hundreds of tearful mourners packed into a Belper church to say their goodbyes at the funeral of much-loved teenager Tom Chandler.
St Peter’s Church, on Chesterfield Road, was jam-packed with family and friends who wanted to pay their respects to the popular 19-year-old.
Football-mad Tom was found dead at a friend’s house in Belper on Tuesday, March 8.
The grief felt at his death was evident at the funeral on Thursday morning as more than 100 youngsters who were around the same age as former Belper School pupil Tom filled the church.
They watched as six of Tom’s friends carried his coffin down the aisle to the sound of the Oasis song ‘The Importance of Being Idle’.
The coffin was then adorned with an Arsenal Football Club scarf and a yellow Gunners’ away shirt, while a floral wreath made up as a red Arsenal jersey with the number one on it sat alongside.
The hymn ‘Abide with me’ was sung, before two representatives of Belper Sports Junior Football Club, Dave Jones and Mark Hawkins, read a touching and humorous tribute to former player Tom. They said they had seen him grow from a boy into a man.
People in the congregation smiled as Tom was described as someone who not only made an impact in football, but also on every player he tackled.
More fond memories were recalled, such as when Tom decided he wanted to be a goalkeeper.
The church heard that he conceded 18 goals in his first game and 13 in his second. But when it was suggested to him that he perhaps wasn’t the best in nets, it was said that Tom joked that he was actually getting better!
He would play football whenever and wherever he could, was always at training, and was described as someone who gave 110 per cent at everything he did.
Dave and Mark also recalled Tom’s delight at meeting stars Roy Keane and Robbie Savage at Derby County’s Pride Park stadium.
They finished by saying Tom was someone who was ‘always there for his mates’, and asked that everyone remember the Tom that “made us smile and made us proud”.
The church then went quiet as the moving song ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ by Puff Daddy, was played, with the Rev Ann Stratton saying it was a chance to remember Tom.
His coffin was carried from the church into the sunshine to the sound of ‘Live Forever’ by Oasis.
A cremation followed at Markeaton Crematorium and a wake was held at the Greenhouse pub, on King Street, Belper.
An inquest into Tom’s death has been opened and adjourned in Derby. PC Adam Collins told the inquest that Tom was found hanged at a friend’s house.