THE grieving family of a Gosport woman have thanked three men who stepped in to rescue a hearse stuck in ice and snow.
The children of lifelong Gosport resident Joan Belbin, 93, of Sedgwick Close, Rowner were on their way to Portchester Crematorium when the hearse containing Mrs Belbin’s coffin became stuck in the treacherous conditions.
The hearse could not move forward after driving on to ice at the corner of Rowallan Avenue and Rowner Road at around 11am on Friday.
But then three men appeared and pushed the hearse free.
Mrs Belbin’s daughter Pat Baines, 71, now of Christchurch, was in a car behind the hearse and said the family had already been concerned the funeral would be cancelled due to the weather.
She said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. T hey were unbelievable – things like this don’t happen these days.
‘The hearse was stuck in a snowdrift and all of a sudden these men got out and trudged through the snow in ordinary shoes and willingly pushed it.
‘It was absolutely astonishing – it restores my faith in people.
‘I want to give them my heartfelt thanks but I shall never be able to thank them enough, it’s just wonderful.’
Mrs Baines was with her sister Pauline Wells, 64 of Verwood in Dorset, and brothers Derek Belbin, 60, of Stubbington, and John Belbin, 72 of Nova Scotia in Canada, along with their partners.
She added that while at the time she was upset, the scene suited her mother’s outlook.
‘We were just setting off and then we got stuck and I thought “oh dear, my mother’s not going anywhere, she wants to stay in Rowner”.
‘My nephew always calls her “laughing nan” because she’s always laughing.’
Ray Wells, 55, the husband of Joan’s daughter Pauline, said the men were so quick at rescuing the hearse that the family were unable to express their gratitude.
‘They stopped the traffic on the Rowner Road and the hearse was really struggling.
‘It wasn’t going to get out of Rowallan Avenue, it was just slipping on the ice.
‘We were very impressed and that’s why we want to find these people.
‘They were there, they did and they were gone. We had no opportunity to say thanks.’