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Stars of motor racing turn out to honour Sir Stirling Moss at Westminster Abbey


More than 2000 people, including several Formula 1 world champions and motor-racing industry stalwarts, attended a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Sir Stirling Moss OBE on May 8, 2024 at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Although it’s been four years since Sir Stirling passed away on April 12, 2020, following a long illness, it’s taken this long to finally celebrate his life, because he died during the early days of the Covid Lockdown. Sadly, his widow Lady Susie Moss then fell ill, and she subsequently passed away in March 2023.

The Westminster Abbey service was organised by Sir Stirling’s son, Stirling Elliot Moss, and daughter-in-law Helen Jane Moss. Among many famous faces attending were racers Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, Derek Bell and Stuart Graham, TT winner on two and four wheels. Others included F1’s Ross Brawn and Christian Horner, Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony, the son of Juan Manuel Fangio (who had flown from Argentina for the service), actor Rowan Atkinson, TV presenter Richard Hammond, athlete Sir Steve Redgrave, The Duke of Richmond, The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent.

Outside the Abbey, Mercedes-Benz had honoured Sir Stirling by displaying ‘722’, his 1955 Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. The car was joined by a few of the other machines he drove during his hugely varied career, including Jaguar XK120, Lotus 18, Maserati OSCA and the 1960 Goodwood TT-winning Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who opened the service with the Bidding:

“We gather to give thanks for the life and achievements of Sir Stirling Moss. We remember the competitor who was ever the gentleman. We recall his rare talent and courage; that compelling ability that made him excel on the race track. ‘Movement is tranquillity,’ he said, and he lived out a long life with an eager urgency. We grieve for our loss as we celebrate all that he gave us. Here we will pray for those family members and friends who feel that loss most deeply, and we will commend Stirling Moss to the God in whom we all have our beginning and our end.”

This was followed by a solemn procession down the central aisle of the Abbey, to present Sir Stirling’s famous racing helmet, his BRDC Gold Stars and his Monaco Grand Prix trophy (carried by Damon Hill) to the Dean.

Following this, Stirling Elliot Moss read from a personal letter referring to the BRDC Gold Stars, written to him by his father:

“The Stars, to me, symbolise all I ever wanted to achieve. Look at the Stars my son, and know you can do it, too. They will be different Stars, for something quite different, but just as important and precious – to us both – as mine. But take time out, also, to consider the helmet and be reminded that everything worth achieving comes at a cost. If you are lucky, you might never get the bill. But don’t bank on it. Before you start, be sure you are willing to pay the price. I was, and I did, and I have no regrets.”

Author and former F1 commentator Simon Taylor then read a stirring tribute to Sir Stirling, detailing not only the legendary racer’s achievements, but also his merits as a gentleman and a hero to so many. This was followed by the first Lesson, read by former racer Charles Shields. After further hymns, Sir Jackie Stewart took to the pulpit for a very personal tribute to his friend and hero Stirling Moss – and displayed the autograph he’d obtained from Sir Stirling as a young man at a race meeting in the Borders.

“There will never be another Stirling Moss,” he said. “He drove well, he presented himself well, he dressed well and he was just an amazing character. I don’t think in the history of the sport there has been somebody so well loved, and who is continued to be so well loved. It is wonderful for Great Britain to have a Briton that was as famous as this. He will never be forgotten.”

Sir Jackie also couldn’t resist pointing out that Stirling thought motor sport should be dangerous, and disagreed with Sir Jackie’s heartfelt safety campaigns in period. He also praised Stirling Elliot Moss several times for his endeavours in organising the Service of Thanksgiving for his father.

Then followed the second Lesson, read by the Duke of Richmond – better known to most as the founder of the Goodwood events – and readings by Derek Bell and the Right Reverend Anthony Ball, Canon in Residence. The Dean summed up by joking that although he’s overseen both the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation of HM King Charles III, it’s the time he spent on the roof of the Abbey with Tom Cruise that he is asked about the most – and that he suspects, in future, it will be this remarkable service for Sir Stirling Moss.

As the service ended at midday, and the guests filed out along the central aisle, the Abbey bells rang out and crowds filled the streets to view the cars on display. It was a fitting tribute to the UK’s greatest motor sport hero of all time.

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