Adored resident given fitting send off by care home

Thorp House nursing home in Griston. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare

Thorp House nursing home in Griston. Picture: Kingsley Healthcare - Credit: Archant

Staff at a Norfolk care home gave an adored resident a fitting send off.

As a young signalman, Christopher Bell witnessed one of England's worst rail crashes – when 47 people died and 78 were injured in a derailment at Hither Green, south-east London, in 1967.

Although blameless in the tragedy, caused by a broken rail, the experience left Mr Bell tormented by mental illness for the rest of his life.

The staff at Thorp House nursing home, in Griston near Watton, who nursed him during his last two years, adored his larger-than-life character.

When he died on February 28 at the age of 73, their first thought was to organise a fitting send-off for someone who they believed, at that time, had no close family to attend to funeral arrangements.

Kirsty Holden, manager of the Kingsley Heathcare-run home, said: 'He had been with us since 2015 and was such a big part of the character within the home.

'He is sadly missed every day by all of the staff who had grown to love his character and colourful language.

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'He was known to us as Buffy and would never answer to his name Christopher.'

She added: 'The coffin and flowers were chosen by me and it was only as the arrangements were being completed that we found out that Buffy had a sister living in Norfolk.

'She got in contact with the home and told us she had no idea that he had been with us all of that time.'

Mrs Holden said she was really glad the service at West Suffolk Crematorium in Bury St Edmunds, held late last month was to the liking of his sister.

She said: 'His sister gave a tribute to the celebrant who read it out beautifully. The funeral was lovely and personally conducted by Mark Skinner Funeral Service, who have brought the flowers back to the home so we can enjoy the bright coloured arrangement.

'The staff had written on hearts which were placed in the garland around the coffin.'

Mr Bell's ashes will be laid to rest in the garden at Thorp House when the weather improves.

On the May Day bank holiday, Monday, May 7, staff at the home will be taking on a fundraising challenge.

They will cycle, using a stationary bike, 433 miles to raise money for resident trips and activity days. All are welcome to attend.