Horrendous weather no match for Pendle village spirit as funeral goes ahead

The community in a Pendle village have rallied together to come the the aid of a resident desperately trying to ensure her father's funeral could go ahead in spite of heavy snowfall that was preventing the hearse from reaching her home.
Community spirit: The moment the firefighters arrived to carry to coffin. (Pic: Paul Foxley)Community spirit: The moment the firefighters arrived to carry to coffin. (Pic: Paul Foxley)
Community spirit: The moment the firefighters arrived to carry to coffin. (Pic: Paul Foxley)

Charis Rowlands, who lives on Carrier's Row in the Laneshawbridge, had been out shovelling snow since 5am yesterday morning in an effort to clear the street and allow the hearse from Helliwells Funeral Service to retrieve her father's coffin so the funeral could go ahead.

In an effort to help, one of Charis' friends, Autumn Pearson, posted an appeal on Facebook asking for help clearing the roads, prompting an incredible reply from the local community who came out in force to offer their assistance.

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One of those who made their way down was Paul Foxley, chair of Colne Town Council, who saw the appeal and headed out to Carrier's Row at about 7:45am with his wife only to find that most of the work had been done by other helpful residents who had already seen the appeal.

"Charis had been out shovelling snow in the dark, so when we woke up we thought the best thing would be to go along and see if there was anything we could do," said Paul, who has lived in Laneshawbridge for nearly 20 years. "We grabbed a couple of shovels and trudged off through the snow.

"When we got there, clearly there'd been a fair bit of shovelling going on; people had been there before we'd arrived," Paul added. "But it was a pretty fruitless effort in the sense that it was still snowing and the first bit off the main road is fairly steep."

Due to the sub-zero temperatures and the continued snowfall, and despite the residents' best efforts, the hearse was still unable to get up the street, but thankfully a group of firefighters were on hand to remedy the situation and make sure that everyone's efforts were not in vain.

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"It was more a case of carrying the coffin up the road; the fire brigade turned up and were there to help," Paul explained. "The fantastic thing about it was that so many people turned up prepared to do what was necessary. If the fire brigade hadn't been there, people would've carried the coffin. It was fantastic to see."

With the help of the firefighters, Charis' father's coffin was safely carried to the Emmott Arms, where the hearse was able to pick it up to take it to Skipton Crematorium so the ceremony could go ahead.

"It was really heartwarming to know that in a crisis there's a lot of community spirit," Paul said. "It was brilliant. Charis is one of the founder members of a new events committee that has been set up in the village and has been a real driving force in getting things moving in terms of events, and if anybody deserved help in this community, it was Charis. She puts a lot in."