Mourners pack Wigan church

Paul Blackledge's funeral cortege is accompanied down Wigan Lane towards the Cherry Gardens by hundreds of scooters
Paul Blackledge's funeral cortege is accompanied down Wigan Lane towards the Cherry Gardens by hundreds of scooters

HUNDREDS of mourners packed into a church to say farewell to a father-of-three who died of a rare eye cancer.

Paul Blackledge, owner of Paul Blackledge Drilling and a founder member of Wigan Scooter Club, passed away last week aged just 47 of ocular melanoma, a condition he had battled for three years.

His coffin arrived for the funeral at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, on Throstlenest Avenue, followed by a procession of around 100 scooters ridden by the club’s members, which made its way to the church from the Boars Head pub in Standish.

Mourners lined the streets to watch the procession arrive before filling the church, with many people standing in the back of the building and the gallery to pay their respects.

His coffin entered the church to Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and left to There You’ll Be by Faith Hill.

Conducting the service, Father John Johnson said: “Death is never easy, especially when it is someone so close to us and someone so much a part of our lives.

“Let us think over all that Paul meant to us, all the love, care and friendship he showed in so many different ways.”

Brother-in-law Harry Bristow paid tribute to Paul’s love of life, raising smiles with accounts of holidays in Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

He said: “When you met Paul, you couldn’t help but love him, and he made everybody feel very special. It was a gift, and the only person who didn’t know he had it was Paul himself.

“He liked to live life the way he thought best, being kind and caring to everyone he met. He was everything you wanted for your sister, loving, considerate, hard-working, and he and Nicola were absolutely besotted with each other.”

Paul’s sister-in-law Ella Bristow read out a tribute by wife Nicola which described him as “the love of my life”.

She read: “Paul was always great fun to be with and loved a party, which involved lots of friends, soul music and dancing. He also loved to be at home simply relaxing or at his caravan, and his family was his life.

“The diagnosis changed all our lives forever, but we laughed our way through the trials and tribulations and Paul was amazing, continuing to live life to the full.”

Nic Burns read out a tribute penned by Paul’s children Ashlee, 17, Kate, 15, and Liam, 14, finishing with a poem written by Liam.

She said: “We miss your smile already, a smile that touched the hearts of many. We will keep the memories of you locked in our hearts forever.

“You set a wonderful example to us, and were a friend as well as a dad.

“Even in the darkest days when things got tough your strength shone through and made us all so proud to be your children.

“It doesn’t seem fair someone so young should have their life taken like you have. We love you, Dad, and always will.”