Hundreds of mourners are to gather in Sheffield today to pay their last respects to a member of one of the city’s biggest traveller families.
Friends and family from across the country and beyond are due to attend the funeral of 46-year-old Bridget Collins – one of 16 children born to Patrick and Maureen Collins, who went on to become the head of a family with around 130 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren.
Bridget, known as Biddy, died of liver failure and is to be laid to rest tomorrow after a funeral at St Catherine’s RC Church, Burngreave.
Specialist silver Mercedes cars have been imported from Ireland to take her family to the service.
Biddy, who lived at Manor Top, is survived by four of her five children – Maureen, 24, Patrick, 21, Annie, 19, and Willie, 13 – and six grandchildren.
Her family said she never got over losing her daughter Shannon, aged just two years old, after she was knocked down by a car in Sheffield in 1998.
They said she also struggled with the death of her mother Maureen, who died in her sleep at the age of 68 in her home at Manor Top in 2010, two months after her father died.
Sister-in-law Kathleen Collins, 40, who is pregnant with her 10th child and lives on the Littledale estate in Darnall, said: “Biddy’s daughter, Shannon, got killed by a car when she was two-and-a-half and she could never come to terms with that – it was a big misfortune in her life. She struggled with it.
“Biddy was also her mother’s ‘pet’ – they were always together – so she found it hard after she died, so soon after losing her father too.”
Biddy’s mother, known as ‘Big Mammy’, was a street boxer in her younger years, undefeated in all her fights.
But Biddy’s family said she was a ‘softer’ character.
Sister-in-law Kathleen said: “She was a very nice person, I got on with her very well for 23 years. She was really soft.
“She was a very loving mother, sister and friend – she will be sadly missed.”
Biddy’s son Patrick said: “We are a very close family and we are expecting a big turnout for her funeral, although with travellers you never know who is going to turn up. She died too young. It’s been a shock for a lot of people.”