Hundreds pay their respects to ‘gent’ Fred at huge funeral in Kenilworth

Frederick 'Fred' Dubberley, who died aged 72.
Frederick 'Fred' Dubberley, who died aged 72.

Hundreds of mourners came to Kenilworth last week to pay their respects to a much-loved member of Balsall Common’s community.

Frederick ‘Fred’ Dubberley died on Sunday June 17 at the age of 72 after battling mesothelioma, a cancer related to asbestos exposure.

Christy Dubberley with Fred

Christy Dubberley with Fred

And around 500 of Fred’s family and friends all came to his funeral at St Nicholas Church on Thursday June 28 - one of the few churches in the area that could cope with a funeral of that size.

Fred was so popular that two flatbed lorries had to be hired to carry the enormous amount of flowers donated by well-wishers.

After the funeral service, Fred was buried in Oaks Cemetery next to the graves of his mother and father.

His granddaughter Christy Dubberley, 21, said the huge turnout was a testament to the kind of man he was.

Just some of the floral tributes for Fred left in Oaks Cemetery

Just some of the floral tributes for Fred left in Oaks Cemetery

She said: “The funeral was lovely - it meant a lot to my family to see how many people turned up.

“I suppose it was the measure of my grandfather.”

The Dubberleys have lived in and around Balsall Common since 1966 for four generations, and Fred, a member of the traveller community, was very well-known and loved by people in the village.

Many commenters on Facebook paid tribute to his character after his funeral was announced, describing him as a ‘gentleman’ and a ‘respectful’ man.

But although Fred developed cancer from asbestos exposure, his death was still unexpected as it was thought he was on the road to recovery.

He left behind his wife, his four children and 16 grandchildren, including Christy. Most of them were present at the funeral.

Christy said: “It was a bit of a shock to us all. We all thought he was going to get better. The doctors told us he’d have another three years left in him.”

When asked what her most abiding memory of Fred was, Christy spoke about him visiting all of his grandchildren still living in Balsall Common every

Christmas to see them all open their presents in turn.

She said: “He’d come without fail every Christmas morning. He’d come over to us, and then he’d go back out to have time with his other grandchildren in the village.

“He was just a very, very good grandad to us.”

Fred’s huge popularity inadvertently caused some disruption on Kenilworth’s roads as the funeral was taking place.

After realising how many people might turn up to the funeral, some of Fred’s family got in touch with Warwickshire Police to warn them about the likely traffic problems Kenilworth would face.

Extra officers were sent to Kenilworth on the day following the warning as a precaution.

There were reports of parking problems in and around High Street during the funeral, and later in Oaks Road during the burial at Oaks Cemetery. But the problems only lasted for a few hours.

The family wished to thank everyone who came to the funeral and donated flowers.