Mourners say final farewell to Rhona

THE husband of EADT columnist Rhona Damant, whose battle against breast cancer inspired and moved so many people, has told mourners she was his “rock”.

THE husband of EADT columnist Rhona Damant, whose battle against breast cancer inspired and moved so many people, has told mourners she was his “rock”.

David Damant paid the moving tribute in front of 300 people at the funeral service Rhona organised herself during her brave seven-year battle with cancer.

He said: “People have said that I have been her rock throughout this but I would turn that around. She gave me strength by being strong herself. She was the rock not I.”

Mr Damant described his wife as a “shining example” in dealing with the disease and spoke warmly of her love for their two children, Francesca and Kristopher.

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The funeral of the courageous mother-of-two and vigorous fundraiser saw hundreds of family and friends pack into the Church of St Lawrence in Great Waldingfield, near Sudbury.

Mr Damant said: “I take great strength from knowing how loved Rhona was by so many people. The word repeated on countless occasions was inspirational.

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“I am extremely proud and honoured to have been an integral part of her life - it was full of wonderful memories which I will cherish forever. I hope her legacy will remain through her children.

“Rhona always loved her babies. She was a marvellous mother, not just when they were children but right through their lives.

“She always had an uncanny ability to do the right thing and make the right decisions for them. She wanted the very best for them and they could not have asked for a more caring mother.”

Rhona died earlier this month at the age of 45 - the same age her own mother died of the same disease.

During her illness, Rhona begin writing her poignant diary on the pages of the EADT and she touched the hearts of readers throughout the country.

Her husband said: “On the whole, she was very positive in her attitude while at home and in private. I can count on one hand the number of times when there was tears or anger. When Rhona died, we all lost a very special person.”

Before her death, Rhona organised her own funeral and organised memory boxes for her children for coming-of-age events like birthdays and wedding.

Rhona's wish that everyone should dress in pink was well observed yesterday - with flashes of the colour in ties, tops and coats.

Mourners were moved to tears as prayers were led by The Rev John Fieldgate and later as Eva Cassidy's Songbird filled the church.

There was also a period of reflection as her body was laid to rest at the Great Waldingfield parish church before a wake was held at the Bull Hotel in Long Melford.

Mr Damant also paid tribute to Essex County Hospital - and particularly The Mary Barron Suite - where his wife was treated as an inpatient on three separate occasions and as an outpatient for seven years.

“The care and treatment she received there was during this time was second to none,” he said.

Rhona's hugely successful diary evolved into a book, Sit Down and Stop Laughing, with a foreword written by Irish popstar Ronan Keating, who she met on a number of occasions.

Among the floral tributes yesterday was a wreath of white lilies - Rhona's favourite flower - and amaryllis from Keating. His message perfectly reflected the mood inside the church and for mourners unable to attend.

It read: “Courageous to the very end but your spirit will live on, love Ronan.”

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