More than 100 attend drive-in funeral of much-loved farmer Peter
- Credit: PA
More than 100 people have attended the self-organised drive-in funeral of a much-loved Suffolk farmer and former footballer.
Father-of-five Peter Cole, 80, had spent much of lockdown calling for outdoor church services to be held in his home village of Sibton – and helped organise the church’s first just one week before he died.
The active church-goer and former Peasenhall United goalkeeper had told his daughter-in-law Michele Cole following the successful service that they would be able to hold his funeral on the field. He ultimately died at home on September 20 after suffering a heart attack.
Friends volunteered to act as stewards to direct cars for the drive-in service, held on the Peasenhall and Sibton playing field, where the hearse was parking in front of the goal – in line with Mr Cole’s wishes.
Mr Cole had arranged for the musician Eg White to perform at the service, and his song “Beyond The Sunset” was played through individual Bluetooth speakers inside each car, while a minister from Lowestoft led the service.
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Mrs Cole said the drive-in cinema company they had approached for help “did think it was a hoax” when they first got in touch about hosting the large-scale event.
“Nobody had spoken about running drive-in funerals before,” she said. “But when they realised we were serious they were great.
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“Throughout the summer we’d been talking with him about this church service because that’s really what he wanted to do, for the people who are very lonely.
“It’s quite a rural area and they had nowhere that they could go because the church was closed.”
Mrs Cole added the community had struggled with smaller funerals as a result of the coronavirus restrictions and hoped the drive-in funeral would bring people together.
Aside from his role between the sticks for the local football club, Mrs Cole said the grandfather of 10 will also be remembered for his family’s community spirit.
“Lots of things around the village happened because they made it happen,” she said.
“Peter used to say that his father had said: ‘Always look after the people in the village’.
“He had that in the back of his mind for a lot of the time as well as making sure that his family were ok.
“Those were the things that drove him forward.”