Mourners surprised to find dead man walking

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When a friend saw the newspaper notice announcing the death, he rang Mr Hughes's old coach firm Abbotts, of Leeming, North Yorkshire, to query the address given in the notice. He was told that it was the right address.

Mr Hughes said: "I had seen the notice in the paper myself and eventually I started to twig what was happening. I phoned Abbotts and the traffic manager answered. I told him it was Frank and that I was just phoning to say I was very much alive and kicking.

"He said 'Well, whose funeral have we all just been to then?'"

Frank Hughes, whose father's funeral did take place, said: "It's a one in a million chance. My dad was in the Merchant Navy and it was a big turn-out. But there were some people outside who we didn't know."