Addio to Piera

Addio to Piera

Piera Costantini Scala, who so sadly took her life at her home town of Udine in Italy in September, was commemorated in London last month by a pair of deeply moving events attended by many from the club she loved and where she had been such a popular member.

On Saturday November 3 an austerely elegant Requiem Mass was given for Piera at the Brompton Oratory. As the priest emphasised, the Requiem is an occasion for remembrance, mourning and the commendation of the soul to posterity, full of respect and recognition for the fact of death, and its effect was powerful and salutary.

Here at the Serpentine we share a daily celebration of life, and at the following morning’s lakeside Sunday service, a large and colourful crowd reconvened, including Piera’s parents, her brother and many friends that had travelled from near and far to pay their respects, share their stories and particularly impressive for the many cold water neophytes, a pontoon parade and joyfully chilly splash.

Behind a table laden with the finest cakes the club has to offer, tributes were paid by our president Robin, by Fiona Gately who so kindly organized this magnificent occasion, and by Wojtek Wojcik who recited a poem he had composed in Piera’s honour. We were reminded of the time Piera diverted a Loch Ness ferry to cheer on a relay team, and of her penchant for bikini clad ice swimming, and as was fitting for a brilliant photographer, her family were presented with a framed picture of Piera in her frozen element, and beautiful personalised mugs by Ingrid Hunter-Coddington.

Piera’s ashes were mostly scattered amongst the sailboats in Trieste harbour but her spirit remains with us here at the Serpentine Club. Ours was a fitting celebration of a life fulfilled but too soon cut short, and as the club’s memorialists do such a splendid job of reminding us, Serpentine friends who have passed away are still with us in a very real sense when we swim in the lake today.

Many thanks again to all who took part, and all who brought such a sumptuous feast, to Fiona Gately and to Mike Harris for his photos here, so good they are published twice, and for his wise advice that anyone troubled in heart or mind will always find solace and the warmest embrace amongst friends at the club.