Saturday, April 04, 2009

Jade Goody's final farewell

Celebrity Jade Goody, who tragically died of cancer last month at the age of 27, was laid to rest today. Her funeral brought out thousands of fans who took to the streets as the hearse carrying her body made its way from Bermondsey in South London to Essex, where she was born and lived most of her celebrity life. The event was very much a media circus, but it very much reflected the life Jade herself lived for the last few years.

Hundreds of photographers had gathered at John the Baptist Church in Buckhurst Hill, to the north east of London, where her funeral service was held. Church staff occasionally brought the assembled media cups of tea and coffee and one photographer organised a collection for the church in thanks. In the streets hundreds of fans had already arrived by the early hours. By the time the funeral cortege arrived there were more than a thousand. It was a bizarre scene as the well wishers bought ice-cream from a vendor, who claimed he “wasn’t proud of selling it” at a funeral.

There were huge cheers as the procession arrived with news helicopters and planes circling above. Flowers were thrown from adoring fans and as publicist Max Clifford arrived someone handed him a single daffodil. Her husband Jack Tweed helped carry the coffin into the church as close members of the family followed, many weeping. As Jade’s widowed husband read a poem during the service the crowds of fans watched on huge television screens that had been specially erected for the occasion.

After the service the coffin was carried to the hearse which made its final journey to North Weald where Jade was to be buried at a more private ceremony. As the hearse drove away, so the crowds too drifted from the streets outside the church, from what was perhaps one of the most surreal funerals ever seen in Britain.

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