A WOMAN whose dying wish was to not have a traditional funeral has made history by having her send off at a working men’s club.

Linda Townend, 72, of Hope Avenue, Goldthorpe, died on June 21 following a battle with lung and colon cancer.

Before she died, she told her family that she did not want a traditional funeral, instead she wanted a big party with bright colours and for everyone to celebrate her life.

One place where Linda loved to spend her time was the Union Jack Club, on High Street, Goldthorpe and following her death, her family wanted to fulfil her wish.

Her daughter Debbie Calder said the initial plan was to hold the ‘wake’ in advance, in the form of a party that her mum could attend.

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But when Linda died, plans changed and the idea developed into holding the service in the club in what is thought to be the first funeral of its kind.

“My mum really wanted wanted to attend her wake, but died before she had the opportunity to do so,” said Debbie, 54, of Stump Cross Gardens, Bolton-upon-Dearne.

“After she died, as a family we wanted to honour her wishes and we knew a party would be the perfect send off that she wanted.

“She was such a wonderful woman. She was so easy to talk to and approachable, which everyone knew and loved her for.

“She loved socialising, and she loved the Union Jack club.

“She spent a lot of time there over the years and she was a popular character and well known by everyone.

“When she wasn’t with family, you could guarantee she was at the Union Jack.

“We thought it would be a fantastic tribute to hold her funeral there, so she can spend her last hour in one of her favourite places.”

The unconventional idea was given the go ahead by managers at the club, and the family decided to hold the wake there after as well.

The service, which took place on Tuesday, was led by Rev Dr John Morahan.

He also officiated the service at the graveside where Linda was laid to rest with her late husband Ralphie.

Rev John said: “The church, and fellowship, are not confined to a few ‘Holy’ buildings on Sundays, it is a much wider sense of caring, sharing and supporting that binds people together, especially in difficult times.

“The club has been exactly the right place to pay tribute to such a much-loved and significant member of our community, and Linda would be proud to spend her last hour with the people she loved.

“Perhaps this will be the start of a new trend, one where people say their good-byes in the places where they said their hellos to friends and family alike.

“Just as the government are considering allowing people to marry virtually anywhere they like, it could be the right time to develop a more relaxed approach to choosing venues from which to depart this life.

“Places where ‘Amen’ and ‘Make mine a double’ sit side by side... Last Orders indeed.”

Debbie added: “The funeral was everything my mum would have wanted. It was absolutely brilliant.

“We also raised £585 for Macmillan, which is a charity close to us. It couldn’t have gone any better.”

Linda leaves four children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.