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Funeral of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding stars Billy and Joe Smith takes place in Sevenoaks

The funeral cortège carrying twin brothers who were found dead in woodland set off for their funeral in Sevenoaks this morning.

The bodies of Billy and Joe Smith were discovered together in woodland, off Dibden Way, on the morning of December 28.

The funeral cortège carrying twin brothers to their funeral

The brothers, who were 32 when they died, starred on Channel 4 TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and inspired an outpouring of tributes.

The pair were laid to rest today, despite earlier claims there were disagreements in the family about plans for their funeral arrangements.

In advance of the service, Sevenoaks District Council had delivered some 1,500 letters to people in affected areas. Schools and community groups have also been kept informed

Hundreds of mourners wearing red and black gathered in Julians Way from 10am for the funeral procession, which is travelling via Oak Lane, Sevenoaks High Street and St Johns Hill to St John the Baptist Church, and the service started at 11.30am.

The horse drawn hearse carrying the brothers' coffins. Picture: UKnip
The horse drawn hearse carrying the brothers' coffins. Picture: UKnip

Two white horses carted each white coffin from the funeral parlour in Sevenoaks to a house on a hill where dozens of loved ones gathered at 10am.

Helium heart balloons and a pair of white rose wreaths decorated the front garden of the house.

The love theme continued as dozens of friends and relatives, dressed in black and red, huddled by the garden with upbeat music playing gently in the background.

A blue balloon with the message “We will always belong together” floated in the front garden where a giant silver watch and a red wine bottle made of flowers decorated the lawn of the semi detached property.

Single red roses were placed neatly in a row along the garden wall alongside name placards, one each for Bill and Joe, at the front of the brown brick house.

One of the horse-drawn hearses. Picture: UKnip
One of the horse-drawn hearses. Picture: UKnip

The brothers were taken to their last resting place in horse-drawn white hearses, their coffins are also white and adorned with photos and flowers.

A procession of white vehicles is also following the horse-drawn hearses, with some vehicles adorned with large floral tributes.

After the service, friends and relatives made their way to Sevenoaks Cemetery in Seal Road, via Bat and Ball, for 1pm burial service, which as a private ceremony attended by only close friends and family.

Sevenoaks council said it was working with Kent Police and Kent County Council's Highways to make sure the funeral went ahead respectfully while minimising the impact on local people and keeping the traffic flowing. Pubs in the town remained closed throughout.

Billy and Joe, who were former pupils of Oldborough Manor School, which is now the New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone, are said to have made it clear in their last moments, and in letters to loved ones before taking their own lives, that they were "right where we want to be" - by each other's side.

A 4x4 carrying a huge heart made of flowers. Picture: UKnip
A 4x4 carrying a huge heart made of flowers. Picture: UKnip

Heartbroken relatives sobbed as the carriages arrived for the funeral service.

A grieving woman held the glass of Billy’s carriage and kissed the window before saying “I love you” outside St John’s Church.

Hundreds of mourners gathered outside the Sevenoaks church where the twins arrived in separate white horse drawn hearses.

A small boy in a grey suit was comforted by the side of Billy’s carriage where women gathered pressing their hands against the carriage.

The twins’ white coffins were carried into the church, one behind the other.

Billy's picture next to his coffin. Picture: UKnip
Billy's picture next to his coffin. Picture: UKnip

The street emptied as the service begun, leaving a trio of white Mercedes limos parked outside.

The roofs of the carriages were dressed with white flower letters spelling “Daddy” for Joey and “Uncle” for Billy.

A handwritten card titled “sadly missed” was tucked into the flower wreath on Joey’s carriage.

It read: “To Daddy, love you so much. From Joseph and Savannah.”

A similar note was tucked into the flower wreath of twin brother Billy. It read: “To Uncle Bill, love from Joseph, Savannah and Charmaine.”

Joe and Billy Smith
Joe and Billy Smith

Music rung out from the church as the service began.

As the twins' coffins were carried into the church, the song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother was played to mourners.

During the service a poem was read out from the twins' mother, Sarah and another was read out which had been written by close friends and tributes were also made to both brothers from family members.

Other songs played during the service, included Many Rivers to Cross by UB40, You'll Never Walk Alone by Gill Diamond, One Sweet Day, by Maria Charey and Boyz II Men, which was dedicated to Joe, from his wife Charmaine and You Got a Friend In Me from Toy Story was also dedicated to Joe and Billy from Joe's son, Joseph and other, Daddy's Little Girl, by The Shires, which was chosen by Savannah Rose in tribute to her father.

The service was led by Father Robin Jones and who said prayers and led tributes to the brothers during the service, and hymns including Alleluia, Worthy Is The Lamb For You Are Holy, Peace Like A River, Love Like A Mountain were also played.

Mourners outside the church before the service. Picture: UKnip
Mourners outside the church before the service. Picture: UKnip

It is thought the brothers had made a suicide pact after Joe discovered he had cancer and an inquest opening last month revealed a heartbreaking note had been left to relatives.

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.

Read more: All the latest news from Sevenoaks

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