Posted by Richard Rawlinson
Before they were arrested and charged with the murder of their six children in a petrol-fuelled arson fire in their Derby council house last month, Mick and Mary Philpott started planning a funeral at the Anglican Derby Cathedral.
With the tragedy making headline news, they chose this local landmark, rightly predicting a lot of public demand to attend. The couple also requested six double-horse-drawn hearses to carry the coffins, and expected to raise funding through public donations.
As it turns out, the Philpott parents are not allowed to attend the funeral of children, Duwayne, Jade, John, Jack, Jessie and Jayden, aged between 13 and five. As their trial continues, they will remain in custody without compassionate leave. People may be innocent until proven guilty but the police deemed the threat of lynching by vigilantes too great, and the children deserve a peaceful funeral.
But another twist in the story is that early reports naming Derby Cathedral as the funeral venue have now switched to a full requiem mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church on St Alkmund’s Way. It takes place at 11am on Friday, followed by a private burial at Nottingham Road cemetery.
The substantial St Mary’s Church is not their local church, although their local priest, Fr Alan Burbridge of St George’s Church, will be giving the mass. He baptised some of the children and is affiliated to their primary school so knew them personally. Fr Burbridge visited 13-year-old Duwayne in hospital, where he died of smoke inhalation two days after the fire.
Over £14,000 has been raised by volunteers who set up a fund to pay for the funeral and burials, including six horse-drawn carriages.
Editor’s note: the children’s funeral is today.
St Mary’s, Derby