Fitting tribute to woman at heart of gypsy community

Daily Echo: Louisa Wells with daughter Sheila and grandson Nelson Louisa Wells with daughter Sheila and grandson Nelson

IT could not have been a more fitting send off for the woman at the heart of Hampshire’s gypsy community.

Totton town centre ground to a halt as a large funeral cortege marked the passing of 87-year-old Louisa Wells, known as Louie, who was the head of five generations of one gypsy family.

And for a woman who loved nothing more than a trip to the bookies, even in her eighties, her daughter Sheila had to stop at Coral bookmakers to place the very last bet on her behalf.

The mother of five, grandmother of 14 and great grandmother of 38, who died of natural causes, was buried with the betting slip along with other favourite items, including a posy, dozens of photographs of her family – and a cigarette in her right hand.

Her hearse was followed by cars filled with family members while half a dozen flatbed trucks covered in bright flowers brought up the rear.

The elaborate wreaths were in the shape of hearts and the gates to heaven while the more unusual arrangements included a handbag, a bed, a card table scene and a cigarette with a cup of coffee.

Members of the public watched as the impressive cortege passed through Totton and the New Forest to Minstead church.

Hundreds of mourners – including members of the traveller community who made their way from across the UK – turned out to pay their respects to the family woman, who was one of the last gypsies to leave the Shave Green compound in the New Forest in the 1960s.

Despite moving into homes in Totton, Mrs Wells, who enjoyed bingo, horse racing, dog racing and playing cards, carried on the gypsy lifestyle.

Her daughter Sheila Wells said: “She will be so dearly missed. She was a traditional English gypsy through and through and very well respected.

“She was a strong lady who worked very hard but was at the heart of our family.”

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:51pm Thu 22 Nov 12

southy says...

MisterGrimsdale wrote:
I like the traditional romanies and always have. They are an integral part of the New Forest.Totally different to the Irish tinkers who cause all the trouble and mess. Shame the media don't distinguish between them.
Agreed.

Sorry to hear of your family lost Jim, Louie was some character
[quote][p][bold]MisterGrimsdale[/bold] wrote: I like the traditional romanies and always have. They are an integral part of the New Forest.Totally different to the Irish tinkers who cause all the trouble and mess. Shame the media don't distinguish between them.[/p][/quote]Agreed. Sorry to hear of your family lost Jim, Louie was some character southy
  • Score: 0

1:13pm Thu 22 Nov 12

arthur dalyrimple says...

she must have led a very tough but interesting life , god rest her soul.
she must have led a very tough but interesting life , god rest her soul. arthur dalyrimple
  • Score: 0

1:26pm Thu 22 Nov 12

be_serious says...

I live opposite where she lived and the cortege was spectacular! so many people there to see her off. Bless her she was always out the front having a fag!
And as for the people who judge - i wish i had that kind of close family - in the months leading up to her death(and before even) there were constant visits of people coming to care for her - judge as you may - that is true family in my view.
I live opposite where she lived and the cortege was spectacular! so many people there to see her off. Bless her she was always out the front having a fag! And as for the people who judge - i wish i had that kind of close family - in the months leading up to her death(and before even) there were constant visits of people coming to care for her - judge as you may - that is true family in my view. be_serious
  • Score: 1

1:35pm Thu 22 Nov 12

sarfhamton says...

Glad to see respectful reporting and comments for a change (8089 please have a look at your self)
Glad to see respectful reporting and comments for a change (8089 please have a look at your self) sarfhamton
  • Score: 1

3:16pm Thu 22 Nov 12

commonsence says...

R I P . True Romanies are lovely people not like the others . I went to school ,in the winter months , with the son of a real romany and he was a lovely lad so polite and very clean and he knew a great deal too.
R I P . True Romanies are lovely people not like the others . I went to school ,in the winter months , with the son of a real romany and he was a lovely lad so polite and very clean and he knew a great deal too. commonsence
  • Score: 1

4:24pm Thu 22 Nov 12

witchyonecat says...

My dad was Leonard Wells and he lived in Shave Green.They were desperatley poor and families helped each other.Forget what TV shows you and the media.True romanies have a code of honour .My dad fought in the war , he paid taxes out of poorly paid work and he always held his head high because his mother taught him to .In fact he worked until way into his 70s !
RIP Louisa Wells and big hugs to all her family , sorry for your loss.
My dad was Leonard Wells and he lived in Shave Green.They were desperatley poor and families helped each other.Forget what TV shows you and the media.True romanies have a code of honour .My dad fought in the war , he paid taxes out of poorly paid work and he always held his head high because his mother taught him to .In fact he worked until way into his 70s ! RIP Louisa Wells and big hugs to all her family , sorry for your loss. witchyonecat
  • Score: 1

6:35pm Thu 22 Nov 12

cmth40 says...

my granmother was a daughter of gipsey rose lee,they never had a easy life but also never stole,worked hard,loved their families and the homes was always spotless, she came from cornwall after being adopted after the death of her parents rip louisa wells
my granmother was a daughter of gipsey rose lee,they never had a easy life but also never stole,worked hard,loved their families and the homes was always spotless, she came from cornwall after being adopted after the death of her parents rip louisa wells cmth40
  • Score: 0

6:46pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Lee Pidgley says...

I think it's great that the Echo has put a double page spread on this great lady's life. It upsets me the way proper gypsys are treated in this country But that's for another day God Bless.
I think it's great that the Echo has put a double page spread on this great lady's life. It upsets me the way proper gypsys are treated in this country But that's for another day God Bless. Lee Pidgley
  • Score: 1

8:13pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Inform Al says...

When the hops were a bit plentiful on the farm near my smallholding in Kent I occasionally allowed my site to be used as overspill. I can only agree that the Romany lot are the nicest people you will ever meet. Unlike the New Age Cretins and the Irish tinkers who on two occasions tried to break the lock to gain acces to my smallholding. Fortunately on both occasions for some reason I was shooting foxes near the entrance and for some reason they decided to run. Can't think why!
When the hops were a bit plentiful on the farm near my smallholding in Kent I occasionally allowed my site to be used as overspill. I can only agree that the Romany lot are the nicest people you will ever meet. Unlike the New Age Cretins and the Irish tinkers who on two occasions tried to break the lock to gain acces to my smallholding. Fortunately on both occasions for some reason I was shooting foxes near the entrance and for some reason they decided to run. Can't think why! Inform Al
  • Score: 1

9:51pm Thu 22 Nov 12

Cooperm says...

This is my great granny. My dads(Wayne Cooper) mums(Sheila Wells) mum.
I am so proud to be one of her great grandchildren, she was an a amazing woman and would of helped anyone. She had a very hard life, but worked through it well. She fought so hard, was so strong and brave.
She'll be missed by all who knew her. Love and miss you Granny Lou
This is my great granny. My dads(Wayne Cooper) mums(Sheila Wells) mum. I am so proud to be one of her great grandchildren, she was an a amazing woman and would of helped anyone. She had a very hard life, but worked through it well. She fought so hard, was so strong and brave. She'll be missed by all who knew her. Love and miss you Granny Lou Cooperm
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree