Crawley ‘great’ has a rocking police send-off

Courtesy of Sussex Police

Courtesy of Sussex Police

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Dozens of people celebrated the life of a much-loved Gatwick traffic warden and stalwart of Crawley’s music scene.

A police escort and guard of honour headed the cortege at the funeral of Carl Brooks at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium yesterday (Thursday May 19).

Gatwick traffic warden Carl Brooks with 'bumblebee' SUS-160513-115153001

Gatwick traffic warden Carl Brooks with 'bumblebee' SUS-160513-115153001

His friend John Stanley said: “There were no hymns, it was rock music like he liked.

“He had a lovely send-off.

“I think if he was around, he would have been proud of what they had done for him.”

About 70 people went to the service which was carried out by Gatwick Airport chaplain Jonathan Baldwin.

SUS-160520-113922001

SUS-160520-113922001

Crawley born and bred, Carl was well known around the town and equally well known at Gatwick Airport where he had worked since 2002. Tributes flooded in after he was found dead aged 56 at this home in Langley Green on April 24,

Mr Stanley added: “I just feel Crawley has lost one of its greats.

“Even when he wasn’t well he was still trying to help people, support people and be there for people.”

Carl met a large number of celebrities while on duty including the Beckhams. He met Robbie Williams and asked him if he could have a photo. When Robbie he agreed, he handed him his camera and posed while the bemused global star then took photos of him.

His brother Clive has paid tribute to a man who he described as loved by all. “Everybody loved him and he would always respond to a plea for help. He was very serious about work, but was always full of humour and people just couldn’t help but like him.

“He wasn’t the luckiest of chaps. He was stabbed in the face when he tried to break up a fracas while off duty; he got run over by a taxi while he was on duty and in his younger days, he was struck by lightning when he sheltered under a tree during a thunderstorm. He didn’t learn from his experience, however, and a few years later was zapped a second time when doing exactly the same thing!”

His three daughters all shared fond memories of him. Sophie said: “Dad was always ready to promote new bands locally and was responsible for giving a number of acts a starter on the local circuit. He picked up the guitar himself at times, but in all honesty he wasn’t very good. He was very serious about politics and a staunch member of the Labour Party. I wouldn’t say that he tried to influence our politics, but he did once tell me that if I happened to vote for one particularly well known right-winger, he’d put me up for adoption!”

Kirsty said: “He was one guy that you didn’t want to run up against in a pub quiz or play Trivial Pursuit against as he just knew the most random stuff - he was an absolute whizz on the Discworld novels, but you could normally get him on sport as that was one thing he didn’t have an interest in.”

Gemma, who is expecting Carl’s third grandchild soon, said: “He was so involved with local charities and would always be ready to put his support behind raising money for them. Over the last few years we reckon that he has raised around £10,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam, stillborn and mental health charities. If anyone would like to contribute anything in his memory, we would welcome donations to the British Heart Foundation, which can be made through Co-operative Funeral Care in Three Bridges Road.”

Inspector Kevin Swinney, from the airport community safety team at Gatwick, said: “Our chief constable, Giles York and the Gatwick command team offer their deepest sympathy and condolences to Carl’s family.

“Carl was a well-respected member of the Sussex Police family and known by many for his commitment to his role as traffic warden and of course, his quick-witted humour and endless supply of one-liners. His presence will be missed by all here at Gatwick.

“Fellow wardens and police officers have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of taxi and coach drivers, Gatwick staff and the travelling public expressing their sadness at his passing. The motorcycle escort and the guard of honour are fitting tributes to him. He was a real character and will be missed by his friends and colleagues within Sussex Police and Gatwick Airport Limited.”

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