A community mourns gifted teenagers who died in car crash

IT was a service that was a solemn mourning over the loss of a life cut so short – and an invigorating celebration of the memories he gave to so many.

Held at Wetherby’s St James’ Church on Monday, hundreds of Oliver Cross’s friends and family came along to reflect on the joyful times they spent with Ollie and hear about how others will remember him forever.

Andrew Vertigan of the Salvation Army, a governor of Wetherby High School and a friend of the family, gave a stirring tribute to the 16-year-old.

“To each of us in this room today, we count it a privilege to have known Ollie,” he said.

“We each have had our lives, in some small way, enriched by his love and friendship.”

He told Oliver’s parents: “Jo, Phil. You brought up a fine, beautiful young man whom you can be so very proud of.”

He reminded everyone at the ceremony about Oliver’s cracking sense of humour, his admiration and respect for all he met – and the respect that they, in turn, gave him.

He reminded them Oliver was a gifted cook, despite one of his favourite dishes being a sausage sandwich with salad cream.

He reminded them of his love of Liverpool FC – a passion that was marked by mourners who wore red ribbons and roses on their lapels.

And he reminded them how Oliver’s death has left not just his close friends and family, but an entire community shocked and utterly devastated.

Oliver’s coffin was led out to Liverpool FC’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.

ON Tuesday, respects were paid to “a genuine, top quality young man” – Thomas Dunn.

A young man “with not a bad bone in his body who we can learn so much from,” the Rev Steve Barlow told the many at Wetherby Methodist Church.

Tom was, “full of warmth. Brilliant to be with. Caring and considerate and fun with it,” he said.

Despite the devastation and heartbreak his death has brought, explained the Rev Barlow, Tom would have wanted people to remain upbeat. To laugh, smile and joke when remembering him – testament to his lifelong sense of humour.

He said: “Tom constantly had a smile on his face and we need to remember he would want this to be a positive occasion because he was an incredibly positive person.”

The 16-year-old’s family and close friends entered the service to Teenage Kicks by the Undertones – one of Tom’s favourite songs and a track his indie group, called Likewise, performed at a recent battle of the bands competition in Ripon.

His former football coach, Mark Baker of Wetherby Athletic said Tom exuded as much enthusiasm, commitment and fair-play off the field as he did on and likened the Leeds fan to Leeds legend, John Charles who was renowned as both a true sportsman and an all-round gentleman.

One mourner told Tom’s family: “If I had a son I would have wanted him to be like Tom.”

THOSE at Michael Tempest’s service were told: “Smile although your heart is aching. Smile even though it’s breaking. It’s what he would have wanted.”

And throughout the ceremony, mourners were reminded of Michael’s sparkling sense of humour, which was made all the more special by his loving nature and “heart of a lion.”

The Rev Kathy Couchman, who led the service at a packed St James’ Church on Wednesday, said: “For Michael’s family and friends it’s been so hard to smile in the past week but smile is what Michael was able to do throughout his whole life. He never stopped smiling and that’s what he wanted others around him to do.”

Michael’s coffin was carried in by his granddad, uncle and brothers. One of his brothers, Dean, had prepared a poignant tribute to his younger sibling.

“I’ll never be able to play football with you again or make up silly games with you or go on holiday with you or wind each other up but I’ll always love and adore you,” he said.

“It’s so sad that it takes something like this to remind you how much you love your family or closest friends.”

As well as Michael’s passion for sport, people at the service heard about his love of music and how he enjoyed drumming in his band.

Before the altar were photographs of the 16-year-old. In every photograph he was smiling.

His white coffin was carried out to the song, Smile.