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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Cumbrian digger driver's final wish granted - to be taken to his funeral by JCB

His skill at the controls of a JCB digger was legendary during his lifetime.

Des Young funeral photo
Mr Young's coffin is carried by a digger

So it was entirely fitting that 64-year-old Corby Hill man Des Young should be granted his dying wish – to be carried to his final resting place by the machine he so loved.

When doctors told him he was terminally ill with cancer, Des faced the prospect of his own death with courage and presence of mind.

He was determined to make his passing as bearable as he could for his family – including his daughters Andrea Bowe, 38, and Stephanie Marshall, 35, his five grandchildren and former wife, 59-year-old Linda.

He also resolved to leave this world with help from one of the machines that had kept him so happily employed since he was a young man in his 20s.

That final wish was granted yesterday thanks to the efforts of Carlisle funeral director John Walker and some of Des’s old work colleagues.

Watched by grieving friends and relatives, Des’s coffin was gently carried on the forks of a JCB digger to the entrance of Carlisle Crematorium.

“He loved driving his digger and he was brilliant at it,” said mum-of-three Stephanie.

“They’re such powerful machines and he loved working with them: he always had a reputation as somebody who was good with them.

“He was so good with them he could make them dance.

“My dad started his own business driving his digger 15 years ago and he just loved going to work.”

Des became ill in April but despite chemotherapy sessions doctors had to tell him he could not be cured. It was then that Des began quietly to make his plans, organising a holiday with his family to Legoland in Windsor and secretly organising his final journey.

He contacted Carlisle funeral director John Walker – an old school pal – and asked him to sort it all out.

Stephanie added: “Dad was loving, reliable, loyal, generous, strong, and very, very brave. When he was in a lot of pain near the end, he didn’t complain – he just said he was uncomfortable.

“He just got on with it.

“When he said he wanted to be taken to the crematorium on a digger I wasn’t at all surprised, knowing how much he loved them. We arranged for flowers to be put on the JCB and having his funeral this way was entirely right.”

John Walker recalled the day a few months ago when Des walked into his Wigton Road premises. He said: “I grew up with Des in Kirkbride – he was always a brilliant person.

“He just called in one day and asked me how I was and then said he had a bit of a problem. He told me he had cancer and there was no way back for him. He wanted to travel his last few hundred yards on a digger so I told him to leave it with me.”

Des passed away at Eden Valley Hospice on Thursday, September 23 and his funeral service was held yesterday afternoon. The digger was provided by Scot JCB in Kingstown , for whom he often worked, and was driven by former colleague Robert Smith.

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