Gloucestershire

Cheltenham fire crew lift woman, 89, into church for funeral

Muriel being lifted into the church Image copyright Tina Savage
Image caption Three firefighters answered the plea to help Muriel attend her friend's funeral

A fire crew lifting an 89-year-old wheelchair user into church for a friend's funeral was a "fantastic act of kindness", the vicar has said.

An appeal was issued by the carers of Muriel, who is partially-sighted, to enable her to pay her respects at the service in Cheltenham.

Three firefighters answered the plea and offered their time to discreetly carry her into the church.

"They were absolutely marvellous and I do thank them very much," she said.

'Call of duty'

"It was a lovely service and really important because I've known the lady for over 50 years."

Both Muriel and her friend were regular members of the congregation, according to the vicar of The Church of the Ascension in Southam.

"Sadly, Muriel is not very mobile and the access to the church is difficult with many high steps and therefore thought she might not be able to attend the funeral of her dear friend," said Rev Richard Reakes.

"I am always greatly touched when people go beyond the call of duty and do fantastic acts of kindness and this is a case in point.

"I know Muriel greatly appreciated what was done for her and that she was able to give her respects in person to her great friend."

Image copyright Tina Savage
Image caption The funeral was held at the Southam church on Thursday

Tina Savage, manager of the retirement complex in Cheltenham where Muriel lives, said the crew were very kind and discreet around the Thursday gathering.

"What I didn't want to do was detract from the importance of the day for the family of the lady whose funeral it was," she said.

"They whizzed her up the stairs and into the church and people didn't really notice."

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