Fleetwood pays respects to Doreen Lofthouse on day of funeral
They gathered in Fleetwood to pay their last respects as the funeral cortege of businesswoman and benefactor Doreen Lofthouse OBE passed through the town today.
As the hearse made its way to St Peter's Church for her funeral at 11am, people stood by the roadside, some of them in silence, some to applaud.
Mrs Lofthouse, who died on Tuesday March 30, aged 91, was much more than a highly successful entrepreneur who helped turn the Fisherman's Friend lozenge into a global brand for her family firm Lofthouse of Fleetwood.
Over a period of several decades, she donated large sums of money to important projects in the town, those she believed would benefit the town and its people for years to come, whether that be a lifeboat, the Mount park and pavilion, Fleetwood Hospital and many others.
The Fisherman's Friend factory, on Copse Road, has been one of the most important employers in the town for generations.
As the cortege made its way down Copse Road towards the factory, nearby workmen in fluorescent jackets took off their hard hats and stood by the road to quietly watch it drive past.
Outside the factory a long line of employees, many dressed in their immaculate white work clothes, paid silent tribute to their former boss.
Some of the people gathered spontaneously applauded the hearse and the and lovely floral arrangements on the coffin, included one bearing the words 'Mrs L' and a huge bouquet of red and white roses.
Among those who clapped as the vehicle passed was Christine Taylor, 76, of nearby Heathfield Road, who said: "I worked for Mrs Lofthouse for 28 years and she was brilliant. She still is.
"She's done a heck of a lot for this town, helping out schools, paying for the hospital and the Mount.
"I wanted to be here today to do this."
The hearse was followed by Doreen's son Duncan and his wife Linda in a black limousine and other family members in a third car.
As the cortege moved on into the town centre towards the church, it took a detour down London Street to the famous Mount pavilion and park, where Mrs Lofthouse had donated £1million of her own money towards a full restoration project.
A crowd was waiting for the procession to return to the top of London Street and once again they applauded the hearse.
Among them were Fleetwood friends Wendy Taylor, 53, Chris Hague, 61 and Chris Howlett, 57, who were on an early lunchbreak from their work at the Mount View medical centre on Dock Street.
Wendy, of North Street, said: "Mrs Lofthouse just put such a lot into Fleetwood and she was a local girl, she grew up here and loved this town."
Chris Hague, of Winfield Avenue, said: "A lot of people in this town still have relatives who work at Fisherman's Friend - and they are well looked after too."
And Chris Howlett, of Victoria Street, said: "We all wanted to take our break early so we could do this. She put Fleetwood on the map."
The cortege was then joined by clergy from nearby St Peter's Church, including Father John Hall who was to conduct the funeral, and six of them walked ahead of the hearse and led it to the church.
As the coffin was taken out carried to the church, there was more spontaneous applause.
Among the crowd which gathered were Tom Tate, 82, and wife Patricia, 80, who had travelled into Fleetwood from their home on Eastpines Drive, Anchorsholme, specially to pay their respects.
Tom said: "She did such a lot for Fleetwood and we have a lot of friends from this town, we just wanted to be here."
In the church, mourners entered to the stirring sound of legendary tenor Mario Lanza singing in a recording of 'I'll Walk with God'.
Mrs Lofthouse's daughter-in-law Linda gave a reading from chapter 13 of the Corinthians, followed by the singing of a hym, 'The King of Love my Shepherd Is'.
Canon Alf Hayes, of the town's St Wulstan's RC Church, gave a reading of St Mathew 5 1-12, followed by an address from Canon John Hall and a moving eulogy by Doreen's son, Duncan.
St Peter's choristers then gave beautiful renditions of Morning Has Broken and then Song of Farewell, between prayers led by Father Michael Murphy.
Finally there was a reading of a poem, 'She is gone'.
Doreen Lofthouse may be gone, but she will never be forgotten