Great send-off for Dame Vera

Dame Vera Lynn

When Dame Vera Lynn died at the age of 103 on June 18, the nation mourned the passing of a great British icon. The forces’ sweetheart, loved by so many, needed a funeral to match the outpouring of affection and that responsibility fell to SAIF Past President Paul Bowley.

“It was a honour and privilege to look after, arrange and conduct Dame Vera Lynn’s funeral. Dame Vera was a special lady, she was the forces’ sweetheart who helped the country through World War Two,” says Paul.

Dame Vera’s cortege was accompanied by the Battle of Britain flypast as it travelled through Ditchling in East Sussex at midday, and hundreds of people had gathered to await the arrival of the cortege on its 20-minute drive to the crematorium.

“Due to COVID-19 the family could not use the local church so they ended up having a private service at Woodvale crematorium, Brighton. Dame Vera’s daughter Virginia and son-in-law Tom were absolutely wonderful people and made my job seem effortless, although now looking back I realise just how much time and effort went into making sure all went well on the day.”

Paul worked alongside members of the military to make a day befitting the occasion. “The military were great to work with,” he says. “And, of course, they did everything to perfection just like we as funeral directors have done for many years.

“My 42 years of experience in the funeral profession helped me immensely and, as I looked after the family, my experienced staff and my partner Davina looked after me. Never try to do something like this on your own!”

There are official books of condolence in Paul’s offices at Bowley Funeral Service, P&S Gallagher and Bowley & Gallagher. If you would like to be added, email your message.

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