White horses, green outfits, but a black day

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A WHITE, horse-drawn carriage bore the slender coffin of Mexborough’s third tragic teenage road crash victim on January 13.

As with the funeral of Robert Tepper three days previously, the tiny Mexborough Parish Church was unable to contain the mass of up to 500 people who queued silently, awaiting admission as they paid their last respects.

Fuuneral of third Mexborough death crash victim, Lauren Birkett. January 13, 2011.

Fuuneral of third Mexborough death crash victim, Lauren Birkett. January 13, 2011.

In large groups, they stood in the porchway and outside, where they were able to hear the service over loudspeakers.

Father David Wise welcomed everyone, with an opening prayer of thanks for the light of Lauren... and “the love she shared among us”.

People had come together, he said, to celebrate Lauren’s life, out of love and affection, and to express sorrow and condolences to her family.

He continued: “Lauren’s parents Sue and Andrew, her brother Lee and his girlfriend Tasha have suffered a terrible shock and our hearts go out to them”.

Lauren's body arrives at the church in a wite coffin.

Lauren's body arrives at the church in a wite coffin.

Their sorrow was shared by a large extended family and by Lauren’s very many friends, he said.

The young victim had many interests, said Mr Wise.

She enjoyed shopping, was mad about shoes... and before a night out would complain she had nothing to wear, despite her bulging wardrobe!

She enjoyed particularly the “excitement and glamour of Prom Night”.

Cat as floral tribute at Birkett funeral 13.1.11

Cat as floral tribute at Birkett funeral 13.1.11

There were titters when the vicar mentioned the “pizza night” Fridays, that Lauren shared with her pals, including Marley and Yasmin, her cousin.

The vicar added: “Lauren loved her big family. She was close to cousin Billy, and loved all her cousins and grandparents very much”.

Smiling, he added: “She was fond, too, of the family cat Millie, who was actually a tom cat suffering an identity crisis!

“Millie’s full name was Mistletoe, as he was a Christmas kitten.”

Then there was Bobby Tepper, with whom Lauren was very much in love. The couple will lay to rest side by side, the vicar revealed.

The suggestion that death is nothing at all is unreal, he said. It deals a bitter blow to the living.

Mr Wise added: “Time is a great healer... I counsel you to talk about Lauren and to share your memories.

“We ask God to take Lauren’s soul into safekeeping, along with the others who died on that day.”

Lauren’s former head of year at Mexborough School, Julia Campbell, stood up to pay a very personal tribute to her former pupil.

She described Lauren as “an angel, a princess and a true legend” and recalled the quiet, dark-haired Y7 pupil who first announced to her: “My name’s Lauren... and I’m not like my brother!”.

Ms Campbell said Lauren made friends easily and had the rare quality of being able to keep them, adding: “She was confident, easy-going and trustworthy”.

Her pupil’s pet hate was the cold, and Lauren and her friends would “manufacture” arguments to sort out in the warmth of the teacher’s study when outside breaks were not so appealing.

The teacher added: “Lauren was “always smiling, always helpful, an excellent listener, hardworking and a pleasure to teach.

“She met all her work deadlines but still managed a fantastic social life”.

Her voice breaking, Ms Campbell closed by saying: “Lauren, you are a shining star and will be in our hearts and minds for ever... because no good things ever really die.”

* Pictures: Jim Oldfield and Karen Elliott.