Woman killed in Tunisian massacre laid to rest in Barnetby churchyard today

Mourners carry the coffin of Claire Windass into St Barnabas Church in Barnetby le Wold. Pic Ross Parry
Mourners carry the coffin of Claire Windass into St Barnabas Church in Barnetby le Wold. Pic Ross Parry

A woman killed by a gunman on a Tunisian beach was remembered by her devastated family today as a mother who showered her children with love, lived life to the full and would always help others.

More than 300 people attended the funeral of Claire Windass, 54, who was among 38 people killed in an attack in the popular tourist destination of Sousse.

Mrs Windass was sunbathing on the beach with her husband Jim when gunman Seifeddine Rezgui, who is believed to be linked to jihadist group Islamic State, struck.

Her coffin, carried in a white horse-drawn hearse, was bought to St Barnabas Church in Barnetby le Wold, where she grew up and went to school, and where her mother, aunt and sister still live, after being taken from her home in Hull. There was standing room only in the church, with other mourners standing in the churchyard to hear the service relayed by loudspeaker.

Her son Matthew told the congregation: “I am not going to stand here and tell you about my Mum.

“Those who knew her knew what an amazing person she was. I feel the amount of sadness (there’s been) is a true testament to the amount of love we felt for her.”

He said she made sure as children they wanted for nothing “especially love.”

A tribute from her daughter Eve, read by the Rev Alan Wright, who conducted the service, said her Mum was a “blessing and a treasure”: “When people said to me: ‘You are so like your Mum’ - my usual response would be to cringe with jokey embarrassment - much to my Mum’s amusement.

“I now realise it was my Mum who was moulding me into the person I am today - and for that I will always be grateful.

“If I have been lucky enough to take from her an ounce of her kindness, selflessness and amazing nature that she had, I couldn’t be more honoured.

She said they had a running joke that her Mum was a “modern day Mother Theresa”: “If someone needed help she would be the first one. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her and her compassion was never ending. People like that are a blessing and a treasure.”

Her husband Jim said “she didn’t just love life - she loved people”, adding: “To say she was special was an understatement - Claire gave and never wanted to receive.

Mrs Windass had been a “shy and studious” child who won the “Helpful” trophy many times at school. “Her helpfulness stayed with her during her chosen career or caring for others”, said the Rev Wright.

She had worked with in North Lincolnshire Council’s learning disability and intermediate care services team for 18 years and had two step children Steve and Andy.

Rev Wright said the small, tight-knit village of Barnetby was experiencing a “deep sense of shock.”

He said atrocities like 7/7, 9/11 or any major disaster seemed like a “big collective event” but the families and individuals whose lives were torn apart “sometimes gets lost in the hype”. He said the perpetrator was part of a “tiny minority with a very warped and misguided view.”

And he urged the congregation to “live and love life as Claire did”: “Claire did truly live and love her life - in her memory we should all do the same.”

The funeral was followed by a private burial in the village churchyard.