Village unites to celebrate life of '˜our sunshine' Georgina
A village united in grief came to a standstill to celebrate the life of one of its most loved daughters.
Roads closed, lorries switched off their engines, and shopkeepers stood by their doors for the funeral of 18-year-old Georgina Callander, who was killed in last month’s Manchester terrorist attack.
Hundreds of people all dressed in yellow lined the streets of Tarleton as her horse-drawn, princess-style hearse made its way along Blackgate Lane to Holy Trinity Church for the near-two-hour service.
Standing quietly in the summer heat, they had turned out to pay respects to the teenager whose was described as “our sunshine” and whose “infectious smile” was said to light up a room.
As the church bells peeled, her family - mum Lesley, dad Simon and brothers Daniel and Harry - walked behind the hearse, passed streetlights, bollards, telegraph poles, and shops decorated with yellow and pink ribbons and bows.
Georgina’s yellow and gold coffin, adorned with photographs of her life, was carried into the packed church to Seasons in the Sun by Westlife.
Bishop John Goddard spoke of the family’s “shattering grief”, before inviting them to light a candle over the coffin.
Georgina’s elder brother Daniel spoke first, giving a faultless tribute to a sister he affectionately called GC.
He said: “First and foremost she was mummy’s little girl. The rest of the family used to say she was the ‘perfect child’ who couldn’t do anything wrong.
“They were not just mum and daughter, but were best friends.”
To laughter in the congregation, he went on to recall her messiness, cheekiness and love of book signings, concerts, dogs and her car.
He said: “She was the type of sister who would do anything to help, who would sit and talk with you, even if she didn’t want to.”
Describing her as “geeky in her own way”, he added she refused to drink on her 18th birthday in April, preferring instead to spend the day at Blackpool Zoo.
He added: “She was the incarnation of innocence.”
Outside the church, the service was relayed to gathered crowds over a PA system. Many were carrying yellow balloons and flowers.
Alison Mesghali, a teacher from Hoole St Michael’s Primary School, where Georgina attended, said: “She was just like the flowers she loved. A flower doesn’t compete with other flowers around it, it just blooms.”
Mrs Mesghali added her memories of Georgina’s “happy giggles”, of her being “as cute as a button” and her sporting prowess.
She said: “Georgina was asked to train with Bolton Wanderers Football Club. She ran rings around all the boys but never boasted or bragged about her talent.”
She added: “There is a void in all our lives that will never be filled, but she leaves behind a legacy to be kind, take all life’s positives, smile and enjoy every moment of our precious lives.”
Tributes were also paid to the teenager, who had hopes of becoming a paediatric nurse, by her best friends, representatives from Bishop Rawsthorne Academy, Runshaw College and Booths supermarket where she worked.
At the end of the service the congregation was led out to Ariana Grande’s One Last Time, before a poem by her mum was read out.
The reading described Georgina as a “gentle snow white dove” and when it finished, the family released 18 doves - one for each year of her life.
Georgina’s best friend Sophie spoke of bonding over a love of concerts and road trips in Georgina’s car ‘Peggy’.
She spoke of her 18th birthday celebrations, and “two years of smiles” together.
She said: “We will grow old together Gina, just not the way we imagined.”
Adding: “Don’t worry Gina, I will always be there to look after your mum and the rest of your family.”
Reverend Tracey Swindells represented Bishop Rawstorne Academy, where Georgina attended.
She described the 18-year-old as “a true ambassador for the school”, who was “delightful, caring, popular and kind. There wasn’t a bad bone in her body.”
She also read out a tribute from Georgina’s former form tutor Jonathan Davies. He said: “I couldn’t have asked for a nicer girl to be in a tutor group.”
Yvette Mitchell from Runshaw College said Georgina was “our sunshine”.
She recalled how excited the teenager had been to attend the Ariana Grande concert and how she cared for her friends.
She said: “She was quite the mother hen in the group and brought everyone together.”