Mourners united in grief for a ‘beautiful’ couple

“The kindest, most caring, loving parents any daughter could ever wish for.”

Those were the emotive words of a daughter to her loving mother and father, tragically taken away from her in the Tunisia terror attack.

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

The funeral of Denis Thwaites, 70, and his wife Elaine, 69, took place yesterday, with daughter Lindsey paying her own heartfelt tribute to the couple.

She was one of hundreds of mourners who brought a small part of the Fylde coast to a standstill at the United Reformed Church in Fairhaven, near Lytham.

Mr and Mrs Thwaites were two of 30 British holidaymakers killed in the terrorist attack in the resort of Sousse.

As the funeral cortege arrived outside the Fairhaven United Reform Church, traffic stopped and well-wishers looked on, wiping the tears from their eyes as they embraced each other.

Two lovely, beautiful and precious people have had their lives taken from them, without cause, and with a violence that was wholly undeserved.

Rev David Phillips

Orders of service were handed out to the congregation, showing the couple happily smiling.

As their coffins were brought into the church, Amazing Grace was played on the organ to the scores of mourners.

Cream lilies and roses lined the insides of the two silver funeral cars.

The couple were described as “two lovely, beautiful and precious people” to the several hundreds of mourners who have turned out to pay their respects.

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

Well-wishers heard the pair, who had made Blackpool their home for the past 35 years, had looked forward to their trip to Tunisia having landed in the resort two days prior.

Mrs Thwaites was said to have been “like a bottle of pop – all fizzed up inside” with excitement, and had been counting down the days to their holiday.

The packed church heard they had always enjoyed travelling and foreign holidays had been a big part of their life together.

The Rev David Phillips told the congregation that everyone had been “acutely aware of our helplessness” towards the “terrible thing that has happened”, adding, “hearts have been broken, lives have been deeply scarred”.

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

The funeral of Denis and Elaine Thwaites at Fairhaven church

He added: “Two lovely, beautiful and precious people have had their lives taken from them, without cause, and with a violence that was wholly undeserved.

“The sorrow that we carry today will take a long time to ease. It is unlikely ever to pass away from those who loved Elaine and Denis the most.

“What was done was an ugly, brutal and inexcusable crime.”

Mr Thwaites, who was born in Stockton-on-Tees, played for Birmingham City from 1962 to 1972 after joining the club as an amateur in 1960.

His elder sister Sandra, in paying tribute, said that it was through her brother’s talent as a footballer “that his life and the life of the whole family would be changed and shaped forever”.

Mr Thwaites appeared in Birmingham City’s first team as a 16-year-old in 1961 before turning professional the following year and had played for England at schoolboy level.

Denis and Elaine Thwaites

Denis and Elaine Thwaites

He was part of the Birmingham City squad that won the club’s first major honour - the 1963 League Cup - and missed only six games between November 1964 and April 1966.

He also helped his second division team hold Manchester United, whose players included George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, to a 2-2 draw in an FA Cup tie in February 1969.

The Rev Phillips said that Birmingham City legend Joe Gallagher had described him as “an absolutely lovely man” who “always had a big smile on his face”.

He was with the side for 10 years before retiring at the age of 27.

He went on to work as a hospital porter for the NHS at Blackpool Victoria Hospital while “hard-working” Mrs Thwaites worked in the hospitality industry.

Floral tributes were laid outside the church.

One read: “For Elaine and Denis. So many happy memories in our hearts always, Elaine, Mark, Anissa and Lauren.”

Another said: “Denis, who was a joy to know. With much love, Vivien and all the family.”

A third read: “May the sunshine shine on you in heaven. God Bless, Sally and Andy”.

A private burial followed at Lytham Crematorium. Donations are to be made to the Alzheimer’s Society.