By Marie Raine & Sam Morter: Hundreds of people gathered in Stafford for the funeral service of PC David Rathband.
He grew up in Staffordshire before moving to Northumberland to join the police force – where he was blinded on the job by gunman Raoul Moat.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” played as people entered the chapel – the lyrics said to encapsulate David’s optimistic outlook and irrepressible humour.
The service was conducted by humanist celebrant Carly Fee with contributions from David’s friends and family.
The Constable’s great nephew Ellis Hall read a poem written by his grandmother, David’s older sister Julie. It included the lines:
‘We will never know the pain he felt
With the terrible blow he had been dealt.
His life had been changed beyond repair.
Why is life so cruel and unfair?’
Joselyn Forester- Melville explained how she came to meet the Police Constable after stopping at a road traffic collision in Northumberland, where she witnessed two women die.
She described how David, who was the first officer at the scene, acted as a pillar of support to help her come to terms with her own trauma.
She described him as ‘a brilliant example of a decent human being, with a bright soul and a kind heart’ , before reading the poem ‘The Final Inspection.’
Paul Johnson, who described PC Rathband as his best friend, spoke about their teenage days.
“Together we thought we could conquer the world… We had one hell of a time attempting to do so.”
He added: “It must have been a one in a million chance that David survived that barbaric day on the 4th July. But David was one in a million- so it should have been no surprise.”
The closing words of the ceremony were from David’s twin brother, Darren. He described the last eighteen months of his brother’s life as ‘borrowed time’ before describing David’s every day struggles after losing his sight.
He said of his brother: “Being a twin has always been special to me and although identical to me, David was an individual.
I can never come close to the man he was.”
‘I’ll See You Again’ by Westlife was played as the procession left the chapel. The lyrics say: ‘Always you will be part of me and I will forever feel your strength when I need it – gone but not forgotten.’
Blue balloons were released into the air following the service – 190 in total, in recognition of his police call sign ‘Tango 190.’
Click below to hear more of Darren Rathband’s emotional speech:
Click below to see pictures from the funeral. Photos by Sean Morris: