Posted: 01.05.20 at 10:46 by Nick Hudson
ATHERSTONE gave one of its finest daughters with a “heart of gold” an NHS-style hero’s salute on her last journey through the town.
Mourners, forced through coronavirus restrictions to gather on street corners rather than at her funeral service, broke into applause as she left her Queens Road home for the final time yesterday.
The cortege had been afforded all due solemnity as it passed through the silent streets with bystanders, still and some with heads bowed, paid their respects – also having to pay attention to social distancing regulations.
But at the home of the ever-smiling 76-year-old town matriarch whose family name will forever be associated with Atherstone’s centuries-old Ball Game, the dozens of friends and acquaintances wanted to give the mother-of-four a send off to remember.
As the funeral director walked in front of the hearse carrying a giant picture in the rear window of the “great lady” known as Auntie Jean to the kids of Kings Avenue, the assembled crowd clapped and waved their much-loved neighbour farewell.
The cortege carrying the ‘nan’ to 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, who died last month at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton, began its journey at funeral directors M G Evans & Sons in Long Street.
Flanked by nurses standing to attention, the hearse passed through Station Street, Woolpack Way, back into Long Street and onto Ratcliffe Road. From fire station onto Bank Road, it eventually drew up alongside her Queens Road home where she and her late husband Sam – who took a record-breaking dozen winning ribands in the Ball Game hey days of the 1960s and 70s – had lived for so many years.
The family, restricted to just 10 members for the service at Nuneaton Crematorium, were briefly reunited with their mum before the funeral director bowed his head, doffed his hat, turned on his heels and led the hearse out of the street.
When times are better, the family intends to hold a ‘real’ celebration of Mrs Fulleylove’s enriching life on what would have been her 77th birthday, on July 30. A service at St Mary’s Atherstone is planned along with a get together at Atherstone Conservative Club.
Jane Mottram, one of Jean’s fellow workers at the Coventry Brace factory in Station Street, commented; “It was a lovely send-off under the circumstances.”
For now, the family members have to take comfort from a continuing stream of tributes.
Tony Cooper said: “She was a proper Atherstone lady.
“I had lots of respect for her and Sam . . . lovely, lovely people.”
Margaret Holland added: “RIP Jean, another bright star in the sky from the avenue.”
Maureen Hewitt said: “Jean has had a very happy life surrounded by friends and family but she’s back safely in Sam’s arms now. God bless Jean.”
Julie Tomkinson summed it up: “She was Aunty Jean to many of the Kings Avenue kids . . . a beautiful lady with a heart of gold.”
In these unprecedented times of turmoil caused by the silent enemy of coronavirus, there was no hiding the total love in which this ‘woman of the people’ was regarded.
RIP . . . to a proper Atherstone lady.
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