VILLAGERS lined the streets on Friday to say farewell to Richard Ling, a founding member of Bridge the Gap, which brings the generations together.

Richard died several weeks aged 90, and his family arranged for his final journey to take place through the village.

His family is also supporting plans to raise funds for a bench in his memory, with £835 having been raised towards the £1,000 target.

Knutsford Guardian:

Villagers outside Costa wait to pay their respects

Richard lived in Bernard Court in Holmes Chapel, and the route the hearse took followed that Richard would take every day as he walked to Costa coffee in the village.

Richard’s daughter Belinda lives in the village, and she and her daughter Lizzie followed the hearse in their car.

“The rest of the family decided they would join the crowd, and were among the villagers, which was rather nice,” said Belinda.

Below, Bridge the Gap supporters who came along to pay their respects

Knutsford Guardian:

“Richard used to walk every day from Bernard Court down to Costa coffee, and it was very emotional seeing everyone clapping as the hearse went through the village – it was very touching.

“The staff at Costa coffee were fantastic with Richard, and people were always stopping and talking to him, but I don’t think I realised quite how popular he was.

Knutsford Guardian:

I would like to say a huge thankyou to everybody and say how touched myself and my daughter were at how many people had gone to the effort and trouble to come out on what wasn’t the nicest day.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed on the justgiving page – the response has been magnificent.”

Knutsford Guardian:

Richard’s brother John travelled to Holmes Chapel from Herefordshire for the funeral, which took place at Macclesfield Crematorium.

He said: “I would like to thank the people of Holmes Chapel who assembled on the pavements on Friday.

“To see so many paying tribute to my brother as the hearse passed by was a deeply moving experience, and very much appreciated by all the family.

“There is a multitude of good people at the heart of our country, and to see many of them on the damp day was hugely heart-warming.

Knutsford Guardian:

“That Richard had touched the lives of so many people is a matter of pride, but for coming along to acknowledge this everyone has our sincere gratitude.”

Alison Wright from Bridge the Gap said: "Despite the weather forecast and the showers well over 100 people lined the route along London Road and Macclesfield Road to say goodbye to this much-loved gentleman of our village.

"Colleagues of mine in Co-op Funeralcare had shared stories of community send-offs, so when I heard the news about Richard passing away I asked his family if they thought such a public farewell would be acceptable to them.

Knutsford Guardian:

"I am so grateful they agreed as it was just the best way, under the current restrictions, to say goodbye to our dear friend.

"Everyone wore the brightest colours and clapped as the hearse and his family passed by. It was incredibly moving, especially as we chose that route as it was the one Richard used to walk each day to visit the village, and Costa.

"We observed strict social distancing guidelines throughout."

To contribute to the bench appeal visit