Former mayoress will never be forgotten

YOU will never be forgotten.That was the message from people who paid their last respects to former mayoress Grace Clarke.Barbados-born Mrs Clarke had lived in Ipswich since 1959 and was mayoress in 1998-99.

YOU will never be forgotten.

That was the message from people who paid their last respects to former mayoress Grace Clarke.

Barbados-born Mrs Clarke had lived in Ipswich since 1959 and was mayoress in 1998-99.

The 61-year-old became ill at the end of January and had been in hospital before she died on Monday, May 26.

A service celebrating her life took place at the St Mary-Le-Tower Church yesterday before she was buried at the Ipswich Lawn Cemetery.

Former National Hunt jockey Peter Lockwood led the funeral procession by riding a horse in front of a horse-drawn hearse. This is believed to be the first time this ceremony has happened in Suffolk.

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A floral hearse and three limousines made up the rest of the cortege that left the Clarke's family home in Eccles Road.

A procession of Ipswich dignitaries simultaneously made their way from the Town Hall to the church.

More than 200 people attended the service including current mayor Penny Breakwell, Ipswich MP Chris Mole and council leader Peter Gardiner.

In a tribute in a printed programme given out at the church, Grace's husband Former Ipswich mayor Hamil Clarke wrote his own poignant tribute to his wife. It read:

"For my wife. You have been my inspiration and guiding force behind all my achievements. You are irreplaceable in my life and I will always love you."

Another message said: "For our mother. We your children Valerie, Sonia and George and your granddaughter Amani are your continuing lights.

"We will love you always and your love and spirit will help to guide us. You will remain forever in our hearts.

"We are so saddened that we had to lose you. You fought to stay with us, those three and a half months were hard – we thank you for that time."

The service at St Mary-le-Tower was led by The Reverend Peter Townley and lasted just over an hour. It included a Psalm read by the current mayor and two poems read by close friends. The cortege then travelled past Christchurch Park to the burial at the Ipswich Lawn Cemetery in Cemetery Lane.

Mike Daniel was the coachman riding the horse-drawn hearse. He praised passers-by for the respect they showed and the police for their help.

He said: "The biggest thing is the respect of people stopping to see what is happening. The horses slow the whole occasion down and that is what the mourners wanted. The police and traffic wardens were great and helped us at roundabouts and that stopped the motorists getting frustrated."

A council spokesman said: "Grace was a very popular mayoress and a lovely lady. She did a lot for the town and everybody who lives here."

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