Horse-drawn hearse in final tribute to Sidmouth man

Sidmouth pays its respects to former Kingswood Hotel employee

SIDMOUTH came to a virtual standstill last Tuesday when a glass hearse, drawn by two black-plumed white horses, passed slowly through the town centre.

The unusual final tribute was made by Christine Wallis of Sidford Road, Sidford, to her husband Christopher, who died on March 26 after a long illness.

The procession passed by the Kingswood Hotel, where he once worked as a wine waiter, before going to Sidbury Church for a service of thanksgiving and burial.

She said: “Sidmouth just stood still and the older gents took their caps off. Chris suffered so much he deserved something special. I wanted to give him a real send-off.”

Christopher died, surrounded by family, at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Wonford, aged 61.

Father of Matthew and Nathan, he was born in Swanscombe, Kent and became an apprentice carpenter, meeting Christine when she was 15.

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They married when she was 19. Their ruby wedding anniversary was just six days before Christopher died. His brother Trevor, best man at their wedding, saluted the coffin at the graveside.

Dogged by bad health during his life, having suffered a brain tumour, stroke and heart attack as well as lung disease from working with asbestos, and diabetes, Christopher moved from Kent to take up a position at the Kingswood Hotel, when owned by his sister, Joy Seward. He was forced to give up work at 49 following his brain tumour.

Christine and the boys moved to Sidmouth two years later after the sale of the family home and she became housekeeper at the hotel.

Nephew Mark Seward and his wife Jo laid on food for the funeral-goers at the Kingswood.

Matthew’s girlfriend Jilly, and Nathan’s partner Rachael, and their children Stacey, nine, and Jamie, five, attended the funeral with other family members, friends and neighbours.

“There were about 60 there,” said Matthew, who with his brother had a ‘DAD’ floral tribute in white asters alongside Christine’s spray of white lilies, carnations and roses and two red hearts.

Christine said: “I would like to thank Canon Dennis Gurney for conducting the service, nursing staff at Honiton and Wonford hospitals, staff at the kidney unit and Oakment ward and Potbury’s.”

Donations will go to Exeter’s kidney unit.