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Hundreds pay tribute to Maurice Abrahams on his final journey …

HUNDREDS gathered to say their final goodbye to a wedding chauffeur who has touched the hearts of a county. The funeral of Maurice Abrahams[1], one of the 11 victims of the Shoreham Airshow disaster[2], was held at St Margaret s Church in Rottingdean. The sun shone on the village church as friends, family and wellwishers remembered the incredible life of the 76-year-old from Woodingdean.

The gentle chatter from old friends and dignitaries subsided to a hushed silence as the procession, to a recording of Ride of the Valkyries performed by the Band of the Parachute Regiment, arrived. Members of the regiment, in which Mr Abrahams served, were present, dressed in uniform with their distinctive burgundy berets. They accompanied the pallbearers ahead of a family cohort led by his wife Edwina, his son Edward and daughter Lizzie.

The next time you look in the mirror, remind yourself that the image you see back, your reflection, is the only one of its kind in the world, said Father Martin Morgan, who led the service.

You are totally and utterly unique. What we bring to the world no-one else can bring.

If that s true of you, it is true of Maurice.

He brought something very special to the world.

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Thinking of him amidst the horror and the tragedy of what happened, I think of this word: service. He added: He gave service to his nation I suspect he thought the ladies liked uniforms.

He served the community in the jobs he did for people as well as the brides and grooms. He did so many things for other people.

Remarkably and wonderfully, the last act that he did on this earth was for other people.

He allowed another car in. He made space for them.

That family lives and they are grateful to him and brought flowers today. This sums up his work.

Father Morgan, who knew Mr Abrahams well through his work as a wedding chauffeur, recalled him as always being immaculately dressed. He added with a chuckle, His choice of music in the car when he left the church was quite interesting. I often heard Another One Bites The Dust. He also told those gathered of Mr Abrahams plan to bump his daughter higher up the school waiting list. He said: Lizzie wanted to go to St Margaret s Primary School, but was way down the list, so Maurice came and painted the vestry, which I thought was wonderful.

He praised the strength of the family in allowing the community to share in their grief, and the Sussex Police[3] liaison officers who assisted them. He said: We have to thank the family because this awful thing that has happened has become owned by the community.

Everywhere you look, people are affected by the 11 deaths.

We have seen the candles and flowers on the bridge. It is about not having the words to say, but being able to do something. None of us have any words at all that can take away the pain for the family, but we have done something by being here, by laying flowers.

A seemingly small act is a huge act because it involves us all. The family has given us a choice to express our grief in a real way. We now need to respect them and have their time with their man. Close friend David Spalding, who met Mr Abrahams when he ran a fish and chip shop in Montpelier Road, Brighton, told how Mr Abrahams loved his cars and his family.

He said: He bought flowers for Edwina every Saturday. They were totally in love. Lizzie s dance classes were taking off, that made Maurice very proud. Edward was a chip off the old block.

Friends were also very important to him. He made friends at a drop of a hat. It was unbelievable how he could make and keep them. And nobody forgot their wedding day when Maurice was around. Father Martin encouraged everyone to take a memory of Maurice, move it from your head to your heart and store it there, because that is where it belongs . He added: Maurice had parked the car, tragically where the hearse is now, and someone started shouting at him for parking there.

The words were of the Anglo Saxon variety. I half expected Maurice to reply in the same language, but he said Madam, I m not going to repeat what you said, I merely wish you the same .

After The Last Post, the procession left to the upbeat and jazzy Parachute Regiment band s arrangement of When The Saints Go Marching In. Many wiped back tears, but the song also raised a few smiles. Relatives and friends placed flowers outside the church and stewards collected donations for the Sussex Police Charitable Trust in front of a candle-lit framed picture of Mr Abrahams in his signature chauffeur hat and suit. Mourners then congregated in Ovingdean Village Hall, where Mr Abrahams had been a committee member.

References

  1. ^ Maurice Abrahams (www.theargus.co.uk)
  2. ^ Shoreham Airshow disaster (www.theargus.co.uk)
  3. ^ Sussex Police (www.theargus.co.uk)

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