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Hundreds of people are expected in Hanworth on Wednesday (April 11) for the spectacular funeral of much-loved English Romany gypsy, Mary "Sissy" Smith .

A funeral procession with "massive floral tributes" was due to set off from Sissy's former South Road home at around 12pm.

Huge crowds are expected to follow the cortege to St Richard's Church in Forge Road, where a two-hour service will include songs and eulogies from friends and family members.

People will then gather at Hounslow Cemetery, in Hanworth Road, at around 2pm for the burial.

Following the burial a glass will be raised to Sissy, who died on March 28 at the age of 73, songs will be sung and lucky heather will be handed out at her graveside.

Mary 'Sissy' Smith

Sissy's son, former bare knuckle boxer Joe Smith, told getwestlondon : "I expect things will go on late."

Dozens of mourners gather around the burial site

Sissy will be buried next to her beloved husband Aaron Smith, whom she lost in 2014.

Mourners looked on while sipping from drinks to celebrate the life of the great-grandmother.

Dozens gather for the burial of Sissy Smith at Hounslow Cemetery
Dozens gather for the burial of Sissy Smith at Hounslow Cemetery (Image: Freddi Miller)

Sissy's coffin has arrived at Hounslow Cemetery

Huge crowds followed the coffin to Hounslow Cemetery for the burial.

Many funeral-goers crowded the burial site to hear songs and see Sissy being laid to rest.

The procession is making it's way to the cemetery

Funeral goers lined up and stopped in St George’s Road to stock up on refreshments, with ten black Mercedes cars following the hearse.

Toasting Sissy in the back of one of the procession cars, a pal of hers told Getwestlondon: “She loved the Guinness - she was a party goer.”

Ten black Mercedes cars are among the funeral procession
Ten black Mercedes cars are among the funeral procession (Image: Freddi Miller)

Funeral service has concluded

As well as tributes being read out, funeral-goers were shown videos of her singing and dancing, trying to get a glasses shop assistant to give her glasses for free and a picture montage, with one image showing her grinning and holding up a Royal Ascot ticket.

Pictures printed in the funeral order of service
Pictures printed in the funeral order of service (Image: Freddi Miller)

Her sons then gathered round the coffin, while The Waltz of Angels by Jean Shepard played, before the reverend gave a commendation and farewell, accompanied by If Tomorrow Never Comes by Ronan Keating.

The funeral car leaving the church
The funeral car leaving the church (Image: Freddi Miller)

All her favourite things

Huge floral displays on trucks and the hearse nodded to the great-grandmother’s favourite things.

These included a mock-up of her home, nail varnish, hearts and balloons, photos of Sissy with her family, bottles of beer, a can of Guinness, a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and a pack of Digestive biscuits!

Son Joe pays heartfelt tribute thinking of mum in the "most joyous way"

The funeral schedule, in which her son gave a tribute followed by his choice of tribute song
The funeral schedule, in which her son gave a tribute followed by his choice of tribute song (Image: Freddi Miller)

Sissy’s son, former bare knuckle boxer Joe Smith, paid tribute during the funeral service, accompanied by Stevie Wonder’s Place in the Sun playing. He said:

Mum if you think, you had the best children in the world - you were the best mum in the world.

Me and my brothers, we’re sportsmen and mum had a big part in our careers - she had a good way with sportsmen.

We met Clayton Donaldson, Brentford footballer, in a west London casino and mum tried to get him to give her his diamond earrings.

Mum, all the love and all the care you gave us it wouldn’t be fair not to remember you in a joyous way. We will grieve but we will remember you in the most joyous way.

Find yourself a place in the sun and we will see you again one day.”

Long-time Hanworth resident

The funeral service has heard how Sissy settled in Hanworth in 1981, round the corner from her parents-in-law.

She lost her beloved husband Aaron in 2014.

Sissy had an incredible 25 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

She loved playing bingo, and The Dip was her favourite pub with its meat pie and pudding.

Another funeral tribute read:

She played pranks with her grandchildren and she was the best prankster.

When one by one our bingo numbers get called, we will see your beautiful blue eyes again.”

Mary 'Sissy' Smith, old photo from funeral order of service
Mary 'Sissy' Smith, old photo from funeral order of service (Image: TMS)

Tributes read out

Here are just a few of the fond memories which have been recalled during the service.

She was one of the girls - she loved attending every girls’ night out.

Gran could out dance us all.

Royal Ascot was one of her favourite days of the year.

She loved a good laugh and joke.

Although she grew old, she was always young at heart, the life and soul of any party - you really are the best.”

'Mama'

The funeral service is being led by Reverend Chris Kennedy.

The music has continued, with Mama by Celine Dion, and then Sissy’s favourite song - Coat of Many Colours by Dolly Parton, with the congregation singing along.

There has also been a moment of quiet reflection to remember Sissy, while a montage of photos was played on a projector screen above the coffin.

Packed church for 'Sissy' Smith funeral
Packed church for 'Sissy' Smith funeral (Image: TMS)

Standing-room only at church

Mary "Sissy" Smith funeral hearse
The hearse being driven to the church (Image: TMS)

Yet more people joined the crowds at the church after the short funeral procession - from old to young, all dressed in black, there are children and babies in prams too.

Hallelujah was played out as the coffin was unloaded from the hearse.

Inside the church it’s standing-room only as all the seats are taken, and they’ve run out of copies of the order of service.

'Simply The Best'

Massive bunches of pink balloons hung in the air, with Tina Turner’s Simply The Best being blasted out as Sissy’s white coffin was carried from her home into a waiting hearse laden with roses.

The song continued to play as crowds waited for the funeral procession towards nearby St Richard’s to begin.

The cortège was made up of people walking behind the hearse, followed by two black Mercedes and trucks piled up with floral tributes.

'Sissy' Smith funeral order of service
(Image: TMS)

Open casket

There have been huge crowds of people outside Sissy’s former home at 1 South Road.

A lot of them have been gathered in the back garden of the property.

Family members and closest friends have been going inside to pay their respects at an open casket.

See the huge floral tributes for the funeral procession

Incredible floral tributes from family and friends of Sissy have arrived to her home in South Road for the funeral procession.

They include huge commemorative pieces nodding to her favourite things - including floral bottles of Smirnoff and her favourite nail colour “Le vernis”.

'Sudden death from a stroke'

Family friend Mark Birch, who lives in West Drayton, has spoken to Get West London, saying:

She was a beautiful lady, very kind, loved everyone.

[Her death] was so sudden.

Look at how many people are here - she was very down to earth, very sociable.”

Crowds gather in South Road

Crowds have started to gather in South Road ahead of the funeral cortège of gypsy Sissy Smith.

Crowds gather ahead of the funeral procession
Crowds gather ahead of the funeral procession (Image: Freddi Miller)
A truck laden with floral tributes for Sissy Smith
A truck laden with floral tributes for Sissy Smith (Image: Freddi Miller)