A CAVALCADE of silver Rolls-Royces decorated with flags bearing photos of 10-year-old Traveller Paddy Cash escorted him through Christchurch to his funeral yesterday (Thursday).
The youngster, who died in February, was given a traditional send-off by around 250 mourners at a service held at St Joseph’s Church, Purewell.
Paddy’s small blue coffin was carefully taken from a Phantom VII hearse supplied by Nottinghamshire-based funeral directors Lyman. They also provided another three Rolls-Royce limousines.
Mourners, including small children, stood in the pouring rain as it was carried inside. Priest Father John Chadwick conducted the service which lasted more than an hour.
A booklet depicting Paddy on the front with angel wings along with more photos of him inside was handed to the congregation before it started.
On the back was a black-and-white photograph of Paddy with the message: “Rest in peace my lovely son from mummy, daddy, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts. Never forgotten, forever in our hearts.”
At the door of the church was a huge blue-and-white wreath with a picture of Paddy with dad Johnny and mum Annemarie. Inside were more wreaths, including a teddy bear.
After the service the Rolls-Royces, followed by dozens of cars carrying mourners, made their way to a service at Bournemouth Crematorium. Plans for a walking procession to St Joseph’s were cancelled due to the wet weather.
As reported in the A&T, ahead of the funeral pubs and restaurants in Christchurch, Highcliffe, New Milton and Pokesdown had closed on Wednesday evening with many remaining shut on Friday morning over fears of trouble.
They said they had been advised to close by East Dorset Pub Watch and the licensing authority, but there were few reports of any significant trouble.
Dorset Police said today: “We did have an appropriate police presence in the area to help facilitate the event. There were no reports of any disorder linked to the funeral.”
Instead, those attending the funeral had been “treated like royalty” at the four-star Christchurch Harbour Hotel, in Mudeford, the night before, according to Paddy’s grandfather, who declined to be named.
Many mourners arrived at the funeral holding umbrellas supplied by the hotel.
He said: “We were there all night and they could not have been nicer to us. The manager even served us himself. They welcomed us with open arms.
“We had heard about the pubs closing, which is a disgusting thing to do. We went to the hotel as some people were staying there and they said, ‘Of course you can have a drink here.’
“There was no trouble at all. We cannot thank them enough. They were fantastic to us.”
Speaking about his grandson he said: “He was a beautiful, beautiful boy. He had suffered a long illness and we are now just glad he is resting in peace.
“He was 10 years old. All we wanted to do was give him a lovely send-off. What the pubs have done to us is very hurtful.”
Father Chadwick of St Joseph’s also revealed that the church’s voicemail had been “filled with terrible, abusive” messages by people angry that he had agreed to hold the funeral.
He said: “I haven’t listened to them yet, but I have been told they are very, very nasty. It’s horrible. Travellers are people, you would not be allowed to be so racist to other minorities.
“The mourners were very well behaved. They should not have to suffer this kind of abuse and neither should we.”