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RAF salute at funeral of brave Ann-Marie

The RAF firing party line up outside St. John Vianney's Church. Picture by FRANK REID

The RAF firing party line up outside St. John Vianney's Church. Picture by FRANK REID

THE words of legendary broadcaster Terry Wogan filled the church as scores of mourners bid farewell to inspirational Ann-Marie 
Noble.

A recording of the BBC Radio 2 interview Wogan made with Ann-Marie, 32, when he met her as part of her “bucket list” played to around 200 people who paid their last respects at St John Vianney’s RC Church, in King Oswy Drive, Hartlepool, yesterday.

“Ann-Marie Noble, I am proud to be in her bucket,” said Wogan.

Ann-Marie, an RAF flight lieutenant whose life was cut tragically short after a battle with cervical cancer, planned her own funeral, even “to the last detail and as precise as a military operation”, her friend and fellow flight lieutenant Kev Cole told the church.

She chose her own hymns, songs and prayers and even the RAF personnel who helped to carry her coffin, which was draped in a Union flag and taken to church by a horse-drawn carriage.

Military bearers carried the coffin into church while an RAF firing party gave a salute.

The coffin was led into the service to the strains of I’ll Be There by Katie Melua and led out to Killer Queen by Queen.

As well as Ann-Marie’s family and friends, many of her RAF trainees, from RAF Marham, in Norfolk, were also in attendance.

Speaking of Ann-Marie’s admirable fight against cancer while remaining positive, Flt Lt Cole said; “We are not here today to lament how tragic it all is but to celebrate the life of someone who lived life to the maximum.”

He spoke of how Ann-Marie, of the town’s West View Road, enjoyed “the finer things in life” and described how she was determined to tick off items on her bucket list, including a weekend in London, a trip on the Orient Express and taking her family to Disneyland Paris.

Flt Lt Cole also spoke of her friends from Hartlepool Sixth Form College and their memories of Thursday nights in The Wesley nightclub.

Reverend (Flt Lt) Dawn Colley said: “She embraced all the challenges that came here on.

“She had an inner peace and matter-of-factness about her day-to-day life.

“In the short time I knew her, nothing seemed to faze her, in fact the more difficult life situations became, the more determined Ann-Marie was to embrace them.”

The funeral service was followed by burial at West View Road ceremony, which included a gun salute and The Last Post being played.

On leaving church, mourners were given photographs of Ann-Marie with inspiring messages including: “Live the life that is in you.”

 

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