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Norwich Big Issue seller spared 'pauper's funeral' by a kind-hearted family

PUBLISHED: 08:12 25 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:13 25 January 2019

Simon Thorndike.

Simon Thorndike.

A well-known Big Issue seller was spared a "pauper's funeral" after a kind-hearted family arranged to give him a loving send-off.

Simon Thorndike. Photo: Lewis HannamSimon Thorndike. Photo: Lewis Hannam

Simon Thorndike, 49, was due to be given a national assistance funeral following his death at Jewson Road in Norwich on October 2 last year.

The type of funeral takes place when a person dies and no one can be found to make arrangements for their body to be cremated or buried.

But thanks to Bernadette Fallon, her son Cameron Stubbs and another of Mr Thorndike’s friends, his wish to be cremated was fulfilled after they agreed to pay for the service.

Mrs Fallon, 41, of Wymondham, said her family decided to step in as Mr Thorndike had made a lasting impact on her son’s life.

Earlham Crematorium, Norwich.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Earlham Crematorium, Norwich. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The mum-of-six said: “Simon helped my son grow up a little bit, and as Cameron was going down the wrong path, Simon dragged him back.

“He was lovely, and would do the same for anyone else.”

She said her son, who is now aged 23, even named his daughter after Mr Thorndike’s two favourite flowers.

“He called her Lilly Rose,” Mrs Fallon added. “If you saw him, you would have never thought it, but he [Mr Thorndike] was big on gardening.

“He was such an intelligent man and could have gone so far in life.”

Following his death, Mrs Fallon and Mr Stubbs enquired about the funeral arrangements. They were told he would be given a pauper’s funeral as he had no assets.

“There was no way we were going to let that happen,” Mrs Fallon said. “He deserved so much better.

“We were told by one funeral company ‘unless you have £3,400 there is nothing we can do’.”

She said they eventually found Shayne Stork Family Funeral Services on Sprowston Road in Norwich, which organised for a direct cremation to be held.

The company also helped arrange a payment plan so Mrs Fallon did not have to pay up front.

She said: “We played two of Simon’s favourite songs by the Foo Fighters and said a couple of words during the service. It was very simple, but was still nice.

“Our plan is to take his ashes to Cornwall on the anniversary of his death, hire a fishing boat and scatter them at sea.

“Simon always used to post pictures of Cornwall on Facebook and he always talked about going in a fishing boat.”

The cremation took place at Earlham Crematorium in November last year.

An inquest opened into Mr Thorndike’s death on Wednesday.

The medical cause of death was given as respiratory depression, combined with heart disease and combined drug toxicity.

The full inquest will take place on June 17 in Norwich.

Paying tribute to Mr Thorndike following the inquest opening, Jim Graver, manager at The Big Issue in Norwich, said: “It is with great sadness that we hear of the death of Simon Thorndike, although Simon has not sold the Big Issue for many years now as he moved onto other things.

“We remember him as a friendly, lively and funny character who brought joy to all those that knew and worked with him.

“Simon sold the Big Issue in Norwich city centre for a number of years and was extremely popular with staff, other vendors and the public alike.

“Simon was big hearted, and was never without a smile on his face and a quick witted quip on his tongue.

“Simon’s enthusiasm for selling the magazine was very evident and he also assisted us with promoting our work through a number of radio, television and other media appearances.”

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