Moving tributes at funeral of Toby, Sam and Genevieve Day

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MORE than 100 close family and friends packed into a village church for the funeral of a husband, wife and their youngest child.

Mourners started arriving at St Peter and St Paul Church in Market Overton shortly before 10am on Monday for the service to celebrate the lives of Toby Day, his wife Samantha and their six-year-old daughter Genevieve.

They died in an incident at their home in Robin Crescent, Melton Mowbray on December 8. It is believed Toby stabbed his wife and three children before turning the knife on himself.

Kimberley Day, 15, and her brother Adam, 13, survived the attack and were present at the funeral.

The service started earlier than planned with the church doors opening at 11.20am.

A bouquet of red roses adorned the top of Sam’s oak coffin, while the small white coffin of Genevieve had a spray of pink and white carnations. Toby’s oak coffin followed.

Kimberley and Adam were surrounded by relatives as they followed their parents and sister’s coffins into the church.

Just moments after the doors closed, a rainbow appeared in the dull skies above the church and surrounding fields.

Rector of the Oakham team of churches Canon Lee Francis-Dehqani and assistant priest of the Oakham team the Rev Hildred Crowther led the service.

In his welcoming address, the Rev Francis-Dehqani said: “We come here this morning still coming to terms with what has happened.

“The sense of disbelief has not been lessened by the last few weeks.”

He said during his meetings with both Toby and Sam’s families he had been “struck by how supportive they have been of one another in these very difficult days” and said they were “taking small steps working through their grief and loss”.

He spoke of the family’s religious beliefs and said the church had particularly significance for them.

Sam and Toby were married there in November, 1994, and Kimberley, Adam and Genevieve were all Christened there.

The congregation sang the hymn One More Step, which the Rev Francis-Dehqani said meant a “great deal to the family”.

He then gave a reading called The Ship by Bishop Brent.

The Rev Crowther, who has lived in Market Overton for more than 30 years and had known Sam since she was a child, spoke in tribute to the family.

Sam attended primary school in Melton until her family moved to Market Overton, where she joined Langham Primary School. In 1984, Sam moved to Israel for three years with her parents and three siblings.

The Rev Crowther drew muffled laughs from the congregation when she spoke of Sam taking “advantage of every opportunity that the school could offer, including I might say, learning to swear in 12 languages.”

The family returned to Market Overton when Sam was 14, and she attended Vale of Catmose College, followed by the sixth form college in Oakham.

She met Toby while she was working as a waitress and he was working as a cook at a Little Chef on the A1.

At the time of her death, she was employed as manager of the early years nursery at ??? school in Melton.

The Rev Crowther said she was “rightly proud” that she had almost completed her BA in early childhood studies.

She added: “Sam will be remembered for her bubbly personality and her quick wit. These, combined with her warm and caring nature brought her many many friends.”

Toby grew up in Stretton with his parents and brother. He went to primary and secondary school in Great Casterton and during his teens he had a Saturday job on Stamford market before going on to work at the Little Chef.

The Rev Crowther said Toby would often “grill local traffic cops about their work” and became focused on joining the police. He joined Thames Valley Police when he was 19.

The Rev Crowther said Toby was “known to have attended 999 calls on his BMX” and added: “Off duty, Toby could never entirely switch off, even making Sam carry a notebook with her so that he could make a note of any driving offence he spotted”.

The couple were married and lived in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, as Toby had a job in High Wycombe. They moved back to the area for Toby’s job and by that time, the couple were expecting Kimberley. They moved into their home in Melton one month before she was born.

The Rev Crowther said: “The arrival of each of the children brought a great deal of joy and happiness to both Sam and Toby who built a loving home for them.”

She said Genevieve, who was known as Genny, had “beautiful curls like her big sister Kimberley and fair hair like her big brother Adam”.

The Rev Crowther said: “She was a pretty talented little girl with a big personality - a real charmer and nobody could be miserable when Genny was around.

“She was also a real chatterbox and quite a poser. Genny was doing well at school where her personality meant she was well-known throughout the school community.”

The Rev Crowther recalled the entire family taking part in the crib service with Genny playing the baby Jesus aged just six months. Kimberley was an angel and Adam a shepherd, while Sam and Toby featured as Mary and Joseph “much to Toby’s disgust”.

She said: “He didn’t like the costume his mother-in-law had made him. Too much pink he said and he never stopped grumbling but Genny stole the show. She had learned her part perfectly and slept throughout the whole proceedings”.

The Rev Crowther ended the emotional tribute by saying: “The family were blessed to have had Sam for 38 wonderful years, Toby for 37 and Genny for six and a half.

“All three will be sadly and greatly missed by all who knew them but they have left behind them many very happy memories which will be cherished always.”

Following the tribute, the Rev Crowther read the poem Smile, Open Your Eyes, Live and Go On, before sitting with the family.

The hymn, Will the Circle Be Unbroken was then sung, which the Rev Francis-Dehqani said had been specially requested by Sam’s mother.

Lay reader Debbie Marsh, a parish nurse in the Oakham team, said prayers for the family.

Mrs Marsh said: “We struggle to understand what has happened and to know that life will never be the same again.

“We thank you for all the love and support that has been showered on the family by friends, neighbours and strangers.”

She then read the Lord’s Prayer and then a final hymn, Lord of All Hopefulness, was sung. The Rev Francis-Dehqani said the hymn had been sung at the couple’s wedding.

As the coffins were carried out of the church at the end of the funeral, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Second Movement, was played.

As the congregation filed out, donations were taken for the youth centre at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where Kimberley and Adam spent time following the incident.

Following the 45-minute service, Toby, Sam and Genny were laid to rest in a private family burial in the churchyard.

After the service, the Rev Francis-Dehqani, who has been supporting the whole family including Kimberley and Adam, said: “Today’s funeral is but one small step in helping the family to come to terms with their loss.

“It was a very poignant and moving occasion.”

He said the funeral had been organised in accordance with both Toby and Sam’s families wishes.

He thanked the communities of Market Overton, Oakham and Melton Mowbray for their support during this “very difficult time”.

He said the family were particularly grateful for the Day Trust Fund, which has been set up by the Melton Times with the full support of the Rutland Times and the Rutland and Stamford Mercury to help Kimberley and Adam.

The Rev Francis-Dehqani said: “The family are grateful for the support of the whole community and in particular the support shown to Kimberley and Adam through the trust.”