Perfect funeral was destroyed

GRIEVING family members of a dead Ipswich woman today told how her dying wishes for the perfect funeral were destroyed in a freak accident.

GRIEVING family members of a dead Ipswich woman today told how her dying wishes for the perfect funeral were destroyed in a freak accident.

As revealed previously in The Evening Star, relatives watched in horror as the horse-drawn carriage carrying the body of Caroline Thompson overturned, spilling her coffin on to the street.

Her family said the 79-year-old Romany gypsy, of Antrim Road, Ipswich, knew she was dying during a three-year battle with cancer and had spent all her savings on preparing her funeral.

But Wednesday's catastrophe left Mrs Thompson's coffin in tatters and meant she could not be buried in the one she had chosen.

Most of the flowers which were carried on the back of the hearse and destined for the church were ruined.

And the drama also delayed the funeral at Bramford Church by two hours, causing hundreds of people from the gypsy community and even the vicar to leave because they thought the service had been cancelled.

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After a devastating two days, the family have now spoken of the drama and claimed the driver of the hearse “lost control” of the horses.

Mrs Thompson's grandson, Jay, 33, claimed: “The hearse driver was shouting at the top of his voice and pulling on the reins. The horses were going very fast. The noise was thunderous.”

He added the hearse collided with a parked car at the junction of Henniker Road and Adair Road and left its contents on the road.

Some relatives were even faced with the macabre sight of Mrs Thompson's arm protruding from her coffin, the shock of which caused daughter-in-law Glenys Thompson to collapse.

Mrs Thompson said: “I was crying at what I had seen and I fell against the fence.”

Jay Thompson added: “It was horrible. If you wanted to make a horror movie you wouldn't put that in it.”

Hearse driver Mike Daniel, owner of Horse Drawn Promotions, once again apologised for the distress caused by the accident.

He said: “It was a tragic accident and must have been terrible for the family. That is where my sympathy lies.”

Do you have any kind words for the family? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

CAROLINE Thompson was a popular member of the gypsy community in Ipswich, where she had lived most of her life.

The 79-year-old spoke the Romany language and lived by the gypsy ideals to the end.

Her grandson, Jay Thompson, said: “When I was a boy she would take me strawberry picking. That is what Romanies do, they work. She didn't stop working until she was 78. She was loved by all.”

She was married to Tom Thompson, who died nine years ago, and has seven children and many grandchildren.

Hundreds from the community had gathered to pay their respects at Bramford Church for her funeral on Wednesday. She was buried at a cemetery in Bramford Road.

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