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Mourners pay tribute to Poole teen Tom Rowley
AROUND 200 mourners, most of them young people, gathered in bright morning sunshine to pay their final respects to a popular Poole teenager.
The celebration and thanksgiving service for Tom Rowley took place at St Paul’s Church on Canford Heath , the area where he had lived for his entire life before his sudden death at home.
The 18-year-old’s coffin was brought into the church to My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion.
A group of girls, two wearing T-shirts bearing Tom’s picture, linked hands and sobbed. Smartly-dressed young men also broke down in tears and were comforted by their friends.
With gentle words, the Rev Peter Gibbs told them: “Although we’re here with sadness and shock, this is an opportunity to heart of Tom’s love ... there is hope beyond despair.”
Tom’s brother Andy read WH Auden’s Stop all the Clocks, while Tom’s girlfriend Tasha managed to get through another moving poem, How do I Mend a Broken Heart?
His parents, Pam and John, in a tribute read by the Rev John Taylor, recalled how their son had been born in Poole Hospital on April 24, 1994, and grown up in Bader Road, attending Canford Heath First and Middle Schools, Ashdown secondary, and Bournemouth and Poole College .
“Just before his 18th birthday he had the great privilege of meeting Tasha. To the family she became a weekend daughter. She made Tom incredibly happy,” they said.
They went on to describe Tom, one of three boys, as “very loving”.
Mr Taylor added: “He was loyal. That’s why so many of you are here today. He was a very kind young man. He loved all his family and his friends.
“He was a young man who lived all of his young life on Canford Heath.
“As proud parents and family and friends perhaps you were the luckiest of people to have shared his life with him, and he to have shared your lives as well.”
A screen showed pictures of Tom and of his memorial in Canford Heath’s skate park, where scores of people gathered each night to leave flowers, messages and tributes after his death from a drug overdose in early August.
The presentation ended with Tom’s exhortation: “Live every day as if it’s your last.”
Donations in Tom’s memory for Limelights youth centre can be made online at tapperfuneralservice.co.uk. An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned.