Hundreds of mourners gathered in a Somerset town for the funeral of Catherine Wells-Burr, who died in tragic circumstances last year.
The parents of the 23-year-old Bath Spa University graduate had waited more than four months to be able to lay their beloved daughter to rest. The parish church of St Mary, in Chard, was packed for yesterday’s service, which was filled with emotion and with music that the bright young woman had loved.
Her family, including her parents, Jayne and Philip, wore green ribbons, and a wreath of white roses lay on the coffin. Dozens of people stood on the street outside the church to show their respects, and some shops in the town were closed too.
Miss Wells-Burr graduated from university with a first class degree and worked for local firm Numatic. She had everything to live for but last September firefighters called to a blaze close to the A358 near Ashill, Ilminster, made the shocking discovery of Miss Wells-Burr’s body in her burned-out Ford Focus.
Her boyfriend, Rafal Nowak, 31, of Chard, his former girlfriend, Anna Lagwinowicz, 32, and Tadevsz Dmytryszyn, 38, both of Taunton, have been charged with her murder. They deny the charge and a trial is due to begin at Bristol Crown Court on April 10.
Memories of Miss Wells-Burr’s vibrant personality were uppermost at the service, which was led by the vicar of Chard, The Rev Sue Tucker, assisted by curate, the Rev Jim Fallon. Mr Fallon spoke of the bond that had grown between the family and those who have supported them in their grief, and thanked those who had come to their aid, including Avon and Somerset Police and Victim Support.
He called on the congregation, and all who knew Miss Wells-Burr, to remember “times of shared laughter, and the joy and love received from her.” Miss Wells-Burr’s sister, Leanne, paid her own, very personal tribute. Friend Cathy Leng described Miss Wells-Burr as an exceptional student in her days at Bath Spa University, with a determination to go far. Keith Porter spoke for all at Numatic, where she worked.
Music included Eminem’s Not Afraid, and Miss Wells-Burr’s favourite, Numb, by American band Linkin Park played as mourners left the church. Among the many arrangements of flowers were poignant messages. One read: “In loving memory of my beautiful granddaughter. Always in my heart. Treasured forever for the love, joy and laughter you brought.”