A YOUNG mum carries the tiny coffin of her five-year-old son into church as she prepares to say goodbye for the final time.
Elaine Fraser, 23, was one of the pall-bearers for her eldest son Connor Cassidy who died cradled in her arms.
Decked out in the colours of Connor’s favourite cartoon character, Lightning McQueen, his devastated family and friends paid their respects to a little boy whose battle against cancer touched the hearts of Wearside.
The Barnes Infant School pupil died on February 28, cuddled up with Elaine and her partner Craig, three years after being diagnosed with a neuroblastoma tumour.
In a bid to make sure the funeral at Ewesley Road Methodist Church was what Connor would have wanted, it took the theme of the Barnes youngster’s favourite film, Cars.
His tiny coffin featured characters from the movie, and a track from Alvin and the Chipmunks and Dominic the Donkey, which always made Connor laugh, played out around the church.
Julia Belshaw, headteacher at Connor’s school, gave a moving tribute to the popular youngster and quoted letters from his classmates who said they missed their “kind friend”.
She said: “It’s hard not to think of Connor and smile. He was quite the little character. He had his own likes and dislikes and would let you know about them.
“He wanted so much to be independent and he managed himself beautifully.
“He didn’t let anything get in his way. He never complained, even on the days when he felt poorly. All he wanted was to be treated like the other children.”
Connor, who was big brother to Nathan, two, loved attending school but was often unable to due to countless hospital visits and stays.
Doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle tried everything to save the youngster. As well as months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy he had also underwent surgery to remove a neuroblastoma tumour, a cancer which forms in nerve tissue, and had taken part in experimental medical treatment in London. But the cancer was too aggressive for his body to fight.
Over the years, Connor frequently featured in the Echo and twice won our Child of Courage award.
Readers generously donated to fund-raising nights held by his family to raise money for games and activities to make his final months as much fun as possible.
Money raised at his funeral in lieu of flowers will be donated to the Neuroblastoma Society.