Faithful friend saddles up for Watton woman’s final journey

A cancer victim's beloved horse, who had been at her side for nearly 30 years, led her funeral procession through Watton yesterday.

Lisa Fletcher lost her long battle with the disease – which began in her liver and spread to her lungs and bones – last month.

The 38-year-old had lived and worked with horses her whole life and had competed with Polly, a part-bred Arab born on her mother's farm, at local shows.

So parents Shirley and Mike Fletcher knew it was only right their daughter should be accompanied on her final journey to St Mary's Church in Watton by the 29-year-old bright bay mare.

Leading a procession of four horses yesterday morning, Polly wore purple feathers on her head and had purple ribbons woven into her mane and tail.

Maverick, Polly's first foal, stood beside her and was similarly decorated.

Behind them were Kyra, whose rider was Lisa's sister Amanda, and Clogs.

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The coffin was also carried to the church in a horse-drawn hearse.

The procession, which included Mr and Mrs Fletcher travelling in a funeral car and a second hearse filled with floral tributes to the former Wayland High pupil, began at the family home in Watton.

It then made its way along Norwich Road and into Church Street where mourners – many wearing purple –stood in the church yard waiting to greet them.

Lisa and her two sisters Amanda and Rachel grew up around horses and, after finishing Wayland High School, she found work at a friend's riding stables.

At the age of 18, Lisa moved to Italy for a few years to work in a big livery and competition yard in Parma. She also worked at the ILPH at Snetterton.

'She was quite impulsive as well,' said Mrs Fletcher, speaking earlier this week.

'She went to Tenerife for a week's holiday and when she came back she said she had found a job out there and was going back a week later. She lived life to the full.'

Lisa was first diagnosed with liver cancer seven years ago and had a major operation to remove half the organ. At a routine check-up last May doctors found the cancer had spread to her lungs and her bones.

She initially had pins put in her right arm and left leg and later found she had to have one in her right leg as well.

Donations are being collected for Swaffham & Litcham Home Hospice Support or Marie Curie Cancer Care and may be sent c/o Breckland Funeral Services, 25 Norwich Road, Watton, IP25 6DA.