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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Traveller's colourful send-off brings Carlisle traffic to standstill

Shoppers stopped to stare as a traveller’s funeral procession made its way through Carlisle.

Traveller funeral photo
Funeral of traveller Frank Varey

The service for Frank Varey, 32, took place at Our Lady & St Joseph’s church, in Warwick Road, yesterday lunchtime.

About 250 people were inside the church for the requiem mass, but, as is tradition in the travelling and gypsy communities, about 100 more men waited outside throughout the service.

Police were outside the church, to help direct traffic in the area.

The hearse which led the funeral procession was empty, as Mr Varey’s silver coffin was carried on an intricately decorated gold gilt trailer, pulled by a grey horse.

This was followed by a second horse-drawn trailer, which was filled with flowers. The ornate displays included a throne and the word brother.

At least 50 men, clad in dark suits, marched five or six abreast along the road behind the flowers and were in turn followed by the cars carrying the women and other family members.

Behind these vehicles was a flat-bed trailer, also filled with flowers ranging from traditional displays to those in the shape of a beer bottle.

The procession brought traffic – both on the roads and the footpaths – to a standstill, as it travelled from the church to Carlisle Cemetery, where Mr Varey was buried.

Mr Varey, from Lancashire, died in Dunstable Hospital, Luton, on July 7, leaving behind his wife Louise – known as Loulou – and son Frankie James.

While none of his family lives in the area, it is understood the church was chosen because of a “strong family association”. He was buried in the traveller part of the cemetery, where other family members are also understood to have been laid to rest.

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