An estimated 1,000 people gathered at St Barnabus Church, Gorse Hill on Friday 14 September to say a sad but lively farewell to Carol Shand from West Swindon who was described as ‘an angel on earth.’
Many attending on 14 September responded to the family’s request that they wear something yellow as the coffin was borne in a traditional horse drawn hearse.
Carol, from Grange Park, was a leading light in Swindon’s Afro-Caribbean community. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and had been close to remission in 2006 when specialists at the Great Western Hospital told her that the disease had spread to the linings of her lungs and then to her bones.
Friends sent Carol and daughter Kinisha on a fantastic cruise around the Caribbean and in the April Swindon Link magazine she spoke of the journey she was making and appealed for information on inspirational places she could visit with Kinisha and baby Shenaya, pictured above. Several readers sent messages and information on places like Lourdes, Glastonbury and Christian retreats.
A former youth worker and soul singer, Carol wanted to continue making music, writing songs, working with children and furthering her education. Sadly she was unable to follow her dreams. She died at the Prospect Hospice earlier in the month on 3 September.
Carol lived for a time with her sister Dawn in Stamford Close, Toothill where an overnight wake was held around the coffin. Her coffin was borne from there to Gorse Hill in a magnificent white hearse pulled by four proud grey’s, each sporting a tall yellow feather from their bridles. All the houses in the close were decorated with yellow ribbon and the family gathered to say farewell, before boarding a bus to attend the funeral.
Carol’s sister Dawn said, “there were lots of tears, but we celebrated a wonderful life. Carol was part of so many people’s lives in so many ways. She started to plan the funeral with the funeral directors but her health started to worsen, so the family finished off the details. It was typical of Carol when she said she wanted a supply of carrots to keep the horses happy.
“It was lovely for all the neighbours to decorate their homes and to wear yellow to send Carol off.”
Family friend Dean Moutousamy said Carol had been strong to the end. “Carol was an absolute inspiration to everybody who was touched by her and anybody who learnt of her story. The Prospect Hospice were just fantastic; their care and concern was wonderful for Carol.”
Friend Elaine Robson from Freshbrook said the service was a wonderful occasion. "Carol's daughter, nephews and nieces gave readings and the singing was beautiful. You couldn't get anymore people into the church it was so packed."
Carol's friends were able to say a last goodbye to her as they filed out of church before the coffin was sealed for the short journey to the Whitworth Road cemetary. There, all who attended took turns in filling the grave which included a bottle of rum, Carol's favourite drink.
Carol was due to attend 'Carol’s Cook-Out' on 9 September in aid of the Swindon Afro-Caribbean Kids Club which she helped set up in 2000 but was too ill to be there. The Sunday after schools start back in September is to become an annual family event to honour Carol and her family and friends have decided to donate the proceeds of next year’s event to the Prospect Hospice.