This afternoon we attended the funeral of Wayne Stansfield. He wasn't a personal friend, but he was our butcher and someone who, in that capacity, we have got to know very well, and like, very much, over the last seven and a half years of living here.
He was tragically killed on March 15th and his death shocked the whole town to it's core and the feeling of genuine grief and mourning was palpable within Todmorden in the days that followed.
Many people took flowers to the railings next to the family shop where he worked. We thought of taking flowers in, but it was Jon who suggested I use one of the photographs I had taken and used on the blog, and turn it into a card for the family, so that is what we did. It seemed the best way to convey how sad and shocked and sorry we were and also to give the photograph I'd taken of this lovely chap and his lovely brother in typical work mode back to his family.
So today, we stood alongside hundreds of others outside St Mary's - people spread not just throughout the churchyard but lined the opposite street and even stood outside the town hall, all paying our respects and standing in support for the family and the memory of a man who was at the very heart of this little market town.
I heard most of the service, car noise notwithstanding, relayed through speakers, including a eulogy from his best friend and a history of his life from the cleric, then Annie's Song by John Denver played clear as a bell through the tannoy and caught me with a huge lump in my throat, and the final rendition of Jerusalem, of which I heard the vicar say 'let's raise the roof' made me openly cry...there's something so stirring, so traditional and so...moving about it.
The family exited as they had entered - to applause, and we watched as the coffin was carried down the road to the hearse, it's beautiful, bright flowers - to match the spirit inside. We stood then, with our neighbour, on the main road by the town hall and Market, alongside what felt like the entire town, and we waited. When the hearse came in sight of us those at the opposite side crossed over and stopped traffic, the funeral director in black top hat was walking ahead of the cars, carrying a gold and black staff and with great, slow, dignity. The applause was deafening. As the courtege passed I saw a man lay his hand on the window by the coffin and say goodbye, saw the beautiful spray of flowers on the casket and alongside them, his striped butchers apron and white hat; the family following with what must have been a crushing mixture of pride and grief as they made their way out of Todmorden.