‘Amazing’ Annie makes final journey after selflessly raising nearly £60,000 for cancer charities before her tragic passing
It was standing room only as hundreds of mourners packed into Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Church in Washington Village for the funeral of much loved Ann-Marie Sproston.
Led by a lone conductor, the silver hearse arrived the church where 45 years earlier Annie was baptised and later married husband John.
Annie’s coffin was adorned with a white flower arrangement with the heart-wrenching words ‘Mam’, ‘Sister’, ‘Annie’. There was also a floral football in tribute to Annie’s role coaching Lambton Lions boys’ team.
The devoted mum of two was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2018 and after a brave four-and-a-half year battle, during which she raised nearly £60,000 for cancer charities, she was told this Christmas would “be her last”.
On on Friday, January 6, she died at the age of 45.
Mourners wore teal ties and scarves, the official colour of the Ovarian Cancer Awareness initiative.
Annie entered the church to the song To Where You Are, by Josh Groban, which was chosen by her mother Janet Forster, 62.
Janet said: “The words were so appropriate for Ann-Marie. It talks about being ‘forever young’, and she will, as she was only 45. It talks about her smile and Ann-Marie’s smile is what everyone knew her by.
"She was an amazing person with a gorgeous smile and she’s going to be a massive miss. The family will never be the same. I just miss her and love her so much.”
The love for Annie was highlighted by the crowd stood at the back of the church and even outside the entrance as mourners were unable to get in.
Holy Communion was received to a backdrop of Lost Without You by Freya Ridings, which was chosen by Annie’s daughter, Sinead, 17.
She said: “I’ve not only lost my mam but also my best friend. My world is never going to be the same without her and she will always be in my heart.”
The committal took place at Sunderland Crematorium where an emotional rendition of How Do I Say Goodbye, by Dean Lewis, reverberated around the room.
The song was chosen by son Declan Sproston, 21, who said: “The person who wrote it did so about his dad having cancer and this just related to the situation with my mam. I didn’t think I would have to say goodbye and I don’t really know how.”
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A “celebration” of Annie’s life was held at Biddick Club where family and friends were given strict instructions from Annie to “have a massive party to celebrate my life” and “everyone to hit the dance floor”.
Sister Siobhan Forster, 33, said: “Annie wasn’t the best dancer, but she loved to dance and was always last off the dance floor.”
Despite her ailing health, Annie raised £57,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie’s Newcastle, St Benedict’s Hospice and the Chemotherapy Ward at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital – all causes close to Annie’s heart.
In June last year, Annie fulfilled her ambition to host a gala dinner at the Ramside Hall Hotel, which raised £27,000, and saw video messages of support from stars including David Beckham, Ant and Dec and Jordan Pickford.
Siobhan added: "We intend to continue raising money for Annie’s GoFundMe page. Hopefully this will be her legacy as well as raising the profile of ovarian cancer.”