Legendary Joe Gilson - full funeral report

PUBLISHED: 12:17 09 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:51 15 June 2010

Joe Gilson

Joe Gilson

AFTER labour comes rest. Fitting and poignant words said in tribute to a legend of the construction industry by the Reverend Ben Bendrey in Honiton yesterday (Thursday).

Ref: 6051-02-09TI

AFTER labour comes rest. Fitting and poignant words said in tribute to a legend of the construction industry by the Reverend Ben Bendrey in Honiton yesterday (Thursday).Part of the town centre came to a standstill out of respect for the late Joe Gilson, whose coffin was carried by a horse-drawn hearse to Honiton Baptist Church.Mr Gilson, of Honiton, died on December 22. He was 64.He left behind a legacy of true love, which he shared with his devoted wife Carol, and a lifetime of inspiration to civil engineers, many of whom went on to become pillars of the construction industry.Some of those industry leaders were among more than 200 mourners.Funeral director Penny Shoobridge carried a construction worker's hard hat in and out of the church during the noon service.Carol told the Herald: "He was the love of my life and I was proud to be his wife."Graham Grunden, former managing director of construction giant Morgan EST, told mourners Mr Gilson made a difference with his magic."Civil engineering is all about people, people like Joe Gilson," he said."He was one of those special people."Never one to mince his words, unless a lady was present, Mr Gilson was a true 'worker', leading major roaadworks projects across Britain. He built many of the country's motorways and was general foreman of the project to dual the A30 from Honiton to Exeter.Stories about Joe's life abound, although those relating to women and his 'little black book' stopped the second he laid eyes on Carol - the love of his life.A fan of spicey food, Mr Gilson considered himself a connoisseur of curries. However, while building the M20, he was forced to think again.Mr Grunden said Indian workers offered Mr Gilson a curry - for breakfast. He downed the meal in one go. "A few seconds later, the after-burns set in," said Mr Grunden. "He grabbed what he thought was a bottle of water - only to find it was vodka!"The construction industry, led by Mr Grunden, paid tribute to Carol for her endless love. She had not only been the love of her husband's life but dedicated her time to caring for him after prostate cancer spread to his lymph glands, crushing his immune system. Industry leaders said he could not have been better loved. Morgan EST contributed to palliative care provided by Hospiscare. Nurse Angela Phillips was among the mourners.Written tributes to Mr Gilson, 'dad', were made by his step-children Mandy, Wendy and Jamie in a book about his life. Mr Bendrey, a close friend of the family, described Mr Gilson as "a cross between Arthur Daley and Del Boy Trotter", saying he knew how to make money but did not believe in debt. He saved up for what he wanted. As a footballer, Beckham could bend it like him!"There are many good things I could say about Joe, but we would be here until next week," said Mr Bendrey.He lit four candles, representing grief, courage, memories and Jesus Christ. Most significantly, mourners heard how Carol and Joe fought for a church wedding. Having both previously been married, Honiton Baptist Church was their last hope. Mr Bendrey did not stand in the way of true love. The couple repaid the church with unstinting loyalty and generosity, becoming staunch supporters and a lifeblood of the congregation and its fund-raising.Bette Middler's Wind Beneath My Wings was played as the coffin was taken in and out of the church.Hymns were How Great Thou Art and Abide With Me. Mr Gilson's remains were cremated in Exeter the following day (today, Friday).

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