KINGSTEIGNTON resident Ellen Small was given a truly spectacular send off last week.

Ellen, a member of the travelling community, passed away last month aged 70, and was buried in the family plot in Bovey Tracey churchyard, where family members from across the UK came to gather and pay their respects.

Although living in Kingsteignton, Ellen was born in Torquay and brought up in Bovey Tracey where she went to school. And as it is the final resting place for her parents Jimmy and Phoebe, and nephew Thomas, it was appropriate she was buried there.

On Friday, her hearse drawn by four black, plumed horses made the long journey from her home in Clifford Avenue, Kingsteignton, to the church of St Peter, St Paul and St Thomas of Canterbury at the top of Bovey Tracey.

So long was the journey – nearly five miles – a special team of horses with the necessary stamina had to be brought down from Swansea.

The long train of hearse, and its following convoy of hundreds of mourners

– including siblings Jimmy and Carole – in silver Rolls Royces and other large vehicles took the Claypits Road to Bovey, then along Le Molay Littry Way and up through the town to the parish church, leading to lengthy queues of traffic tailing back along the busy road... but no-one complained.

Sister Carole said: ‘Not one vehicle overtook us. In fact many people stopped their cars to get out and watch.

‘Even cars coming the other way stopped to see. People were doffing their caps and bowing their heads, It was so respectful.’

Ellen, who never married, was devoted to her cats.

She had a long working life, starting at Kerslake Flowers in Kingsteignton. She then moved to Centrax and then their new owners where she worked in the castings division for some 40 years, receiving several long service awards in the process.

At a crowded church, a saxophonist played as her coffin was carried in. Later they played at the graveside where she was interred, when white doves were released as a final gesture.

‘I can’t praise Parker’s funeral directors enough for what they did,’ said a proud Carole.

‘It was the send-off Ellen deserved. In fact one person said it was the grandest funeral they had ever seen.’