Dozens attend funeral of homeless Stevenage man who died in bitter cold

PUBLISHED: 12:13 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:13 16 April 2019

Chris O'Sullivan handed out refreshments to spectators of the Tour Series cycle race in Stevenage last May. Picture: Fiona Souter.

Chris O'Sullivan handed out refreshments to spectators of the Tour Series cycle race in Stevenage last May. Picture: Fiona Souter.

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More than 70 people turned out for the funeral of a homeless man who died in the bitter cold.

Chris O'Sullivan's friend Savannah put an art installation in memory of Chris on the chancel step for his funeral service. Picture: Fiona Souter.Chris O'Sullivan's friend Savannah put an art installation in memory of Chris on the chancel step for his funeral service. Picture: Fiona Souter.

Chris O'Sullivan was just 55 when he was found dead in a tent on Six Hills Way in Stevenage, near Asda, in January, and his funeral was held at the Church of the Holy Trinity in the Old Town on Thursday.

Curate Fiona Souter said Chris had much to do with the church, attending an art club and coffee mornings for people who are vulnerable in society.

Fiona said: “He was a very giving person.

“In May last year Chris helped hand out free refreshments in the churchyard to people watching the bike race through the Old Town [as part of the Tour Series]. That's who he was. He was somebody who gave. That came out at the funeral – what a place he had in the community.

“He was tolerant and accepting of people's different lifestyles.

“Chris was a free spirit and he chose to live the way he lived.

“He was a loved and valued member of the community.”

Reverend Ruth Carroll, who led the service, said: “Chris was a familiar face at our church and a regular at our art club, so it was an honour to be able to hold his funeral.

“Just over 70 people attended the service. They were invited to speak about their memories of Chris and light a candle, before we entrusted Chris to God's mercy.

“Chris regularly alerted community workers about other people in need, and in recent months had given advice to the Salvation Army about setting up their Sunday drop-in, so we rejoice that this legacy lives on.”

A tea party was held in the church hall following the funeral service, giving people who knew Chris the opportunity to share their memories of him.

A spokesman for Age Concern Stevenage said: “We attended the service of Chris. He would pop in for a cuppa with us and our paths crossed often.

“Chris was a helper in his community and we're glad his service was well-attended. It's comforting our community cares, but not acceptable this happens in 2019.”

A post on the Holy Trinity's Facebook page says: “Grateful thanks to everyone who came to accompany Chris on his final journey. It was a wonderful way to acknowledge his life and his place in the community. Rest in peace Chris and may you rise in glory.”

A collection raised £100, which will be donated to the Church Urban Fund.

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