Mourners ignored lockdown restrictions to take to the streets and offer their farewell to a much-loved grandmother of the traveller community today as the nation entered its second national lockdown.
Family and friends congregated outside St Cuthbert’s Church in Stockton-on-Tees today to pay their respects to Honor Francis, 63, who died on October 23 following an illness.
The scenes came as the UK entered its second national lockdown today amid a rise in coronavirus cases across the UK.
Following the service Ms Francis’ daughter, Claire Bousfield, 38, described how the pandemic would not stop her family from celebrating her mother’s life.
She told Teesside Live: ‘Covid can kiss my backend, I’m giving my mum the send-off she deserves. I want her to go out like the Queen. She was our queen.’
Members of the traveller community paid their respects to Honor Francis, 63, who died on October 23 following an illness
Mourners gathered outside St Cuthbert’s Church in Stockton-on-Tees today to pay their respects to the grandmother
People arrive to the funeral service as the UK enters its second national lockdown today
Ms Bousfield went on to explain that guests were made to adhere to the coronavirus rules and only 30 people were allowed inside the church.
During her life, Ms Francis, who was born in Leeds but later moved to Stockton when she was 13, held a number of roles including working as a care assistant and also helping families and children for social services.
Her daughter went on to describe how she was left overwhelmed by the number of messages and tributes from the traveller community.
She added: ‘I knew my mum was well-known but I didn’t realise just how well-known. Everybody knew her and everybody loved her.
‘She came from a big travelling family – the Francis’ and the Lees and the Tyers.’
Prior to the service a Facebook page was set up for Ms Francis by her daughter and members of the community were asked to ‘wear a splash of colour’ for the funeral service.
The message read: ‘Honor Francis (my beautiful mother) will go on her final journey on THURSDAY 5TH NOVEMBER 2020.
Mourners, including members of the traveller community, stand outside the church in Stock-on-Tees
Flowers and tributes are laid outside for the much-loved grandmother who died following an illness
Family and friends gather outside to pay tribute to the grandmother on the day that second national lockdown comes into force
Prior to the service a Facebook page was set up for Ms Francis by her daughter in memory of her ‘beautiful mother’
‘Can everyone wear a splash of colour in memory of my mam she loved all colours.
‘Please note due to restrictions there is only 30 and a small plus allowed in the church but outside of the church there is no restrictions and we are putting speakers outside so you can all hear the service.
‘Wear your masks and keep your distance and then we are doing what we are meant to be.
‘When my mam arrives at church please don’t stand silent can you all clap for her? She would love that. Hope to see you soon.’
The scenes come after Boris Johnson was catapulted into announcing a total four-week shutdown for England from Thursday until December 2 amid a rise in cases across the nation.
Earlier today, figures from Public Health England showed coronavirus infection rates had fallen among the under-40s last week but continued to rise in older people.
In its weekly report, PHE claimed per-person cases plummeted by a fifth (21 per cent) in teenagers during half term, while infections also declined among schoolchildren and people in their 20s.
Infections continued to rise in middle-aged and elderly adults, however, with the biggest increase among people in their 60s, whose cases grew by six per cent.
Although the second wave began with most infections happening among children and students, it has now penetrated older groups and led to surges in hospital admissions and fatalities.
PHE’s report also noted that test positivity – the proportion of tests that have positive results – rose last week to almost one in 10.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson appealed for Tories to back his coronavirus lockdown and told his Cabinet that the draconian month-long restrictions in England were essential to avoid ‘fatalities running in the thousands’.
He said the R rate was currently ‘only just above one’, but acting to reduce it would give more space to deploy mass testing, new treatments and make progress on a vaccine.