Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Friends wear pink at funeral of inspirational Carlisle woman

Mourners wore pink to remember a woman with a heart of gold, whose bravery in the face of terminal illness proved an inspiration.

Sam Don photo
Sam Don

Family and friends of Sam Don set a Carlisle church ablaze with colour, as they gathered to celebrate her life after she lost her battle with cancer aged just 26.

Every pew in St Bede’s Church in Wigton Road was packed. Such was her popularity people that stood at the back and spilled out the door after coming to pay their final respects.

As the service closed, a spontaneous round of applause rang out as an emotional tribute was paid by two friends.

Sam died at Eden Valley Hospice in Carlisle on Monday July 28, just days after celebrating her birthday. She had been fighting cancer of her spine.

The tragedy triggered a flood of tributes on social media.

Even though she was gravely ill, Sam, from the Morton area of Carlisle, battled to raise funds for the ward at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital where she was treated for her cancer.

Hundreds gathered to say their last goodbyes at a ceremony yesterday.

Women wore pink dresses, tops and outfits while men work pink ties or shirts, with many gathering outside in Wigton Road and in the grounds of the church before the ceremony.

As the hearse arrived, wreaths spelling out Daughter and Sam’s name could be seen. A pink balloon tied to the car fluttered in the wind as everyone fell silent.

People comforted one another as the coffin was carried into a church lit up by sunshine streaming through the windows and the bright clothes of those present.

An order of service showed pictures of Sam in happy poses – an outfit covered in pink hearts was worn in one.

The song Halo, by Beyoncé, was played and Deacon John Constable, taking the service, spoke of “a young woman taken from us early in life”.

“We know that we will miss Sam,” he told those gathered. “She will never be forgotten.”

Just The Way You Are, by Bruno Mars, was played. Those present also sang the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Friends Jenny Hill and Donna Graham stood up to give their tribute to Sam, with Jenny telling everyone they were “all struggling to find the right words to say how we feel”.

In an address to Sam, Jenny added: “You have left a mark on everyone here. You have a heart of gold.

“You were an inspiration to everybody. A true fighter. Words can’t describe how proud each and every one of us are of you.”

Those gathered burst into applause following these words.

The song Diamonds, by Rihanna, rang out as the coffin was carried from the church to the waiting hearse. Traffic stopped in Wigton Road as the funeral procession left to go to Carlisle Cemetery.

Sam, a hairdresser, leaves her partner of eight years Stephen Douglas, 32, his daughters Lauren and Katie, her sisters Kate and Kellie and parents Maureen and Ken.


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