Hundreds at Lancaster schoolboy Leon's funeral
Family and friends gathered to pay their respects at Leon Hoyle's funeral service today (Thursday August 24).
Mourners dressed in the 12-year-old’s favourite colours, navy and orange, as they attended the service at Lancaster Priory Church.
Around 400 turned out to pay tribute to Leon, who passed away on Monday August 7 after falling through a roof on Lune Industrial Estate.
Leon’s family, mum Jenna, dad Brian and sister Lily, led the procession as the song Rolex by Ayo and Teo was played inside the church.
Friends and teachers from his schools, Central Lancaster High School and Willow Lane Primary School, attended and many youngsters wore orange football t-shirts with Leon’s name printed on the back.
Rev Chris Newlands led the service with Rev Jill Novell.
A statement and poem from Leon’s family were read out by Mr Newlands.
They said: “We promise we will always love you with all our hearts and promise as a family to stay strong for your beautiful sister Lily.
“Heaven really has gained a beautiful angel, night night, sweet dreams, love you forever and always.”
The hymn Let There Be Love Shared Among Us was sung and songs See You Again by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth and Angel by Sarah McLachlan were also played.
Tributes were said throughout the service where Leon was described as an angelic boy who loved the cinema, his X-Box, playing out on his bike and scooter and sleeping over at his nan’s house.
Rebecca Novell and Debz Hargreaves, managers at Marsh Community Centre where Leon attended, were first to speak to the packed church.
“My first memory of Leon was when I started at the centre as a youth worker three years ago,” said Rebecca.
“I met a young girl following a quiet, handsome, blonde boy, she wasn’t speaking to him or playing with him.
“I said to the little girl ‘why don’t you play with the boy?’ the little boy was of course Leon, she said ‘he doesn’t know he’s my boyfriend yet,’ she never told Leon.
“I am absolutely positive Leon had lots of girls who wanted to be his girlfriend, that’s the thing about Leon, even though he was quiet and kept himself to himself, he was loved by all.
“We never heard a bad word about him because he was always sensible, always kind and always able to take himself away from danger.”
Linda Pye, headteacher of Ryelands Primary School and former headteacher of Willow Lane Primary School, where Leon attended, also spoke.
Ms Pye said Leon was known for his exceptional athleticism, in particular the triple long-jump, and his encouragement towards others.
She said: “Leon was a kind little boy, everyone here and to everyone who met him, they know he was a boy who was good through and through, with an angelic face to match a pure, good natured temperament.
“Leon was a child who never sat on one of those chairs outside my office, quite the opposite, just the thought of breaking the rules or a bad word was enough to cause him upset.
“He was quite simply, pure and gentle through and through.
“Leon sometimes, like most children, struggled to like reading in Key Stage One, but then in Year Three he took up a reading challenge and was given a new set of books.
“I remember one day in assembly Leon announced to me and everyone else, ‘the more you read, the more you can read’, simple yet profound.
“I will continue to say Leon’s message to all.”
Central Lancaster High School also paid tribute and best friends Theo and Charlie asked Mr Newlands to read out their tribute to their beloved Leon.
Mr Newlands said: “It was a beautiful service, you can just feel the love, so many people wearing navy and orange, a special sign for Leon, people wanted to do something and to wear special colours and be surrounded by love.
“400 in the church today, a tremendous sign of appreciation for an amazing boy.
“This is the day that is really difficult for the family, there are so many things to do, to make preparations, but knowing they have the love and support of the community brings comfort.
“It is an amazing community, the Marsh and the community centre and other places make all the difference by everyone, the presence.
“The tributes what we have heard from his teachers, that is something you don’t say about any kid, he was truly really special.
“It is very hard when it is a young child, you can’t be distant from it, you just feel the pain and you hope that you bring some comfort in what we try to do.
“I would like to say we extend all our love to the family and we are here for them and will continue to offer support in the days, weeks, months and years, for as long as they need.”
Leon was laid to rest with his nan, who passed away a few weeks earlier, at Scotforth Cemetery, where many flowers were also laid.
Family and friends also gathered at The Hornets Bar on the Marsh Estate afterwards for a party and to release balloons.
Staff from Marsh Community Centre also attended the party.
The centre has been described as a “massive support” by the family for their community efforts and fundraising in Leon’s memory.
A fundraising page has been set up by Marsh Community Centre in Lancaster to help pay for the funeral.
The page, also set up to raise money for a memorial bench for Leon, has raised more than £3,500.
The centre also held a vigil which saw 200 people light candles in a one-minute silence and release 120 balloons. A disco was also held at Marsh Community Centre in memory of Leon.
Leon’s school also opened its doors for two days in the week of his death to offer support to pupils.
The family would like to thank everyone who came to the funeral and for the amazing support they have received over the past few weeks.
Donations were made to the Marsh Community Centre at the funeral.