A police escort and guard of honour will head the cortege at the funeral of Carl Brooks - a much-loved Gatwick traffic warden and stalwart of Crawley’s music scene - on Thursday (May 19).
Scores of family, friends and colleagues will bid a sad farewell to 56-year-old Carl, described as ‘a man everyone loved’, who was found dead at his home in Langley Green on April 24.
Carl’s coffin will be escorted by police motorcycle outriders to the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium where a guard of honour of fellow traffic wardens will greet his arrival.
Crawley born and bred, Carl was well known around the town and equally well known at Gatwick Airport where he had worked since 2002.
He met a large number of celebrities while on duty including the Beckhams, Jedward and a Bumblebee, which provided a photo opportunity seen widely online. He met Robbie Williams and asked him if he could have a photo. When Robbie he agreed, he handed him his camera and posed while the bemused global star then took photos of him.
His brother Clive paid tribute to a man who he described as loved by all. “Everybody loved him and he would always respond to a plea for help. He was very serious about work, but was always full of humour and people just couldn’t help but like him.
“He wasn’t the luckiest of chaps. He was stabbed in the face when he tried to break up a fracas while off duty; he got run over by a taxi while he was on duty and in his younger days, he was struck by lightning when he sheltered under a tree during a thunderstorm. He didn’t learn from his experience, however, and a few years later was zapped a second time when doing exactly the same thing!”
His three daughters all shared fond memories of him. Sophie said: “Dad was always ready to promote new bands locally and was responsible for giving a number of acts a starter on the local circuit. He picked up the guitar himself at times, but in all honesty he wasn’t very good. He was very serious about politics and a staunch member of the Labour Party. I wouldn’t say that he tried to influence our politics, but he did once tell me that if I happened to vote for one particularly well known right-winger, he’d put me up for adoption!”
Kirsty said: “He was one guy that you didn’t want to run up against in a pub quiz or play Trivial Pursuit against as he just knew the most random stuff - he was an absolute whizz on the Discworld novels, but you could normally get him on sport as that was one thing he didn’t have an interest in.”
Gemma, who is expecting Carl’s third grandchild soon, said: “He was so involved with local charities and would always be ready to put his support behind raising money for them. Over the last few years we reckon that he has raised around £10,000 for the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam, stillborn and mental health charities. If anyone would like to contribute anything in his memory, we would welcome donations to the British Heart Foundation, which can be made through Co-operative Funeral Care in Three Bridges Road.”
Inspector Kevin Swinney, from the airport community safety team at Gatwick, said: “Our chief constable, Giles York and the Gatwick command team offer their deepest sympathy and condolences to Carl’s family.
“Carl was a well-respected member of the Sussex Police family and known by many for his commitment to his role as traffic warden and of course, his quick-witted humour and endless supply of one-liners. His presence will be missed by all here at Gatwick.
“Fellow wardens and police officers have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of taxi and coach drivers, Gatwick staff and the travelling public expressing their sadness at his passing. The motorcycle escort and the guard of honour are fitting tributes to him. He was a real character and will be missed by his friends and colleagues within Sussex Police and Gatwick Airport Limited.”
Carl’s family has requested that his funeral should be for family and close friends and colleagues, but welcome anyone who knew him to the Labour Club in Crawley later in the day.