Recently we were invited to have a share in documenting the funeral or more to the point it was The Celebration of The Life of Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher, who sadly passed away in Reading, Berkshire.
Coming all the way from West Yorkshire to Reading was no easy drive for Angela, who very wisely booked us into a hotel the night before the funeral, being late was never an option.
For many families who find themselves in this emotional situation, that we all have to experience from time to time, as well as the informing of friends and family, there is one thing that many families will struggle with and that is the putting together of a funeral program.
Especially a 2 day funeral program that was going to reflect a wonderful lady who had accomplished so much in her life as well as the planting of seeds in many people's heart and mind that she came to meet on her journey through life.
Like many people who are aware that falling asleep in death is soon to be upon them, Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher had a share in planning her own funeral, something I will remember my own mother doing as well.
The children Denzil and Karen along with various members of the family, in the short time that they had, did so well in organising not one funeral, but two funeral arrangement for their mother, both of which was organised to a very a high and professional standard.
The first funeral was to be a Thanks Giving Service to be held at the Church of God Worldwide Mission, on Portman Road, Reading, with refreshment at the River Ibis Health Club.
The second funeral was the Home Going Service and interment, which was at Darlington Street, Methodist Church, Wolverhampton, with the interment at the Bushbury Cemetery and Crematorium, Wolverhampton, and finally with refreshments at the Central Banqueting Suite in Bilston, Wolverhampton.
Both services were conducted by Bishop Joel Thomas from the Church of God Worldwide Mission. I can only imagine that this was the first funeral of this kind the Bishop has ever had to deal with, along with dealing with two sets of funeral directors in two different cities for the same person.
Different people will have their own take on what they can remember from the two day funeral, but for me there was two interested points that Bishop Joel Thomas made. The first one was about living our lives well with people and with God; he spoke about a Nigerian saying that he saw on a bumper sticker on a car, which read ” Live your Life good with God so that a Preacher does not have to lie at your funeral”.
And that is something that he was convinced that Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher had done, because of one of the last time he saw Mrs Fletcher in church on the 11th of October, she gave a testimony and she was ready and prepared for the next chapter of her journey with God.
Because none of us know when our time will come, but by the time she had reached Junction 70 of her life, she was ready to get off that junction 70, with the knowledge that she had a relationship with Jehovah God.
Two of Mrs Fletcher Grandchildren Alex and Cheyenne Fletcher both wrote their own poem that were delivered with the maturity of their age along with the emotion that naturally was a part of their delivery, since they both loved their Grandmother so much.
Mr Basil Hylton, a long time friend and colleague spoke of the passing of Mrs Fletcher as one of those founder and pioneers who have contributed to their community or to their profession. He spoke about how her love for her family first, and for her community she belonged to. The way she was so instrumental in giving birth to the Association of Black Probation Officers, which to today is a part of the Government’s Ministry of Justice.
Mrs Fletcher did not hold back when it came to people Human Rights and their right to aspire to succeed in life. Even if it meant that she had to encounter various obstacles or issues for herself, she continued to move forward with her vision that she believed in so much.
Mr Tony Kelly another long time friend and colleague also looked upon Mrs Fletcher with the respect due to a big sister. He spoke about one of his first encounters with Mrs Fletcher, roundabout 1980 for the Black Social Workers and Probation Officers which is also known as BSWAPO meeting. He spoke of her determination for the right of justice for people and her sense of loyalty to the disadvantage.
He also spoke about how in October I believe, he arranged for Mr Tony Kelly daughter Abigail Kelly who is a professional singer to be part of the Reading Black History Month.
Because of the respect that was felt by those in the local authority of Reading, a letter was sent and read out from Councillor Sarah Hacker, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading. And on the 26th of November the Reading Chronicle newspaper, also covered the death of Mrs Fletcher with a quarter of a page write up of her journey while living in Reading. I understand the Wolverhampton Express and Star will soon be doing something similar.
Again because of the involvement of Mrs Fletcher, in the community of Wolverhampton and Reading, the current High Commissioner of Jamaica, Her Excellency Mrs. Aloun Ndombet-Assamba also sent a letter that was read out in Reading by Mrs Vivienne Siva, The Community Relation Officer for the Jamaican High Commission in the UK.
And in Wolverhampton her letter was read out by Mr Wade Lyn who is a Honorary Jamaican Consulate for Birmingham and the UK and CEO of Cleone Foods Limited, who are based in Birmingham.
Because of time I am hoping that I will be allowed to include the words of Mrs Grace Powell who represented the Jamaican Society and Friends Reading, including her Nephew in Law Mr Adam Kerr. Both Adam and Grace were colleagues of Mrs Fletcher in the Probation services, and both gave their experience they had with her and things she and accomplished in an attached pdf with this blog.
There were also additional contributors to the Thank Giving and Home Going Celebration who made fitting tributes, such as Mrs Thelma Salter’s who is a sister, Audrey Bullock, a niece, Mr Errol Bryan, family friend, and Mrs Shirley Lloyd Nee Hesson, Cousin in Law. There words were recorded in the program of Mrs Fletcher.
There were also a number of musical tributes my member of the family, which sounded more like a concert, instead of a funeral.
Denzil Owen Fletcher spoke for his sister Karen Kay Fletcher, in my dealing with Denzil before the funeral, you could not help but notice the impact that the death of Denzil Mother had on him and Karen, the emotions justed rippled down the phone line, as I would continue to be silent and patient has the grieve continued to overcome Denzil.
Denzil a big man of some years, reflected my generation of Black Men and Women who loved their Mothers so much, that we could not hold back the tears night or day wherever we may be we would just flow with the emotion of our grief.
Denzil spoke about his late father Mr Hayden Fletcher who passed away age 49 and his favourite song he use to sing to his mother “Cherry Oh Baby“, he spoke about the love they had for each other and that he was only man she had ever loved, if they were both alive today they would have been married over 53 years or something like that.
Denzil spoke about the Strong Black Women of a mother he and Karen had who was always there for them both regardless of the challenging situation with a workable solution.
Not many people will know this, since I was never a ware and I use to attend the summer school during the school holidays in West Park Wolverhampton as a young person in age. A project for those who were between the age of 5 - 16, that Mrs Fletcher was responsible for since it kept many black children off the streets, as we all took advantage of the various activities.
Having an educated mother who was a Senior Probation Officer, who sat on various committees including the Princess Trust, has motivated both Denzil and Karen to desire to want better for themselves and their kids.
For that reason both Denzil & Karen have set up a Charity in their mother's name called The Cherry Fletcher Foundation, its aim will be to assist people with regards to educational empowerment.
I am so sure that the Legacy of Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher will continue to live on, in all of her children and family members since they have all from infancy been programmed about having a healthy family unit.
This we saw with so many young ones coming together and carrying out Mrs Fletcher final wishes, which was that her passing was to be a time of celebration, which brought about so many of the young ones showing off their musical talents, with one of the highlights of the evening, when Cherry oh baby was sung by members of the family.
I don’t think I ever seen such depth of musical talent in one family, in the many years I have been documenting the black community that I spring from.
I can truly say that Denzil Owen Fletcher and Karen Kay Fletcher, Alex, Cheyenne and Savannah have all done Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher proud in the send-off they gave to the main figure head or matriarch in the family, whoever takes on that role in the future, will have some big shoes to fill.
Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher
January 25th 1945 - November 16th, 2015
“I am a carrier of God’s promise”
Regarding Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher favourite song as sung by her loving husband - Cherry Oh Baby please follow the link below…
I would like to thank Mr Kevin Thomas of KWThomas Multimedia, who came on board to document such a 2 day funeral with his team member Mr O’Neil Oliver…
Mr Kevin Thomas has kindly allowed highlights to be viewed from the 2 day funeral of Mrs Fletcher, please follow the link below, I am sure it will expand as well as fill in the gaps of my blog…
You may contact Mr Kevin Thomas of KWThomas Multimedia from the following link below…
Regarding the image we captured please follow the links below…
Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher - Thanks Giving Service on 30th November 2015
Mrs Cassandra Cherry Fletcher - Home Going Service on 2nd December 2015
For information regarding our service please follow the link below…
To read more about our funeral services, please read our blog below…
Until next time stay blessed and live long and prosper as you continue to do good towards one another…