The devastated family and friends of an alleged hit and run victim packed a Sunderland church to say their goodbyes.
Gary Wood, 42, was knocked down by a car in Houghton’s Seaham Road last month and tragically died in hospital five days later.
The dad-of-two’s coffin, painted in Manchester United colours, was brought to St Michael and All Angels Parish Church, Houghton, in a white horse-drawn carriage, followed by a procession of hundreds of mourners on foot.
The hymns sung during the service were All Things Bright and Beautiful and Morning Has Broken and a poem written by Gary’s younger daughter, eight-year-old Georgia Hampton, was read out.
During the ceremony Gary’s family members were invited to light candles in memory of him as the song, If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time by R Kelly, was playing.
Rev Bryony Taylor, assistant Curate at St Michael and All Angels, led the service, saying: “One of the deepest and most painful wounds anyone can suffer is that of grief, and today your grief is made all the more difficult by losing someone violently, unexpectedly and tragically in the prime of life.”
His daughters were everything to him - he idolized them and was devoted to themRev Bryony Taylor
She added: “Today is our opportunity to reflect on all the special aspects of Gary’s character and the way he lived his life as an inspiration to continue his memory as he will of course live on in our hearts always.
“Gary wasn’t always an angel. As a youngster he was very much one of the lads and he had his moments like a lot of young lads. But, he began to mellow after the birth of his daughters, Katelyn and Georgia. His daughters were everything to him – he idolized them and was devoted to them.
“The family described Gary as always smiling and cheerful – he was happy go lucky – he would light up any room. He was also described to me as a joker and a tormentor.
“Gary, in his 42 years, certainly made an impact upon those he knew and loved.”
Following the funeral a burial service was held at Houghton Cemetery.
Previously Gary’s mum, Angela Wood, had said about her son: “He was always there with a helping hand and brightened the dullest of moments with his dazzling smile.
“He was a caring son, father, brother and uncle, who would never watch anyone struggle - whether it was family, friends, or strangers, without helping them.”
Gary, who was a foreman at Houghton Groundwork, was one of seven siblings and leaves behind his dad, Joe Wood, and older daughter, Katelyn Walls, 16.
*Four people, Liam Carr, 18, Gareth Bainbridge, 38, and two youths who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been charged with murder and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm with intent on another alleged victim.
The case will be back before the court on September 15 for a further hearing and a provisional trial date has been listed for November 28.