Heartbreaking farewell to Preston teenager Michael Brooks
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Preston today to say a final heartbreaking farewell to teenager Michael Brooks.
The sun shone on the young mourners' tear-stained faces as they huddled for comfort while a single bell rang solemnly in the background.
A silence, broken only by the sound of sobbing, fell on the streets as Michael's younger brother Callum, helped to carry his coffin into the church.
Rev Dave Hanson began the service by welcoming the congregation - many of whom had travelled from Michael’s home town of Liverpool.
He spoke of the "very sad day" but also of the precious memories that could be shared of Michael's short life.
His Grandmother Joyce Gillespie paid moving tribute to "Mikey" and spoke of his close relationship with his brother Callum.
She said: "Michael was a lovely boy and baby.
"Everything Michael did Callum followed, he was like his little sheep.
"The reason we are here today is that Michael had such a love of Preston and its people. We felt that after all the hard work and all the searching that the people of Preston did and the support they gave us, it was right to bring Michael here.
"He had such a love of life - he was just full of life.
"Callum has lost his brother and his soul mate and its going to be hard for each and every one of us.
"I want to thank you all for everything you have done for us, We've been overwhelmed."
Close friends Amy and Daniel paid tribute to Michael with a beautiful poem. In it they spoke of Michael growing his wings and learning to fly.
They also told of the nightmare search of rivers and fields that was carried out after he disappeared without a trace.
The poem described Michael guiding his mother to where he lay so that she would no longer be alone.
A video tribute was then played which showed a young Michael growing up and full of energy as he danced and had fun with his friends.
The funeral was followed by a procession through Avenham Park where floral tributes that had been made by his family, were laid at the at the foot of a tree close to the river Ribble.
His Auntie Cheryl Stewart paid tribute on the in Memory of Michael Brooks Facebook page and said: "I’m not ready to let you go. Part of me wishes I was still looking for you, at least I had some hope that you would be coming home to us.
"This is by far the worst thing I will have ever had to face, I’m not ready for that reality, I’m not ready to say goodbye. This is all just not right, it’s a living nightmare.
"I love you forever babe."
Former neighbour Danielle Tunstall, 38 said: “You never knew a warmer family.
“They are just beautiful, Michael was the same, just beautiful.
“They’ve put their all into this funeral.
“You just don’t expect things like this to happen so close to home.”
Rev Dave Hanson said: "Michael was a popular young man and much loved by family and friends.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Michael’s family at this time."
Michael Brooks went missing in Avenham Park on Sunday, January 14. His body was tragically found in the river at Preston Docks on February 6.
Amy and Daniel’s poem in full
When your name was called you left us all, God took you away,
He beckoned your name from the stars, and said to us it was your final day.
You grew your wings you learned to fly,
Your time on Earth was done,
You left us all without a trace,
That’s when the nightmare begun.
We searched the fields,
We searched the rivers,
But still without a clue,
Of what happened on that fateful night,
When God called out to you.
He called your name and guided you to the heavens above.
He wrapped you tightly in his arms and said your time was up.
But here on Earth there’s an emptiness a void that will never be filled.
For when you left it seemed as if the world had frozen still.
But on that fateful night when god called you back home,
You guided your mumma to where you lay
So that she was not alone.
You lifted your arms in the water,
And gave her one last hug,
She wrapped her arms around you,
And gave you one last look.
Your soul is now at peace,
Your mum had brought you home,
And now you live within the skies,
Back where you belong.