Organisers of an annual walk held to pay tribute to the difficult journey made by mourners in Nottinghamshire 150 years ago say this year’s event will be held in memory of one of the event’s biggest supporters.
The Brinsley Coffin Walk, which recreates the trek undertaken by 19th Century families who had to travel to the neighbouring village to bury their dead, is taking place again on July 28.
It has been held every year for the past 12 years after it was first staged to demonstrate how hard life was for grieving villagers who had to carry their loved ones’ coffins across the fields to St Mary’s Church in Greasley, three miles away, because the village did not have its own church.
The tradition stopped in 1861 when St James The Great Church in Brinsley finally opened, but the journey was revived by Brinsley parishioner and historian Stan Smith to demonstrate how hard life was for villagers in days gone by.
For the past four years, mourners have carried a full-size coffin made by Kirkby-in-Ashfield coffin manufacturer Steve Soult Limited, led by a real-life funeral director, in the shape of Joanne Hutsby, a partner in Eastwood-based Gillott’s Funeral Directors.
Both Steve Soult Ltd and Gillotts are taking part in the walk again but this time a familiar face will be missing – that of Doreen Lockett, a much-loved historian and parishioner in Greasley, who performed a symbolic service in St Mary’s church graveyard every year but died at the end of last year.
Joanne said: “Doreen was a wonderful supporter of the walk and was so proud of the tradition and the history associated with it. The walk is hard, and she was always a welcome site when we arrived at the churchyard in Greasley.
“Her role was to conduct a short symbolic service like the vicar at St Mary’s would have done 150 years ago, after which she would serve us all some much-appreciated tea, coffee and biscuits.
“Everybody associated with the walk is very sad that she won’t be there to perform the same duties for us this year, which is why we want to hold the event in her memory.
“We haven’t decided who will step into her role, but they have big shoes to fill.”
Doreen, 74, who was also a parishioner at Newthorpe Baptist Church, collapsed whilst out shopping in Eastwood and was buried at St Mary’s in November last year.
The coffin walk will start at St James The Great Church, Church Lane, at 9.30am on July 28, ending at St Mary’s Church, Greasley, and it is free to take part.
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