Undertaker gets the full treatment from his family business

John Coghlan's son Richard Coghlan leads the hearse along West Street in Fareham, as they arrive at Holy Trinity Church.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13121-2025)
John Coghlan's son Richard Coghlan leads the hearse along West Street in Fareham, as they arrive at Holy Trinity Church.''Picture: Sarah Standing (13121-2025)
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IT WAS a route he had taken many times as an undertaker.

But yesterday John Coghlan took the route from the business’s home in Westbury Road to the nearby Holy Trinity Church in Fareham town centre, for the final time for his own funeral.

Mr Coghlan died aged 84 on December 30 following a stroke after returning home from a social event for the Fareham Art Group.

As the fourth generation of his family to run M Coghlans Ltd, which was set up in 1861, Mr Coghlan was well-known around the region. He had joined the family firm in 1947.

His son Richard Coghlan, the current director, walked ahead of the hearse as it arrived at the church.

And in line with industry tradition, other local funeral directors from Barrells, Freemantles, Michael Miller and Partners, Churcher and Tribbeck and Nigel Chamberlain and Partners acted as pallbearers.

The church was packed with more than 350 people going to pay their respects, leaving standing room only.

Richard said his father had remained active until the end.

He said: ‘Dad didn’t properly retire until he was 80. He was still doing the odd funeral for friends last year.

‘Before that he was still going out and doing 20-mile cycle rides.

‘He had a stroke two years ago but he still managed to walk down into town. It did slow him down a lot though.’

John had joined the Holy Trinity Church choir as an eight-year-old, and it remained a lifelong passion. He continued to join them until his stroke on December 18.

During the service, the choir sang The Benedictus, one of the last canticles John sang.

John also met his wife Sylvia at a youth club in the church’s old hall.

He was a keen member of Fareham Rotary for more than four decades and a trustee of the Prices Charity until his death.

After the service, a wake was held at the neighbouring church hall, where dozens of people gathered to share stories about Mr Coghlan.

John added: ‘He wasn’t particularly into fancy funerals or anything like that, but I think this was a fitting send off.’