Love of football and family on show at funeral of river tragedy victim Nathan Fleetwood
Hundreds turned out to say goodbye to a kind and caring football fan and "wonderful young man" Nathan Fleetwood.
The funeral for the 21-year-old was held after he tragically died after falling into the River Severn in Shrewsbury on March 27. Family and friends were finally able to say their farewells to the popular McDonald's crew trainer, who was missing for a number of weeks before he was eventually found in mid-April.
Arriving at Emstrey Crematorium in Shrewsbury in a stunning black Mercedes, Nathan's coffin was adorned with the Manchester United crest and a Red Devils shirt painted on with his name and number 21. It was surrounded by blue and amber flowers for Shrewsbury Town, and a photo of him, sporting a big smile and proudly wearing his McDonald's hat.
Nathan was carried in to the tune of You Are My Sunshine by Christina Perri. The crematorium was full to capacity, and hundreds more listened to the service outside on the speakers.
He was described by the celebrant as "a cherished son of Carol and Ges, a much loved brother to Hannah, precious to his nan and grandad, Jean and Brian, and his late gran Frances".
"And he was so special to his many friends," the celebrant added. "How on earth to we do justice to all that Nathan means to you in the time we have today? Such a warm and outgoing personality. Caring, popular, hard-working, respectful of others are just a handful of ways he could be described."
During tributes written by his mum and dad, and read out by the celebrant, attendees heard how Nathan was born on October 31, 2000, with Carol and Ges saying he was "our Halloween baby".
He went to St Mary's Catholic Primary School before moving up to Sundorne Secondary School - now Shrewsbury Academy. He played for the football teams at both schools, and achieved nine GCSEs from Sundorne. He then went on to Shrewsbury College football academy where he achieved strong grades, as well as enjoying a trip to Valencia in Spain.
As well as his school and college teams, Nathan also played for Shrewsbury Junior Colts in the youth leagues, as well as The Dolphin and The Telegraph in adult football. One of his parents' proudest moments was seeing Nathan play at the home of Shrewsbury Town in a cup final.
One of his first jobs was delivering the Shrewsbury Admag, and while he was at college he worked two part-time roles. He worked at Shrewsbury Town's Montgomery Waters Meadow selling pies - taking any left over home for his family after games - and McDonald's, where he stayed for five years, becoming a crew trainer. His McDonald's colleagues were described as his "second family". "They loved him dearly," said Carol and Ges.
The service was also told about Nathan's mischievous side, when he made fake bus passes for college and sold them to friends.
Several pieces of music were played - the service heard how Nathan was a "secret Adele fan", with Ges joking that he "takes after his mum" because he can't stand her music either.
A minute's silence was held before, together, Carol and Ges read a poem titled In Memory of Our Much-Loved Son, Nathan.
A photographic tribute was played to Oasis' Champagne Supernova, showing baby pictures as well as photos of Nathan with his various football teams, work colleagues, friends and family. The Lord's Prayer was then read, as well as a final poem, before the closing music - Maybe Tomorrow by the Stereophonics.
Carol and Ges said: "In the 21 years of his extremely happy life, he had grown into a wonderful young man." They added that he was thoughtful, kind and that his caring personality shone through like his smile. "We are so, so proud of the person he became," they said. "There is a big hole in our hearts which will always be there."
After the ceremony, a wake was held at Shrewsbury Town's stadium, where close friends of Nathan shared some of their memories.
Since Nathan died, floral tributes were placed at Greyfriar's Bridge, near where he was found, and Shrewsbury Town FC held a minute's applause during a home match against Doncaster Rovers. His friend Toby Owen has since set up a foundation, Forever 21, in Nathan's memory.
Donations from the service will go to two charities. West Mercia Search and Rescue volunteers were described as courageous, strong and determined by Carol and Ges, who said they were "extremely grateful" to the part they played in finding Nathan. Ronald McDonald House will also receive donations.