Birmingham & Black Country

Rachael Heyhoe Flint funeral: Mourners gather in Wolverhampton

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Media captionRachael Heyhoe Flint's funeral draws hundreds of mourners

Hundreds of mourners have gathered for the funeral of former England women's cricket captain, Rachael Heyhoe Flint.

She died last month after a short illness.

Sporting legends and colleagues have been paying tribute to the "first global superstar in the women's game".

A service of thanksgiving was held at St Peter's Collegiate Church, in Wolverhampton - the city where she was born, educated and worked as vice-president of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Baroness Heyhoe Flint - who captained England between 1966 and 1978 - was given the freedom of the city in 2010.

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Image caption In 1976 Heyhoe Flint batted for 521 minutes at The Oval to earn her team a draw against Australia

Members of the public lined the streets and applauded as the limousines passed by the club's ground, Molineux, en route to the church.

The Reverend David Wright told mourners: "Rachael's death is a painful loss and it leaves a gap that no-one else could ever fill. Rachael was unique - one of a kind.

"She has made a contribution that no-one else could have made."

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TV presenter Judith Chalmers gave a reading and said: "We admired and loved her."

Fellow presenter Angela Rippon gave the eulogy and described her a "superstar in sport".

"She quite deliberately stole all of our hearts. She created a veritable tapestry of love and respect and I don't think anyone will ever forget her," she added.

Image caption Angela Rippon said Heyhoe Flint 'quite deliberately stole all of our hearts'
Image caption Wolves legend Steve Bull described her as a "big part of my life"
Image caption Former owner of Wolves Steve Morgan attended the service

During her cricketing career Baroness Heyhoe Flint played 22 Test matches and 23 one-day internationals.

In 1976, aged 37, she batted for 521 minutes in making 179 against Australia at The Oval, and in doing so earned England a series draw, Cricinfo's Martin Williamson said.

Matthew Fleming, from Marylebone Cricket Club - which remains the guardian of the laws and spirit of the game - said Heyhoe Flint was the "first global superstar in the women's game and her overall contribution to [the club], cricket and sport in general was immense".

Image caption Olympian and fellow Wolverhampton girl Denise Lewis said she was a 'trailblazer and a pioneer'

Heyhoe Flint was also an international hockey player, winning four caps in 1964. She authored books on the sport, and was hockey correspondent for The Daily Telegraph for a number of years.

She was awarded the MBE in 1972, the OBE in 2008 and was made a life peer in 2011.

Wolves legend Steve Bull described her as a "big part of my life" and the woman who taught him "all his wit and humour".

"She was a small lady but she had a big heart," he said.

A life in cricket

  • Born in 1939, she made her Test debut for the England women's cricket team in December 1960 against South Africa
  • She captained the England side for 12 years from 1966, leading them to victory at the inaugural Women's World Cup in 1973 - and captained the first England women's team to play at Lord's
  • She became the first female sports presenter, in 1973 on ITV's World of Sport
  • In 2004 she became the first woman to serve on the committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and also served on the England and Wales Cricket Board
  • She was the first woman to be inducted into the ICC's Cricket Hall of Fame in 2010

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