THE funeral of a beloved mother and grandmother turned heads as the procession was lead by a Christmas elf.

Elizabeth Roche passed away at the age of 73 on June 17 after a long battle with cancer, and her funeral with a difference was held at Worcester Crematorium yesterday afternoon.

Her daughter Anita said: “Mum was a single mother to four daughters and a grandmother of 15 children. She was the strongest person I know and we all idolised her. We wanted to give her the world today as that is what she did for us her whole life.

“When she got ill the doctors warned us she didn’t have a lot of time left, we took her home and cared for her, we wanted her to be with us until the end. Her family was her entire life.

“We didn’t think she would make it to Christmas, but she surprised us all and we had the best Christmas ever. One of my sisters' husbands dressed up as an elf and handed out presents. She loved it, we have a video of her laughing and smiling. This is where the idea to have the elf at the funeral came from.

“Mum loved a laugh and a joke, despite her having a very difficult life she was always smiling even when she was in the worst stage of her illness.

“Mum was popular and well-known around Worcester as she has lived here all her life. She would be stopped in the street all the time for a chat. She was quite the character. We loved her more than words can say. The ceremony was so very beautiful, all the grandchildren had a purple balloon which they let go at the graveside. When mum was lowered into the ground it just poured it down, which we thought was very fitting.”

George Birch, from A. V. Band Funeral Directors, said it was a pleasure for him to dress as an elf, to provide a light-hearted service for the family.

Mr Birch said: “With the current climate, a lot of our clients are having to have funerals that are completely different and are very restricted. It has been really hard on families and staff and we have had a very damaging and stressful couple of months. To be able to fulfil this lighthearted and funny request was actually a relief to many of us. Dressing up as an elf, as funny as it sounds, has brought a real morale boost to us all. We are so happy we have given Elizabeth the send off she wanted - especially during these uncertain times.”