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Woman who died arranged flash mob to perform at her funeral

"She was really the center of everything. She was just a very big character.

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By Ed Cullinane via SWNS

A woman who passed away arranged a flash mob at her own funeral - dancing to Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust."

Sandie Wood, 65, died from tongue cancer - one of the victims of the 1980's infected blood scandal.

She was one of tens of thousands of people given blood contaminated with hepatitis C in 1977 - a contributing factor in her death.

Described as a "bit of a rebel" by her friends, former bodybuilder Sandie wanted to go out with a bang after passing away on Sept. 19.

She hired the Bristol-based dance troupe The Flaming Feathers to flash mob her own funeral.

Footage of her funeral shows how, amidst crying family members, the group stood up as music began playing loudly, before removing large jackets hiding their uniforms and dancing at the front of the audience.

While initially, the crowd seemed shocked at the event, with one man "refusing to look'" at the performance, dance troupe manager and performer Claire Phipps, 36, says that the crowd were soon joining in.

Claire, from Bristol, says that the 10-member group agreed to perform at the event after a request from Sandie's friend Sam - who had been turned down by five other groups before.

Claire said: "It was definitely not your normal gig. It was very odd to first pretend to be there for the funeral, and then to see family and friends crying and upset.

"To then have to get up and rock out to Queen felt very weird - but it did go really well, and it's what she wanted. If you know her, she was a bit of a rebel, so it fit her personality.

"We got some very funny and mixed reactions at first, but we got the crowd going, they were all clapping to the music, and they were all really thankful and enjoyed it after.

"Her best friend Sam booked us, but this was about six months before she passed - so Sandie basically planned her own funeral.

"That was not the only surprise too; we first flash mobbed the room, but then when we left the crematorium, she also requested that we did the conga to exit the building.

"When her coffin came in too, she was intentionally late because in life she was always late - so she wanted to be late for her funeral too.

"It was crazy - but I loved it. Overall, it was a really positive experience - but I did feel like I didn't want to offend anyone.

"I think we're changing - more people are encouraging others to be colorful at funerals rather than being so Victorian and gothic. So we would happily do it again if anyone wants to book us."

Sandie's close friend Sam Ryalls, 43, arranged all the surprises at Sandie's request for her funeral on November 4 last year.

Sam, from Bristol, described her friend as a "loud" but rebellious woman much loved by her friends and community.

She said: "She was very loud, and very out there. She was really the center of everything. She was just a very big character.

"Funny enough, she was actually very short, but what she lacked in height she made up for in her character and how loud she was.

"She used to work in pubs, always behind the bar. She was once a bodybuilder, but once she stopped that, she was a bar maid - but behind the bar is where she loved it the most."

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