Family pay tribute to 'brilliant' Neil at moving funeral

Hundreds of mourners packed out a Wigan church to pay their respects to a 'brilliant' family man who died suddenly during a charity fun run.

Thursday, 5th October 2017, 4:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:46 am
Neil was laid to rest in a Manchester United-themed coffin as hundreds of mourners attended the church to pay tribute to him.

Family and friends of Neil Rigby, 47, attended St Anne’s Church in Beech Hill this afternoon to say goodbye to a “very loved” grandad, father and husband.

Neil died suddenly last month during the annual Wigan and Leigh 5k Colour Run, which he was running with his family in aid of Wigan and Leigh Hospice and Wigan Warriors Community Foundation.

His Manchester United coffin was carried while his family’s chosen song “Promise Me” by Beverley Craven filled the church. “In The Ghetto” was also played during the service, to remember the Elvis fan.

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Members of the public raised more than £1,600 for Neil’s funeral, money which went towards his customised coffin emblazoned with his team’s logo and the image of a Manchester United shirt.

The service, which took place at the Beech Hill Church before moving to Wigan Crematorium, heard a tribute written by Neil’s family including his wife June and poems written by Stacey and Shireen, Neil’s daughters.

Mourners were regaled with tales of Neil’s sense of humour, his love of ‘Candy Crush’ and how he used to roll June up in a rug. One poem extract read: “I simply wish for one more day with you. One more day, one more time, one more sunset. It would leave me wishing still for one more day with you.”

His granddaughter, Brook, bravely read a poem in front of the mourners while the other readings were read by Reverend Nicholson.

The family wrote about the “wonderful memories and wonderful times” that they had with Neil, who has been described as the “most genuine” man. “He was such a character,” she read.

“We could haven’t wished for a better dad. We loved him to bits. He was a fantastic grandad too.”

Rev Nicholson read about the tragic events that surrounded Neil’s sudden death. He began the race holding hands with June, his wife of almost 25 years.

“June and Neil ran hand in hand down the road... very sadly Neil would not finish the race.”

She added that Neil did “get his medal” thanks to his devoted family, who, along with friends and members of the public, finished the route from where he collapsed.

All donations from friends and family will be given to Team H, the family’s chosen charity, to raise money for defibrillators to be installed in more public places across the borough.

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