Village brought to a standstill for traveller’s funeral

Floral tributes to Ron Smith
Floral tributes to Ron Smith
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THE funeral procession of a ‘true gentleman’ brought Emsworth to a standstill.

On a blisteringly hot day traveller Ron Smith was laid to rest in his home village of Westbourne.

More than 250 family and friends stopped traffic as they made their way from the Westbourne caravan site where great-grandfather Mr Smith lived with his wife of more than 50 years, Lilly, almost a mile to Westbourne Church.

The 72-year-old was known across the area through his work as a car dealer but recently suffered ill-health because of two aneurysms.

He had long stays in hospitals for the latest aneurysm in his chest but in his final days he was cared for at home by his close-knit family.

Daughter Elizabeth Harrison, 42, from Southbourne, said: ‘My dad was a travelling man, a gypsy man, and he lived in Westbourne for around 40 years.

‘When we walked through the village all the shopkeepers came out to watch. They said they couldn’t believe it.

‘He was a very well-known car trader and businessman, a real lovely character. When he was in St Richard’s Hospital the nurses called him King Ron, and they’d all give him a kiss every day.

‘He was known for always wearing pristine white shirts.

‘He dealt a lot with the Sparshatts in Botley.

‘In their card they wrote “Ron was one of the last true gentlemen in the motor trade”.’

In his final weeks, with his family surrounding him, Mr Smith was able to name his unborn great-grandson – due in November.

Elizabeth added: ‘My dad actually named my daughter Bryony-May’s son Frankie. It was very, very special for us.’

Granddaughter Bethany Beavis-Smith sang Amazing Grace at the funeral last Thursday.

It was conducted by the Rev Sandra Beavis, the mother of Ron’s daughter-in-law Claire.

Now the family are focusing on helping other people who have suffered aneurysms and their families.

Grandson Curtis Harrison, 22, will do a tandem skydive in Salisbury on Saturday for the Circulation Foundation.

The charity promotes research into vascular disease. To sponsor Curtis go to