A 30-year-old comedy lover who died suddenly was given a ‘triffic’ Del Boy send-off in a funeral dedicated to his favourite classic comedy.
In the first of its kind in Calderdale and West Yorkshire, a Only Fools and Horses themed hearse brought the streets of Siddal, Halifax, to a standstill, yesterday, as the hearse carrying John, made its way from Emotions funeral directors, past John’s childhood Jubilee Road home, to St Mark’s Church before the procession travelled to Park Wood crematorium in Elland.
Family and friends were shocked when father-of-two and Calderdale Royal Hospital nurse John Smith, was found dead at his Free School Lane, Halifax, apartment on August 26.
Since their son’s death, parents Brian, 56, and Janet, 54, say they have been living through “every parents worst nightmare” and the shock of the tragic news has left them feeling like they’ve “been hit by the Flying Scotsman.”
But, they wanted to give their son who is father to Alfie, 6, and Freya, 2, the send off he deserves so they booked the bright yellow hearse - adapted from the classic yellow Reliant Regal three-wheel made popular by Del and Rodney in the 1981-91 BBC One TV comedy.
Mr and Mrs Smith didn’t tell many people, including John’s sister Joanne, 26, about the arrangements they had made for the Only Fools and Horses hearse to carry their son’s coffin in a wish to bring a smile to the faces of John’s friends and family.
“He used to call me a plonker, when he was younger. He loved Del Boy and Rodney and knew all the lines. We wanted to give our son the best funeral we could,” said TJ Walsh bus driver Brian.
As the coffin left the church the Only Fools and Horses theme tune was played as well as music from his much-loved bands Coldplay and The Beatles.
On another lighter note, Leeds Leeds, Leeds Marching on Together was played as the congregation left the crematorium before heading to a wake at Siddal’s Ex-Servicemen’s Club.
“When we cleared his flat there was Beatles music so we thought that was appropriate and me and John are Leeds United supporters - I remember when we won the premiership in 1992 we were sat in the carpark at Elland Road listening to it on the radio,” said Brian.
Members of the congregation wore something purple to raise awareness for Epilepsy UK charity after John was diagnosed with the illness at the age of 25.
At the funeral, Calderdale Royal Hospital colleague, Leanne Grice, said: “John was like a big brother to us all. He always had a smile and cheered us up by giving out ‘free hugs’.”
Former colleague and friend, Becky Kelly, said: “He was the funniest person I know.”
As the Only Fools and Horses hearse approached one man said; “He’s gone out in style has our John,”
Emotions funeral director James Martin said: “I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s amazing. Traditional funerals are being done away with in celebration of life.”