Hundreds say farewell to Burnley boy who fell from canal bridge pipe

Hundreds say farewell to Burnley boy who fell from canal bridge pipe

Hundreds say farewell to Burnley boy who fell from canal bridge pipe

First published in News Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

TEARS fell as hundreds of mourners packed a Burnley church to say farewell to 11-year-old Robbie Williamson.

Robbie, who died after falling from a canal bridge pipe, was carried into All Saints with St John the Baptist Church in a small white coffin.

The song ‘You Got the Love’ rang out and could be heard by the many mourners outside who were unable to get in.

Among those at yesterday's funeral were dozens of pupils from Shuttleworth College, who held each other tight as they grieved for their friend.

Just 10 days had passed since Robbie fell from a pipe over the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Lowerhouse Lane, Burnley.

His devastated family, still unable to comprehend how their ‘wonderful son’ was no longer with them, filed into the church behind the coffin.

Half an hour before the 11am service was due to begin the pavements outside the Padiham Road church were already packed, as mourners stood head bowed waiting for the funeral procession to arrive.

The horse-drawn hearse left his home in Bear Street for his final journey at around 10.40am. Twenty minutes later traffic was brought to a standstill as it arrived outside the church in complete silence.

The coffin was carried into church as ‘You Got the Love’ was played.

Inside the 169-year-old church it was standing room only as the service, led by the Rev Charlie Hill, began.

Tears mixed with laugher as poems written by Robbie’s dad, Dean Williamson, and mum, Nicola Grimshaw, were read out to the congregation by the Rev Hill.

But the biggest laugh was reserved for his ‘nana Pat’.

In a selection of memories read out by Rev Hill, she said: “Everybody knew Robbie. If Robbie stood on the balcony with the Pope people would say who is that bloke with Robbie?”

His parents told how their hearts had been ‘ripped apart’ by the tragedy, but they also remembered Robbie’s ‘cheeky’ and ‘funny’ side.

Dean, a 37-year-old joiner, brought a laugh when his poem reminisced about Robbie’s adventurous side.

It read: “Now one thing I say about our little boy, he grew up with so much happiness and joy, he would wander here, and wander there, we always had to look for him everywhere, with his cheeky face and his cheeky grin. We never knew where you had been.

“No words I write, could ever say, how sad and empty I feel today. If there’s one last thing I could say, it is I will always love you in every way.”

Nicola’s poem told of the phone call that ‘changed our lives forever’ and the hospital scene that ‘no parent should see’.

“I say please Robbie, don’t have no fear, a whole new adventure awaits you up there, the spirits and angels will be pulling their hair, so cheeky, so funny, and loved by all, now RIP Robbie, as our tears start to fall. Love you Robbie.”

Nana Pat also remembered Robbie’s fun and mischievous side.

“He was a little guy full of such life, character, laughter and fun. He created laughter wherever he went with his daft noises and his jokes.

“He was somebody who lit up the room with his smile.”

Throughout the service there was one word that people kept returning to: Love.

In another poem read out to the congregation, his uncle Tony said: “I envy the angels with who Robbie now lives. They will have all of the laughter and joy that he gives.

“If he is loved in the heavens like he was loved here, for the rest of eternity he’ll have no fear.”

Nana Pat said: “He was a very loving kid. He was good with the little ones, he loved his family and he was from a family that loved him to bits.”

Rev Hill said: “He was full of love, full of life, full of happiness.

“In the end we don’t take anything with us. We don’t take the car, the house. None of the stuff matters. It doesn’t mean a thing.

“What matters are the people we love, and the people who love us back.

“Robbie, that tiny little guy, will leave a massive hole, but that massive hole is because he was so loved, and he still will be.

“Nothing, not even death, can take away what Robbie means to you, and what you mean to him.”

After the tributes mourners were asked to reflect on their own memories of Robbie while Karen Taylor-Good’s song Precious Child was played.

Following prayers, the congregation left the church to the sound of James Arthur’s Impossible.

As hundreds of mourners reached for the tissues, and parents grabbed hold of their children and reflected on the fragility of life, rarely have the lyrics ‘All we had is gone now, tell them I was happy, and my heart is broken’ seemed so apt.

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