THE last packet of cigarettes bought for a sheep breeder before she died has raised thousands of pounds at an auction following her funeral - with proceeds going to cancer charities.

Anne Moss, 65, of Ewebank Farm, Rokeby, near Barnard Castle, who was well known for her prize-winning sheep and as a show judge, made her final journey in a wool coffin. Her funeral service at St Mary’s Church, Brignall, was watched live by family and friends around the world.

Following the service an unopened packet of cigarettes found by husband Peter after her death fell under the hammer.

Starting at £10, the bids rose in small increments, before rapidly rising into the hundreds and finally thousands of pounds - realising £8,150. With money collected in a bucket the total reached £9,250.

Daughter Clare Moss-Clennell said her mother, who was the “life and soul” of the party would “have been laughing her head off”.

She said: “My mum smoked and towards the end of her illness we were rationing how many cigarettes she could have.

“Dad had been buying cigarettes and he hadn’t bought any for a very long time and didn’t realise how much they cost. “When he found out he said ‘I cannot believe how much these cigarettes cost’. He was horrified at the price.

“He was hiding them so he could give mum only so many at a time.”

She added: “After mum died we were cleaning out and he found the last packet of fags he had bought her. It was unopened and he said, as a joke, ‘why don’t we auction these off and give the money to charity - even if we get our money back it’s £10 back in the bucket’.”

The auction was held in a marquee after the funeral.

Clare said: “It went £10 £20 £30 and then all of a sudden it went just crazy. People were saying ‘I’ll put 300 in if you put 300 in’.

Asked who would get the packet, Clare said: “I couldn’t even split them because there were 29 people who pledged money, and there are only 20 cigarettes.”

The proceeds will be split between the Teesdale branch of Cancer Research UK MacMillan Cancer Support .

Anne’s funeral was viewed on livestream by family and friends from as far afield as Portugal, New York and Portugal.

Speaking earlier, daughter Clare said: “My mum was a very caring person, specially where animals were concerned.

“She was hard working, but really fun and was the life and the soul of the party.

“We thought a wool coffin was so fitting. I can hear her say ‘at least they are using wool for something’, because it’s not used for anything any more. It costs a farmer to get rid of it.”

Anne grew up in Yearby, near Redcar, where she persuaded her parents to buy her a pony.

She left school and went to qualify as a groom with the Straker family, whose daughter Karen Dixon was a showjumping Olympic medalist. It was there that Anne met husband Peter.

The couple got married and moved into a little house at Wycliffe, later going to Brignall and 20 years ago to Ewebank Farm.

Anne started breeding Texel sheep about 30 years ago, later moving across to Beltex sheep. She was a regular at the Bowes Show, Eggleston Show and Great Yorkshire Show.

She was was also a familiar face at the big sales in Carlisle and Kendal.