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Hundreds flock to tiny Norfolk village for funeral of much-loved traveller Jessie

PUBLISHED: 18:30 27 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:16 28 February 2020

Jessie Mary Smith's picture is carried ready for the funeral service at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jessie Mary Smith's picture is carried ready for the funeral service at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The final horse-drawn journey of a much-loved member of the travelling community brought the small village of Lyng to a standstill.

Rev Helen Rengert leads the funeral service of Jessie Mary Smith at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYRev Helen Rengert leads the funeral service of Jessie Mary Smith at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

On what started as a dark and rainy day, the sun came out for the funeral of Jessie Mary Smith on February 27, who died at the age of 70.

Hundreds of people travelled across the country gathered outside the family home, on The Common, where two open back trucks full of colourful flowers along with a beautiful black and white horse waited outside.

A horse and cart pulled a carriage containing the coffin of Mrs Smith to St Margaret's Church.

Among the floral tributes were one in the shape of a wellington boot, two in the shape of dogs, with another simply forming the word "mum."

Mourners file into church for the funeral of Jessie Mary Smith at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYMourners file into church for the funeral of Jessie Mary Smith at Lyng. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mrs Smith was born and spent lots of time in Worcester, and would also spend the summers strawberry picking in Wisbech and other times of the year in Wales, Scotland and Grantham.

The service was led by The Rev Helen Rengert, who spoke of the high spirits of the travelling community.

She said: "The way you have all gathered together while Jessie was dying was inspiring.

"You come together in the best and worst of times and I am honoured to be taking this service today."

The funeral procession through Lyng of Jessie Mary Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe funeral procession through Lyng of Jessie Mary Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Songs by Elvis were played throughout the ceremony, as Mrs Smith loved his music and owned every album on vinyl.

Other tributes included Mrs Smith's niece, Hannah, singing Dancing in the Sky along with 
her other nieces Lorna, Maria 
and Jeanie also paying their respects.

The service spoke of Mrs Smith's love for animals and how she would care for birds, rabbits and mice that needed a helping hand.

The service also spoke of her struggles after the death of her daughter, Victoria. The Rev Rengert said: "She lost her faith but she never lost her ability to love."

The funeral procession through Lyng of Jessie Mary Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe funeral procession through Lyng of Jessie Mary Smith. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

After the church service Mrs Smith was buried behind Lyng Village Hall, next to her daughter, Victoria.

Mrs Smith is survived by sons Freddie and Charlie and her sisters Mary, Caroline, Jeanette and Josie and her sisters.


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