‘Spec­tac­u­lar’ send-off for Fort woman in horse-drawn hearse

The Oban Times - - Birth, Mar­riages & Death -

THE first of its kind in more than 60 years, a horse­drawn hearse made its way through Fort Wil­liam last Fri­day in what was de­scribed as a ‘spec­tac­u­lar send- off’ for a Lochaber lady.

Mother- of-three San­dra Gem­mell was just 36 when she died at the end of last month and on Fri­day April 7 a pri­vate ser­vice was held in St Mary’s Church, Fort Wil­liam, be­fore she was laid to rest at Glen Ne­vis ceme­tery.

It was at the re­quest of San­dra’s fam­ily to have the horse- drawn hearse as she was part of the trav­el­ling com­mu­nity.

The ser­vice was con­ducted by Fort Wil­liam funeral di­rec­tors John McLen­nan & Co. Speak­ing to the

Lochaber Times, di­rec­tor Scott Green­less said: ‘The ser­vice was the first of its kind in Lochaber for many years. The last one was prob­a­bly be­tween 60 and 80 years ago.

‘Of course, years ago they would have to use a horse and cart but it’s been a long time since that has hap­pened here.’

Scott said the horses, Spot and Toby, who be­long to Big­gar Shiels car­riages, were well be­haved on the two-mile jour­ney through town. He added: ‘They parked up at Glen Ne­vis ceme­tery and then the horses came through the town.’

And al­though the horses are used to busy roads and lots of traf­fic, Scott said the an­i­mals ‘man­aged very well’, and that driv­ers in the town were very pa­tient and re­spect­ful. ‘ We had a lovely trot through the town and up to Glen Ne­vis. The horses did well be­cause it can be quite tight through the ceme­tery.

‘It was a lovely ser­vice and a nice send- off for San­dra.’

Scott said he thinks he might see more horse­drawn pro­ces­sions in Fort Wil­liam now peo­ple have seen it can be done. ‘Peo­ple of­ten think, “We are in Fort Wil­liam – we can’t have that”, but if that’s what peo­ple want or fam­i­lies wish for, then they can. I have no doubt we will have more be­cause it re­ally is beau­ti­ful.’

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