'He was such a popular man' - tributes paid to Princess Diana's undertaker Sidney Clarke

Times Series: Sidney Clarke Sidney Clarke

Tributes have been paid to a "truly special" undertaker who famously drove the flower-covered hearse carrying Princess Diana’s coffin to her final resting place.

Sidney Clarke, 75, of Falkland Avenue, New Southgate, was well-loved in the community and enjoyed chatting to everyone he met.

He started out as an electrician in Camden before becoming an undertaker in 1995 and moving to Barnet in 2000.

Over the years he drove the hearses of many famous people including the politician Enoch Powell and the comedian Spike Milligan. But the job everyone remembered him for was in 1997 when he was asked to take part in Princess Diana’s funeral.

His daughter Julie Sparkes, 51, said: “Before he did it he had to sign the Official Secrets Act so he couldn’t give us any details about where he was taking the coffin. He didn’t tell us anything.

“But for years after he absolutely loved talking about it and if people recognised him they’d be stuck for an hour speaking to him.

“He was always saying how proud he was that he was chosen to take Princess Diana to her final place of rest.”

Mr Clarke was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal at Buckingham Palace for his service to the Royal Family.

He continued to work as a freelance undertaker for Arthur W Luck & Sons in East Finchley until his death on Tuesday, March 12, and was a keen fisherman. Mr Clarke had two daughters with his wife Patricia, 73, and the couple had five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Every day he would visit his daughter Jackie Salmon, 55, at her hairdressing salon JJ’s in Alston Road, Barnet.

Mrs Sparkes said: “He liked the ladies and would chat to everyone telling them their hair looked wonderful – even if they hadn’t had it done.

“He was such a popular man, he knew so many people in the community.

“He was totally unselfish and would do anything for anyone, he had old-fashioned values and was a truly special man. And he was an absolutely wonderful dad – the best dad you could get.”

More than 70 people have confirmed their attendance at Mr Clarke’s funeral, but anyone who knew him is invited to attend the service at New Southgate Crematorium in Oakleigh Road North at 12.45pm tomorrow.

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