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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Carol's Funeral Service Script (12th January 2012)


Ceremony arranged by:             Mike for…

Deceased Name:          Carol Anne GORMLEY

Date of Ceremony:    Thursday 12th January 2012

Time of Ceremony:                      3pm

Venue:                     Penmount Crematorium, Truro

Processional music –   ‘Suspicious Minds’ – Elvis Presley

Good afternoon and welcome everyone.  On behalf of Mike and his family, I thank you all for your presence and valued support here today as we are gathered to say a last, fond, rock n’ roll style farewell to the much loved, flame haired, ever smiling ‘pocket rocket’ that was Carol Anne GORMLEY.

First of all let me introduce myself, I am Suzanne Brown, a Civil Funeral Celebrant and it is my privilege to have been asked to lead this ceremony through which we will focus on and celebrate Carol’s 47 years of life in a manner very much as she had planned it.  In doing so it is hoped to provide some comfort to those of you most affected by her passing. I know it will be with heavy hearts that you have made your way here from far and wide to pay your last respects. It demonstrates the esteemed regard in which you all held Carol.  I know there are some who, for circumstances beyond their control, could not make it today but I am sure they will be thinking of you all at this difficult time.

When I say we are here to celebrate Carol’s life you may find it difficult to contemplate celebration when many of you will still be struggling to come to terms with the pain of your loss.  Loss raises all manner of questions and emotions - most of all a sense of injustice for a vibrant, valuable life cut so short by the debilitating effects of Motor Neurone Disease. I have learned that Carol faced up to MND with a brave heart and a business as usual attitude so very typical of her and even when her physical movement and speech failed her she was still able to project her will and feelings – ensuring that even when the end came peacefully at home on 29th December … it was on her own terms.  Celebration of Carol’s life is therefore vitally important or what has it all been about?  That said, we all know we cannot change what has happened to Carol but it is possible, in time, to accept and embrace the fragility of this life we all live. We can learn to make the most of our time so that no matter what lies ahead we can strive to make a difference to the world and those we live among… just like Carol.  

Mike has asked me to say that you are all invited to join him for refreshments after this service at The Lanherne in Newquay where you can share your memories of her and raise a glass or two. Should anyone wish to make a donation to charity in Carol’s memory the proceeds will be for the benefit of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, you will see a box by the exit door.

This ceremony today has been prepared with the valued help of Carol’s friends and family with the emphasis very much on her life and character. When I visited the family home last week I was immediately struck by the little plaque on the wall by the front door which simply said ‘An Elvis fan lives here’.... hence the opening music we just heard. We will share in a moment a short reading before we hear some tributes to Carol from many sources and a moving eulogy written and delivered by Mike.  Mike’s niece Paula will read a poem.  Mike and Carol’s son Kyle will play a special piece on guitar before the words of committal and some thoughts for the future as we conclude.  Knowing what was to come, the songs you will hear throughout have been especially chosen by Carol reflecting her diverse taste in music and to fulfil her wish for a non-religious, colourful, rousing and uplifting exit.

I would like to read for you now, a thought provoking piece sent to me by Carol’s cousin Ann.

A ship sails and I stand watching ‘til she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says ‘She is gone’

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all.  She is just as large now as when I last saw her.  Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment  when someone at my side says she is gone there are others who are watching her coming over the horizon and others take up a glad shout, ‘There she comes!’

That is what dying is… An horizon and just the limit of our sight.  

Regardless of status or creed, everyone leaves a trace of themselves behind in our thoughts – whether by kind word or deed or through achievement and example – we are each unique beings with strengths and weaknesses and a story all our own to tell.  You are now going to hear how Carol has made her own special mark on the world through these tributes from friends and family… It is only fair to warn those of you of a delicate disposition that some of the content makes reference to the practice of ‘Happy Slapping’, swearing by Lite-writer and the now infamous, Gormley middle finger salute!!

We begin with Cousin Ann’s memories of Carol from when she was a child….

I remember when Carol was adopted by Annie & George (Jud as he was Known). I can’t quite remember how old she was but was just a babe in arms. Everyone was so excited about this new baby that was to become part of our lives. I can remember saving my pocket money to buy a dolly that rattled from Altrincham market for one shilling. It was probably pretty naf, but I couldn't wait to give it to her. I remember how happy Aunty Annie was to have a child of her own, she felt truly blessed when this beautiful baby arrived with a mass of shocking red curls. 

I remember the first summer was very hot. Her mum had taken her out in her pram. Carol got a bit sun burnt & poor Annie was horrified. She didn’t realise how sensitive Carol’s skin was at that time, and poor Carol got covered in all exposed areas in what I recall as thick white cream after that!

Carol grew to be a wonderful loving person. (I think we are all aware of that) She went to more Chippendale shows than anyone I know, and then of course moved on to Elvis.

After she married Mike and had the children, Aunty Annie was the proudest grandmother that I know. Carol was so selfless and asked her mum to be at the birth of her first baby. A wonderful thing to do, so typical of Carol. Annie said that it was the most amazing experience of her life; because of course she had never actually given birth herself.

When the family moved to Newquay, Annie told my mum that Carol phoned her every day without fail and told her she loved her. She was as proud as punch when Carol was training to be a nurse; she never tired of telling us how well she was doing.

Even after carol was diagnosed with MND, she tried to protect Annie until it was impossible to do so anymore. I remember seeing Carol at her mums. She had come to spend time with her. Aunty Annie had told us that Carol had hurt her leg and it wasn’t getting better. She had also said that she was having difficulty hearing Carol on the phone but blamed it on the fact that she was quite deaf. I was so surprised to find that Carol wasn’t speaking well. We went to make a brew in the kitchen-that’s when carol told me that she had MND. She told me not to tell her mum yet. She didn’t want to tell her until she had to, so very typical of that cousin of mine. I told Carol that if anyone could cope with it she could, but if I’m being honest at that point I had no idea of what it was. Carols response was yes she would be fine and oh boy did she teach us all how to be strong, brave and so determined.

The only thing that I would add is that I am so proud to have had such a beautiful person as my cousin. RIP Carol-Still loved by so many. Forever in our hearts.

When I visited the family home last week I sat and tried to absorb as much information as I could about Carol knowing I was to be standing here today. The house still resonates with her presence and with her special memorabilia for a rock legend which I will leave Mike to tell you more about.

I asked her brother Paul what his impressions of her as his sister were.  He thought for a moment and then he said…. ‘We never fell out …. just as long as I did what she said, Carol was only 5 feet tall but she was the one in charge’

Paul described how when they were children growing up in Timperley they went on caravan holidays to Wales and hung around together in Blackpool. Carol did quite well at school as he recalled but was never sporty. Her music was the main thing Paul remembered – the punk era and the Bay City Rollers. Most of all Carol was always there for him when it mattered, hard working and very supportive.

I have received numerous emails this week from people wishing to pay their respects and tell me about Carol … this is another

I am Ruth Wilkinson and was married to Carol's cousin William (divorced some years ago!)

In the early days of our marriage we saw quite a bit of Carol and Paul when they were in their teens as we were regular visitors to Aunty Annie and Uncle Jud's but the memory I will always have of Carol is December 1980 when she was my one and only bridesmaid. It was a quickly arranged wedding (less than 6 weeks) as her cousin and I had been offered a council house near to where Carol lived with her mum and dad. Her dress was borrowed (which was a good job really as i think she only actually wore it for the ceremony and for the reception up to the speech's) As soon as we left church all she wanted to do was take off the dress and kept asking when she could get changed and put her jeans on, she was quite a tomboy then and horrified that we had asked her to wear a dress! My mum still laughs about it even though it was 32 years ago. When I told my mum the sad news, she smiled and said do you remember Carol and the dress..........

She may have hated wearing the dress, but she smiled all the way through in typical Carol style.

My thoughts are with Mike and the children who have lost a special wife mother and grandmother, and also to Paul who has lost a very special sister.

Carol - a truly inspirational lady who I am honoured and proud to have known and will never forget.

Those last two words ‘never forget’ lead us nicely into the next song Carol has selected by Take That.

Music:  ‘Never Forget’ – Take That

Friend - Theresa Dearn

I am writing to let you know of my memories of Carol

We have been friends since our children were little so I have trillions of lovely memories, but a few we always laughed about are here :

We used to Walk to playgroup and back to collect the kids, one particular day we had no coats on as Carol had checked the weather and it was going to be a glorious day ! Yes you guessed it on the way home it absolutely threw it down and we were drenched to the skin ! But as we were running we were laughing so much we kept stopping so it took us longer.
We were out in my car and it started playing up, we ended up kangarooing down the road with carol hysterically laughing in the passenger seat !
We used to meet regularly for lunch and ending up spending till tea time chatting away and laughing at each others houses !
I would phone carol or vice versa and could spend time chatting for ages only to be meeting up after, Mike and Colin (my hubby) could never understand how we had so much to talk about !
Carols birthday is in December and my hubby's is in February so he has always ribbed her by saying she was a year older once she hits her birthday each year. Carols response was the Gormley finger !
The Gormley finger (middle finger) is another memory but possibly not apt lol :)
Laughter, lots of it, chatting away for hours and hours, and just knowing I had the best friend ever in carol. Always there no matter what.

Love Theresa xxx

True friends are everything at times like this, Carol was fortunate to have so many. Having devoted her time to raising her family and taking on a number of different jobs over the years to help Mike provide for the family, Carol’s personal ambitions had been put on hold… but that was to change – here is a tribute from another friend Steph Jolley to pick up the story…

I worked with dear Carol at the Celtic Sheepskin company about 5 or 6 years ago now. There were three of us, myself, Carol and Tess and we all became great friends. I felt I had to tell you this story just to show how determined and strong dear Carol was. (god life is so cruel!!)

Carol knew that she would not work at Celtic for too long, she was far too talented for that, but it was only when I happened to mention that a close friend of mine was an astrologer that she decided to get her birth chart done. ( I believe that she also had those of the children done too - not sure)  On the chart it mentioned that she should consider taking up nursing and that she would make a success of that career. As Carol had indeed considered taking this path that was all she needed, so she took the huge step and began her nursing training. She took to it like a duck to water and was about to start her final year when she was struck down by this terrible disease. What a wonderful nurse she would have made, god she would have brightened up any ward on a bad day with that smile!!

Friend and work colleague – Susan Rivett

It was fate that I met Carol, when she was a Student Nurse at Newquay
Hospital and we both knew we were destined to meet and become such good
friends, as we shared so many similarities through our life history. Carol
was, without doubt one of the best Students I had ever met, and the humour
in hospital culture was just perfect for her. It was difficult to keep a
straight face sometimes when working with Carol, as we just knew if we
looked at each other we would burst out laughing at the wrong moment.
Everyone Carol came into contact with at work loved her, and I remember a
very elderly patient asking where the lovely nurse was who had drawings
all over her!!!!
Carol showed me so much during her illness, her sense of fun continued,
and she always wanted to know how everyone was, and all the gossip, she
advised me and I always left her with a smile on my face, how could you
not, after being told to leave by her litewriter with a Father Ted phrase!
Went around one day and she was sitting in a new chair, she looked like
Ronnie Corbett in his famous chair , and so funny, her face was like
thunder, but within minutes we were laughing so much, Carol could always
take the Mickey out of herself, however that chair was not used again!! We
had a couple of girlie nights in when Mike went out, and a real battle of
wills went on, about what we would watch on TV sorry Carol, but, despite
what you said I'm sure you did enjoy the X factor auditions a bit.
How lucky am I to have had this time with Carol as a true friend, and an
inspiration for the rest of my life. Her smile is wrapped around my heart
and will always stay there.
My wonderful friend who I love loads

There have been many other contributions, not least from her carers and fellow nurses – little snippets jotted down and passed to Mike …. and I quote..

 ‘She had a beautiful smiling face, cheeky grin and a dirty sense of humour’…

‘Carol was always stylish and colourful, we all admired her sense of fashion’…

‘She was a fantastic confidante’

‘Happy Slapping’ – when we raised Carol up from the chair and used to massage her bottom… we shared fits of laughter with her whilst doing this’

‘We all enjoyed our music sessions in the mornings – one day Bohemian Rhapsody was playing, me and Lisa did some head-banging to it with our ponytails swinging! Had to jump back quickly when the Doctors arrived and pretend to be professional!!’

‘Visiting Carol was more than just a job, we all loved her like a sister’…

I am now going to hand over to Mike to read for you his own very personal tribute to Carol and the life they shared…

Eulogy for Carol – Written and Read  by Mike GORMLEY
(Published in the following blog post)

Music: ‘Sherry’ – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

‘Don’t think of her as gone away’ -  Author unknown  – read by Paula ROGERS
Don’t think of her as gone away-
Her journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets-
This earth is only one.

Just think of her as resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days or years.

Think how she must be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can really pass away.

And think of her as living
In the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost-
And she was loved so much.

Before we commit Carol’s body we shall have a few moments of peaceful reflection for each of you to recall your personal memories, to pray if you wish.

Music – son Kyle to play guitar -  ‘Canon’ - 

Please stand for the committal

For to everything there is season,

A time for every purpose on earth

A time to be born and a time to die
To Carol
We say a fond and final goodbye
Carol Anne GORMLEY…
Your compassion and generous nature we commit to our memories
Your love, humour and friendship we commit to our hearts
Your body we commit to its natural end.
With love we leave you in peace,
With respect we bid you farewell.

I sincerely hope that, in time, you can all be comforted to some degree by this important last act of love and respect that you have shared in here today. Carol’s life has been like a tapestry into which you are all woven to some extent. It is made up of many threads of memories which, no matter how time passes, will always remain somewhere in your hearts, safely stored to be accessed when you need them.  The greatest testimony to her memory is to make the most of your lives now, live every day as if it were your last…. Now for that Rock n Roll exit…

Exit music: ‘Sweet Child ‘ o’ Mine’ – Guns n Roses  

Close curtain

1 comment:

  1. Hello, Carolmike 25,

    I hope this message reaches you and your family in happier times. I’d like to say a big thank you for sharing your wife’s civil funeral ceremony script.

    My mother recently passed away and reading your story has given me hope, strength and great insight into preparing for her forthcoming funeral.

    All the best!