Tragic marathon runner Claire Squires laid to rest to tune of Dolly Parton's Nine to Five
CLAIRE Squires, the hairdresser whose supporters helped raise more than £1 million for charity after her death in this year's London Marathon was buried next to her brother in her home town today.
The 30-year-old was laid to rest in the same grave as her brother at a private burial service this morning attended by some family members and her partner Simon Van Herrewege.
Her brother Grant died at the age of 25 in 2001.
Miss Squires' parents Priscilla, known as Cilla, and Paul were not present at the burial but were attending the funeral service afterwards with her sisters Maxine, Nicola and Penny.
Miss Squires collapsed and died less than a mile from the finishing line of the 26.2-mile course onear Buckingham Palace on April 22.
She was running for the Samaritans, in recognition of the work done by her mother Cilla, who had volunteered for the charity for 24 years.
Floral tributes were left on the path leading up to the church.
One read "Bear, we love and miss you so much. God must have needed an extra special person to have taken you. You're now with Grant so look after each other."
Another bouquet with a pair of gold plastic scissors attached was from the Moko hair salon in Market Harborough where she worked.
A record, Running by Alan Braxe and Fred, was also left. The message said "Your fav request. This will always remind me of you. Spencer."
A gold plaque has also been placed in the churchyard with her name engraved on it.
Members of the congregation arriving for this afternoon's service, wore splashes of red, Miss Squires's favourite colour, at the request of her family.
They were also handed red bands with XXX Claire XXX on to wear in return for donations to the charity Rainbows.
Dolly Parton's song Nine To Five and Toploader's Dancing In The Moonlight were played on a PA system set up outside the church.
The Rev Emma Davies thanked the hundreds of people attending today's service.
"We gather to remember Claire and to give great thanks to Claire who gave so much to so many people," she said.
She described Claire as a "truly beautiful" person who "sparkled".
The congregation then sang All Things Bright And Beautiful, the first of two hymns which have been chosen by the family.
Local Baptist minister Pastor Johnny Hutton, a family friend, led the service.
He said: "Many people have said that Claire was so much like that Samaritan who was prepared to help someone regardless of who they were or where they came from.
"Claire's life has inspired others to do the same and her tragic death has caught people's attention so that she has left this amazing legacy.
"Those who have donated should also be commended for their giving.
"I know the family have been moved by the generosity of so many, particularly from children and those who could ill afford to give.
"Claire's life and it seems untimely death will long be remembered by many more than just family and friends because of this unprecedented response."
The congregation sobbed, laughed and applauded as friends and family paid tribute to Miss Squires.
Her youngest sister, Penny, tearfully paid tribute, describing her as "beautiful, inside and out".
She said her sister lived "life to the full" and was a "go-getter".
"She has left a huge legacy raising well over a million pounds. She has become the nation's sweetheart," she added.
Miss Squires' partner, Mr Van Herrewege, also struggled to read out his tribute.
He thanked family and friends for all their support as well as people who had donated from across the world.
"There has been overwhelming support from people across the UK and the world who have taken her into their heart," he said.
He added that the level of generosity had been "mind-blowing".
He said her legacy would make life "better for other people, just like she did ours".
Applause could be heard inside and outside the church as the congregation joined in the Lord's Prayer, bringing the 45-minute service to an end.