Grieving mother’s shock after daughter’s ‘wake’ is cancelled by pub the day before the funeral

Annie Smith with her daughters Miranda (left) and Olivia. Picture: Sara Lock

Annie Smith with her daughters Miranda (left) and Olivia. Picture: Sara Lock - Credit: Sara Lock

A grieving mother was left in the lurch after a pub cancelled a gathering - which she described as a wake - with no explanation the day before her daughter's funeral.

The Earlham pub told Annie Smith's family her 'wake' had to be cancelled the day before her funeral.

The Earlham pub told Annie Smith's family her 'wake' had to be cancelled the day before her funeral. Picture: Sara Lock - Credit: Sara Lock

But the pub, The Earlham, in Norwich, said no formal booking was made and so the arrangement was not treated as a wake but simply a gathering for drinks after a funeral.

Annabel 'Annie' Smith, of Press Lane, Norwich, died from a lung infection aged 53 on Sunday, March 3 after falling ill just three weeks prior.

Her mother, Sara Lock, 77, of Muriel Road, said: 'Towards the end she was not coping with anything but she never let on,' said Ms Lock. 'Whenever I saw her she was cheerful.

'It's devastating, she was only 53.'

The Earlham pub. Picture: Archant Library

The Earlham pub. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Earlham Arms

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Ms Lock and her youngest daughter Katie West, 37, made arrangements for the funeral service to be held at Earlham Crematorium on Monday, April 1, and for a gathering, which they described as a wake, to take place just a 10-minute walk down the road at The Earlham pub.

Ms Lock said it was an informal arrangement for light refreshments with no catering, but she told guests they could order food from the pub. Details of the drinks gathering were printed on the funeral service sheet.

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But on Mother's Day, Sunday, March 31, the day before the funeral, Ms Lock and her family were left in shock after they received a text message from the pub in the evening stating the drinks arrangement could no longer go ahead.

Ms Lock said: 'I am probably the most calm and controlled person but I went into melt down. I couldn't deal with this, I was already dealing with a daughter dying I couldn't do this as well.'

A spokesman from The Earlham said the pub was closed on Monday, April 1, for maintenance and refurbishment works which were arranged on Wednesday, March 27.

The spokesman said she had tried to call Ms West's mobile number four times since March 27 but was unable to leave a voicemail, and so she left a text message on Sunday night.

'I tried to ring them in the week prior because I was saying to my colleague 'I'm stressed, I can't get in touch with them', and they suggested I send a text,' she said.

But she added: 'As far as we were concerned they were just having drinks.'

When asked whether she knew the gathering was following a funeral, she said yes, adding: 'I tried my best to get in touch with them.'

Ms Lock said no explanation was given for why the arrangement was cancelled but luckily a wake was held at the Oak Tree, in Ipswich Road instead.

'I think at the very least they should apologise,' said Ms Lock. 'It's not an easy time and they have added a layer of fraught.'

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