Race and the annual excursion to Macau. Friends downing beers safe in clubs while the wind shrieked outside worried about Ariki and Graeme and the daft characters who had sailed with them. In his 70s Graeme sold Ariki to businessman Peter Man-pong, who had long coveted the boat since the day he first saw it in Sai Kung waters.
EARLY LIFE: Graeme was born in Didsbury, Manchester in 1929. He trained as an accountant and worked for one of the forerunners of PricewaterhouseCoopers in London and Singapore. For two years he lived in Ghana. Then he moved to the Bursar’s Office of HKU.
If you show up at St John’s Cathedral next Friday, you will see how respected and admired Graeme was – that’s if you can get in. The Cathedral will be packed.