Incredible funeral for legendary UK traveller as gold coffin carried through streets | UK | News

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Incredible funeral for legendary UK traveller as gold coffin carried through streets | UK | News

A legendary traveller’s funeral attracted hundreds of people across the UK and Ireland, who turned up to watch a gilded coffin being paraded through city streets.

James Coffey, 68, known as « Big Daddy », died on March 21 this year from cancer that spread to his brain, 14 months after he received a terminal diagnosis.

The traveller community descended on Cardiff on Monday, April 8, to give the Birmingham-born grandfather of 23 a massive sendoff before he was laid to rest in nearby Ely.

Pictures showed a gold coffin being carried through the city streets, stunning flower tributes and even a troupe of classic Rolls Royce cars.

The celebration was so massive that police warned locals to expect travel disruption as family and friends laid the traveller to rest alongside his glittering tributes.

Pictures from the scene posted by Wales Online showed that among the tributes created for Mr Coffey were a selection of items created using flower arrangements.

They included a cigarette packet – complete with the health warning – a pint of his beloved Sam Smith’s beer, excavation equipment, including a digger, and flower-framed photographs showing the grandfather on the job.

Other tributes included a pint of Guinness from his sons and grandsons, a heart-shaped bouquet from his daughter, and photographs of some of his favourite shops, including a Greggs.

The stationary tributes were placed on a parade route through Cardiff bustling with his friends and family as they followed his golden coffin as it travelled from St Alban on the Moors Church in Splott to Western Cemetery in Ely.

While the Coffey family patriarch was born and bred in Birmingham, traditional Irish songs emanating from the crowds on the route celebrated his proud heritage.

A big screen pictured Jim with his family and friends, to whom he was endlessly dedicated, and some attendees were seen celebrating his paving firm while wearing jumpers emblazoned with “G Davies Paving”.

His gilded coffin was surrounded by pictures of him and his family as it travelled in one of nine Rolls Royce cars procured for the occasion that was draped in Irish flags.

My Way by Frank Sinatra played as the cars exited the starting church, with Every Beat of My Heart by Rod Stewart, Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days) by The Judds, Now You Belong to Heaven by Mari Olsen Onsoien, and others following.

He was laid to rest at Western Cemetery – where he married his wife Agnes decades previously after meeting in 1976 – following a funeral service in which he was remembered by members of his huge family.

Mr Coffey’s daughter Bridget remembered her father for his daytime routine and his lifelong positive attitude.

She said: « My father was the sort of man who wouldn’t let anything drag him down. If he had pain, he wouldn’t go to the doctor.

« He would say the best cure is a can of John Smith’s or a can of Guinness. Every night after work he would sit at his table, smoke his cigarette and drink ten cans of John Smith’s. »

« At midnight he’d have his dinner that [his wife] Agnes made him. Then he’d be up bright and early to leave for work at 7am. »

Mr Coffey now shares a plot with Agnes, known as “Big Mommy”, whom he had met decades previously in 1976.

The Coffey matriarch died two years ago in 2022, just months before Mr Coffey was diagnosed with cancer that had spread throughout his body.

The groundworker braved chemotherapy while working gruelling 7am to 9pm shifts and maintaining an upbeat attitude, with Bridget declaring her father had « fought to the very end ».

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