Where do you stand on people who crash a funeral? While attending parties or weddings uninvited might seem like a better option, a recent story in the Metro outlined the case of an elderly woman in the Berkshire area who keeps turning up at funerals at her local church.

Father Noel Connolly, the priest at the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Slough defended the woman’s actions, saying she was poor lady who felt it was her duty to attend as many services as she can.

Relatives complain that the woman has been turning up at wakes for the last four years and receiving free food – and her actions have angered some. One woman quoted in the article said the woman had attended her daughter’s funeral in August and had tucked into the buffet “like there was no tomorrow”. She also managed to persuade the woman’s son to give her a lift from the church to the Irish centre for the wake.

The woman said there had been a lot of people from her daughter’s place of work at the funeral and she assumed the elderly lady was one of them. Upon questioning, the older woman told the mother she used to work with her daughter as a waitress – however, the woman’s daughter had never worked as a waitress.

The mother argued that the Church holds a mass every morning so the woman could go to that if she wants to attend services. The only reason she appeared to be going to the funerals was to get a free lunch.

Father Connolly argued the woman was a Catholic and felt that she needed to go to as many masses as possible. He did not feel he could forbid her to come.

The general public doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for her either. A Metro poll asked people to vote on whether they were of the viewpoint, ‘the poor woman – she has a duty to attend the masses’, or if they sided with the grieving families and they wouldn’t want a stranger at a family funeral either. At the time of reading, 77 percent of the 600-plus people surveyed had taken the part of the family.

Daniel Curran, founder and managing director of Finders International, said: “This story stood out for us because we know of plenty of funerals where there are few attendees. Sometimes, family members don’t even know someone has died, and we’re the first to tell them when we search for the rightful heirs to a person’s estate.

Often, they regret that they didn’t have the chance to go to the funeral and it saddens them to know there were so few in attendance. Perhaps the woman enjoys the company of others, and this is her way of regularly finding people to talk to.”