The funeral of a Midland vicar’s teenage son saw hundreds of friends and family pay their final respects during a colourful ceremony.
In a service at Worcester Cathedral, 17 year-old Tony Ballard, from Worcester, was remembered as a lad who “loved his friends”.
He died two weeks ago after apparently getting into difficulties while swimming in the River Severn, near the town’s racecourse.
Eye-witnesses said that he became trapped under an overhanging willow tree after swimming across slow-moving waters.
After a frantic three-hour search involving more than 50 rescuers, his body was found about 100 yards downstream from where he was last seen in the Severn, near Pitchcroft, Worcestershire.
A touching tribute was made by best friend Will Smith, aged 17, who spoke about Tony’s “lively spirit” and “love for life”, adding that he would never be forgotten.
Tony’s parents have not yet spoken publicly about the death but in a statement released immediately after the tragedy, his father, Rev Duncan Ballard, and mother, Ellie, said: “Tony was a wonderful, loving, normal teenager with all the joys and frustrations that brings.
“He always lived his life for the moment, never worried about tomorrow.”
Speaking at the funeral, Rt Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, said: “There have been so many tributes to Tony. I hope these and the love and prayers of all those who gather for Tony’s funeral will sustain Duncan and Ellie.”
Tony’s coffin was carried out of the cathedral while The Beatles Let it Be song played in the background.