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People line streets of Sawbridgeworth for funeral procession of 'Terry the Sweep', a servant of the town who lived and died alone but was known and loved by all



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Always friendly and free with a cheery ‘hello’, road sweeper Terry Parker had a true place in the hearts of the people of Sawbridgeworth.

So when the call went out for residents to line the route of his funeral cortège, they turned out in droves for a man who worked for Sawbridgeworth Town Council for more than a decade and was said to be the one person the whole town knew.

Terry, who lived alone in a caravan in High Wych, died in February of a suspected heart attack, aged 69. After it was revealed he might not have a proper funeral and burial place, his friends in the town set up an online GoFundMe appeal and more than £4,000 was raised.

Members of the public and shop owners line the pavements for the funeral cortège for 'Terry the Sweep' as it passes en route to the funeral. Pic: Vikki Lince (46218846)
Members of the public and shop owners line the pavements for the funeral cortège for 'Terry the Sweep' as it passes en route to the funeral. Pic: Vikki Lince (46218846)

Many people pulled out the stops, from funeral director Daniel Robinson & Sons to florist Violets Floral Designs and Sawbridgeworth Evangelical Congregational Church minister the Rev Gary Hanson.

The call to ensure the road sweeper was remembered in style was begun by Hand and Crown publican Darren Grover and his son Josh, who remembered Terry popping in to the pub in High Wych Road after he finished work.

And on Thursday (April 15) the procession passed through the town, along streets lined with residents clapping in appreciation for the man dubbed 'Terry the Sweep'.

Terry Parker was described by his family as a 'wanderer' (46239284) (46336170)
Terry Parker was described by his family as a 'wanderer' (46239284) (46336170)

Little was known of his life until his funeral. But with members of his family present at the private ceremony held at Three Mile Pond Cemetery at 2pm – including three of his siblings, Janet, Julie and Phillip, and his nephew Jamie – the details of some of Terry’s life could be filled in.

One of 11 children, Terry was born on October 27, 1951 to Patricia and Leslie Parker in Edmonton, north London.

His sister Janet Leonard provided Rev Hanson with information about his early life for the order of service, including the family’s “almost yearly trips to Butlin’s holiday camps, enjoying the swimming, funfair and winning lots of certificates and prizes between them in many competitions”.

Janet said Terry had struggles with a stammer but despite that was a good singer. She added that Terry thought of others, even once allowing his flat to be used by someone more in need, despite needing it himself.

Terry Parker, third from left on top of the van, was one of 11 children born to Patricia and Leslie Parker in Edmonton. (46239287)
Terry Parker, third from left on top of the van, was one of 11 children born to Patricia and Leslie Parker in Edmonton. (46239287)

She revealed that even though he came from such a large family, Terry had always been a bit of a wanderer. When their parents moved from Edmonton in 1992, Terry stayed, before moving to Ware and then to Sawbridgeworth.

Janet wanted to thank interim town clerk Jo Sargant, along with Darren and Josh Grover, Lee Davis from The Old Bell, Caroline Gunn from Daniel Robinson & Sons for the funeral arrangements and the service sheets, Donna and Corin of Violets Floral Designs and Rev Hanson.

Terry’s nephew Jamie Merry told the Indie it was a “lovely send-off” for his uncle and he praised the town’s support. “There was so much compassion from the people of Sawbridgeworth,” he said.

Jamie, from Hertford, said Terry was always a "free person" and the family had not seen him for more than 15 years. His uncle had kept himself in his own bubble, and he would have been shocked if he had known how much he was loved.



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