We are pleased to host a series of posts, in monthly instalments, recounting the adventures of Vintage Lorry Funerals. Here’s the first.
Vintage Lorry Funerals 1950 Leyland Beaver is sometimes chosen to carry the Deceased solely because of its colour.
The lorry was used in a Leeds Traveller’s Funeral for no other reason than its livery is mainly blue, the Deceased’s favourite colour. The blue and red livery has also created opportunities with Football Fans, whose teams play in similar colours. However, it was never perceived at the outset of the business that the lorry would be appropriate for Military Funerals until the first one in Gosport.
When the lorry was booked for a former Royal Marine’s Funeral, David Hall, who owns the lorry, was advised that a minimalistic approach should be adopted with only the coffin, covered by a Union Jack, on the flat-bed. David has developed securement techniques so that a flag can be held tight to the coffin in transit. On a cold November morning the Marine’s Widow walked 100 yards down a slippery path in the cemetery to shake David’s hand and to thank him for his part in a fitting send off. She said, ‘I knew that the colours would match’. However, it wasn’t until the photographs from the funeral were analysed did it become evident that the Oxford Blue and Post Office Red livery closely match the Blue and Red in the Union Jack.
Other Military funerals undertaken include that of a Commando in Eastleigh, where his comrades commented that the manoeuvring of the coffin, on and off the deck, was like a military procedure. An RAF family in Swindon chose the lorry not only because of its colour, but also due to the wing embellishments on the cab resembling RAF wings. Over the road from Hillier Funeral Service is a Primary School and loading the coffin coincided with the children’s diner time. A group of boys beckoned David, dressed in his black boiler-suit and black beret, across the road. One boy asked, ‘Was this soldier killed in Afghanistan?’ and a second boy, who was transfixed by David’s uniform whispered, ‘Are you part of the SAS?’