Traditional traveller send-off in Dereham

The final horse-drawn journey of a much-loved member of the travelling community brought market day shoppers to a standstill in Dereham this morning. (Friday)

Four splendid white horses, each decorated with black feathered plumes, interrupted the usual hubbub of the town as they pulled a gleaming carriage containing the coffin of Jean McConnachie, who died at the age of 87.

The sight of the traditional funeral cortege stopped many bystanders in their tracks as they watched a procession of more than 100 family and friends follow through the Market Place.

A lone piper played as the mourners filed into St Nicholas Church for a service led by the Rev Adrian Aubrey-Jones.

Among the floral tributes were one in the shape of a traditional gipsy caravan, and another simply forming the word 'Gran'.


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Mrs McConnachie lived in Lyng, near Norwich, although her family also has connections in Dereham. After the church service, she was buried in Dereham Cemetery, where two doves were released as a symbol of peace and love.

The Rev Aubrey-Jones said: 'Jean was 87 years old, she worked on the land and looked after her family. She was well-loved and there was clearly a lot of mourning for her.

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'This is the first time I have seen a traveller funeral in Dereham – they are very family-oriented people and have a love of horses, so this was a fitting way to arrive. The family lived in Lyng and they came all the way here by pony and trap. I was not surprised that people stopped to look – it was quite something.'

Mrs McConnachie is survived by seven children: Jimmy, Mary, Caroline, Jeanette, Charlotte, Jessie and Josie, as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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