A Cornish bard and ex-Camborne policeman makes final journey in Model T Ford
A retired police dog handler and Bard of the Gorsedh Kernow fulfilled his last wish being transported in a vintage Model T Ford to his final resting place.
Treswithian crematorium was packed with mourners paying their last respects to the “true son of Kernow”, Tony Piper, 71, affectionately known as 'Pipes'.
The father of two, who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 12 months ago, died on October 17.
His widow, Val, described him as “100 per cent Cornish” and a man who regularly attended local events wearing his Cornish kilt with pride.
Preparing for his final ride, Tony contacted local funeral director, Chris Blewett to make his unusual request.
Mr Blewett said: “I first met Tony in 1982 when his beat area included Praze-an-Beeble. He used to patrol on his police motorcycle and regularly used to call in to have a chat. It was at that this time I was restoring my 1924 Model T Ford truck and he took a great interest in the progress.
“Unfortunately his health deteriorated but we kept in touch through Facebook and in September this year he asked if when his time came, could he have the Model T truck as his hearse; he said he had always admired it from his beat days.”
Mr Blewett said he was “privileged” to carry out his friend’s request, adapting and fitting a hearse onto the rear of the Model T and draping a St Piran's flag over his coffin.
Mr Piper retired from the force in 1995 following 30 years working in Fowey, Falmouth, Truro and latterly Camborne.
He was a dog handler for 13 years with members of the unit lining the route to the crematorium in a final salute to their colleague.
His widow said: “He trained as a moulder at Falmouth docks but following a chance meeting in London, with a metropolitan policeman from Falmouth, he decided that was what he wanted to do and he joined the then Cornish Constabulary.”
He went on to earn the Chief Constable’s commendation after making 111 dog arrests in four years, a record that remains unbeaten, she said.
“He loved the police, they were our best years. I was touched by the number of people who attended his funeral and the messages from across the county, it has been a huge help. We were married for 47 years.”
Members of the Gorsedh Kernow paid tribute to Tony, along with Trelawney Alliance who said: “He was a Cornishman and proud to be so, he was a man of the people who worked tirelessly for his county promoting its history and heritage. As the chairman of Celtic Congress he was instrumental in forging cultural links with other Celtic communities.
“A champion of all things Cornish, Tony led from the front. He was passionately proud of his Cornish roots and did all within his power to protect its unique cultural identity.”