A UK woman’s dying wish: a funeral dance to ‘Another One Bites the Dust’

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When Sandie Wood was diagnosed with tongue cancer in February that soon became terminal, she made a plan. Her funeral would not be a sad and somber occasion. She didn’t live like that.

“She was not a boring person,” Samantha Ryalls, a close friend of Wood’s, told The Washington Post. “She wasn’t traditional either. She wanted her funeral to reflect her.”

Wood, 65, wanted his coffin brought in late because he was never on time. She envisioned it purple and decorated with letters that read, “Go Out in Style.” She he asked that the funeral celebrant swear as much as possible.

And he wanted a group of dancers to crash his funeral, unannounced, and perform a routine. to “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen.

That’s exactly what happened on November 4 at a crematorium in Bristol, England, when Ryalls and a group of Wood’s friends managed to stage a one-of-a-kind send-off that fulfilled his wildest wishes.

Halfway through the service, Queen’s famous bass line suddenly blared through the room, and several dancers stood up, shed their jackets, and launched into a three-minute routine. Video of Wood’s funeral went viral on social media after a BBC report this week. caught the scene. Ryalls said it was everything her friend would have wanted.

“She wanted us to remember her for the outrageous person that she was,” Ryalls said.

Ryalls, who met Wood on a pub darts team, called her the life of the party. She recalled her friend wearing bright colors and telling lively stories of the years she spent working as a waitress in Bristol pubs. Wood loved her shoes and insisted that her horse-drawn hearse and her coffin be decorated with an array of stilettos, wedges and studded boots.

“She was just a massive character,” Ryalls said.

The dancing crowd that upstaged her funeral almost didn’t happen. Finding a dance team to deal with Wood’s death request proved difficult, Ryalls said. It was rejected by 10 groups, some of which called the proposal disrespectful. Desperate, he posted a request on Facebook.

When cabaret dancer Claire Phipps saw the post, she couldn’t believe her luck.

“All summer I had been chatting with people about their wishes to have a funeral,” Phipps told The Post. “But everyone was looking at me like I was angry, like that was never going to happen.”

Phipps, who runs a Bristol dance troupe called the Flaming Feathers, said she was excited to take up the challenge. After receiving song requests from Wood, the group, which often performs at cabarets and festivals, choreographed a routine and rehearsed for several weeks.

They then sneaked into Wood’s funeral before the crowd. to hook the correct seats.

“It was stressful,” Phipps said. “Because we didn’t know how it would be taken.”

At the end of the song, to Phipps’ relief, people were clapping and laughing.

Wood died of tongue cancer in September, seven months after his February diagnosis. She had already been battling a hepatitis C infection, Ryalls said, after Britain’s National Health Service treated her with contaminated blood decades ago, as part of a national scandal that sparked a public inquiry in 2019.

Wood’s battle with cancer was painful, Ryalls said. But her sense of humor kept her going.

“He was dying,” Ryalls said. “And she said that the medicine is laughter.”

It was also medicine for those closest to Wood. Mark Wood, Sandie’s husband, also didn’t know about her extravagant plans, he told The Post. At the funeral, he was consumed with grief and couldn’t concentrate. He then he started playing music: Sandie’s music.

“I said, ‘Yeah, that’s my Sandie,’” Mark said. “There was a big smile on my face because it was her. She didn’t want me to know that because she wanted to surprise me. And boy, didn’t she?

The funeral lifted Mark Wood’s spirits. Sandie was “one in a million,” he said, and he’s still struggling to sleep since her death. He expressed his frustration over the NHS scandal that made Sandie sick. the british government Announced in August that affected patients would receive about $122,000 in compensation, but Mark Wood said he wanted the government to apologize as well.

But he said Sandie got the send-off she deserved.

“If she’s up there looking down, she’d be smiling,” Mark said.

Sandie asked that her loved ones I finished the funeral by walking out in a conga line, Ryalls said, to which everyone happily agreed. After the excitement, he had one last wish: that his funeral would make headlines all over the world.

“The last wish that we couldn’t get actually happened,” Ryalls said. “Is incredible.”

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