Turnout at minute's silence for Hanham crash victims Ross and Clare Simons "amazing" say friends and family
Friends and family of Ross and Clare Simons say the turnout at a minute's silence yesterday in their memory was "amazing".
As the clocks turned to 12 noon every car and lorry in Hanham High Street came to a standstill.
Traders and customers emerged from shops to join the tribute.
And for a full minute in the winter sun they reflected on the loss of Ross and Clare Simons.
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Understandably as waves of emotion broke over them tears were openly shed.
Matt Woodruff, brother-in-law to Ross's sister Kelly, spoke on behalf of the family: "Ross and Clare were so fun to be around – I thought of Ross as a brother.
"When they walked into a room they would always become the centre of attention. It's so hard to think we won't see them again.
"They were both so kind and helpful and had a great sense of humour.
"It's been amazing today to see family, friends, relatives and other people in Hanham coming out to pay their respects."
A week ago none of those present could have imagined in their worst nightmares that they would be taking part in a vigil in memory of Ross and Clare.
But tragedy brought them together as their family and friends tried to come to terms with losing them both.
For a couple who were so devoted to one another it was fitting that their coffins should sit side by side in the hearse that brought them gently into Hanham High Street.
As the funeral director solemnly led the hearse it paused poignantly in the middle of the road as mourners gathered at the kerbside to bow their heads.
Family and friends, including Mr Simons' father Edwin, held each other, clinging to one another for support.
Organised by cafe owner Imed Baccar, the gathering was a chance for the whole community to pay their respects and to mourn the day that shook Hanham.
As the hearse moved off down the High Street the group slowly made their way back up Lower Hanham Road to the site where Ross and Clare lost their lives on Sunday.
A mounting pile of colourful bouquets, tealight candles and Fosters cans – in tribute to the pair's favourite drink – had grown larger and larger during the week.
Pictures of the couple adorned the gates of a nearby property, with tearful householders coming outside to share in the group's grief.
Family and friends gathered in a semi-circle to look at the tributes, before turning towards the road to watch the hearse make its pilgrimage up the hill.
It paused at the site of the crash where family members touched their hands to its windows and openly cried for the relatives they so desperately miss.
Mr Baccar, owner of Cafe Bonjour in Hanham High Street, who first came up with the idea of a one minute silence for the couple, said emotions had been running high in the area since the incident.
"It's been very emotional – lots of people have been coming into the cafe talking about what has happened," he said.
"Hearing about what happened was awful – many people find it hard to comprehend.
"Ross's father Edwin gave me his blessing to organise the event and told me his son was his hero."
Tara Langworthy, manager of clothing shop Initially Yours, said: "What has happened here today has been lovely.
"It's been great to see everyone come together to pay their respects."
Hanham resident Lynn Mannings, who works in the town's bakery, added: "When I heard about the incident it upset me even though I didn't know Ross and Clare.
"It's touched us all deeply and we've all wanted to show a united front with the families."
The Rev Peter Cook, minister of Hanham Baptist Church, told The Post: "This event has been hugely traumatic but hugely healing.
"Lots of people have been saying that Ross and Clare have come home – even though they lived outside of Hanham, it's like the community of Hanham has taken them into their hearts and wanted to express its sorrow."
Traders are to set up a fund for the families of Ross and Clare, with buckets and donation points planned for many of Hanham's shops.
The fund may go towards an IVF charity, as the couple had been trying for a baby, but the decision will be left in the families' hands.
Meanwhile, family friends Tom Williams and Steve Cann have organised another minute's silence on Sunday from 3.45pm – exactly a week after the crash – in Lower Hanham Road.
By request of the couple's families everyone is asked to bring a can of Fosters lager or Blackthorn cider – full or empty – and a pen.
Labels will be provided for well-wishers to write messages about Ross and Clare on the cans.